Lost in the mix of console launches and new holiday game releases is the plan for Sony to use its Gaikai streaming game service to add a kind of backwards compatibility to the PlayStation 4 in order to let the new machine on the block play games from the PS1, PS2, and PS3 libraries of classics and cult favorites. Nobody's heard much about the Gaikai plan in a while (and what we have heard is mostly wishlisting and nebulous promises), but Pete Davison at USgamer has learned a little about the retro service's upcoming launch timetable and whether or not it'll live up to expectations.
Speaking with our sister site Eurogamer, president and group CEO of Sony Computer Entertainment Andrew House noted that Gaikai would be launching in the US first "within 2014" -- trusted sources were a little more specific, telling Eurogamer that beta testing would begin in "early 2014," and that the full service would be up and running by the third quarter of 2014. Europe, meanwhile, would be waiting until 2015.
"Our goal is to be able to have a new form of game distribution streamed from the server side, initially to PS4 consoles then gradually moving that out to Vita," House said. "But eventually, the endgame is to have this available on a multitude of network-connected devices, essentially delivering a console-quality gaming experience on devices which are not innately capable of doing that.
I'm eager to see what Sony's service ultimately ends up becoming, but I know we're in for lots of growing pains along the way and I will miss the way the majority of games have been consumed up to this point. Rather than play the discs we already own from years of collecting, we'll end up having to pay a fee to access the games on the new service and use its online infrastructure over local storage and processing. Contents of the online catalog of games can change on a whim or a licensing arrangement. The entire thing will be in just about constant flux on one level or another. The industry will drag us into the future once again, and while I'm sure I'll come around to the new way of doing things eventually, for now I have my reservations. Still, I am determined to keep myself open minded and optimistic despite my pessimism, cynicism, and desire to keep things familiar. That's all a long-winded way of saying: I want to know more about Gaikai, but until I do, I'll be over here in the corner making that Marge Simpson groaning noise of concern and mild disapproval.