June 11, 2014 4:01 am JST

Sony adopting game-changing cloud tech for game business

YUJI NITTA, Nikkei staff writer

LOS ANGELES -- Sony Computer Entertainment said Monday that it will launch a cloud computing-based game service in North America this summer, a move that could revolutionize the video game industry.

     The game unit of Japan's Sony group announced the July 31 debut of PlayStation Now a day before the opening here of E3, the industry's largest trade show. The cloud service will first be available to owners of the latest PlayStation 4 console. Users will be able to play games on Sony Bravia Internet-enabled LCD TVs due out this year with just their controllers, without the need for game consoles.

     PlayStation Now will let users rent games for short periods starting at $2.99, a fee that gamers will likely find affordable compared with the $50 to $70 typically charged for game titles at stores. The new service will feature a lineup of more than 100 titles that were popular on the PS3. SCE is preparing to launch the same service in Japan and Europe.

     Until now, the three big console manufacturers -- SCE, Nintendo and Microsoft -- sold the hardware so that they could generate profits by selling high-margin software to those users. Selling more game systems was the key to maintaining competitiveness. But this business model is starting to crumble as more consumers balk at buying consoles and opt to play smartphone games instead. This has prompted console makers to consider new business models that can generate profits without hardware sales.

     Cloud games would give Sony an advantage because it is the only major console manufacturer that has its own TV business. The company may even be able to redefine its TVs as the core equipment for enjoying Sony group content, including music and movies.