Lauren Goode

Recent Posts by Lauren Goode

Three Things to Expect From Tonight’s Sony PlayStation Event

It’s finally here — the long-awaited Sony PlayStation event, where the Japanese electronics maker is widely expected to unveil its next-generation videogame console.

(Image from E3 video game expo in 2011.)

While not all of the details are known yet, over the past week there have been advance reports and much speculation about what the “PlayStation 4” will include.

Here are three things to look for at tonight’s event, which kicks off at 6 pm ET:

The new PlayStation is expected to stream games over the Web. Remember Sony’s acquisition of Gaikai Inc. last year? That $380 million spend wasn’t for nothing. The Wall Street Journal reported earlier this week that Sony is indeed expected to offer cloud-based gaming components with the new console (in addition to playing good old-fashioned optical discs). There’s a chance that Sony will make older games available only through streaming if the discs aren’t forward compatible with the new console. But there could be new streaming content in there, as well.

This is notable mostly because it underscores the shift toward casual, Web- and mobile-based games that has been impacting the hard-core gaming industry. But cloud-based gaming can be technically difficult, as the story points out, so it will be interesting to see how Sony manages this.

Mobile, mobile, mobile. Even videogame consoles aren’t immune to the mobile craze. There are a couple of ways Sony could go here — and maybe it will do both — when it comes to mobile: More integration between the console and the PlayStation Vita, Sony’s not-exactly-best-selling handheld device, or with complimentary mobile apps that work with games on the PS4 console and network. This would allow for enhanced play both in the living room and, potentially, on the go, too, where consumers generally fire up their casual (free!) games.

Briefly consider, as an example, the Wii U from Nintendo, which recently had to cut its sales forecast for the new console, and might not have aimed right when it made a proprietary tablet-like controller. But take away “proprietary” and “controller” and you’ve got a tablet — which has proved it has a place in gaming.

Here we are now, entertain us. Most people who watch Web videos and movies on their TV sets don’t have “smart” TVs. In fact, most aren’t even using Apple TV or Roku. They’re using videogame consoles. And in that arena Sony faces formidable competition in Microsoft’s Xbox console, which in the past claimed the Most-Popular, Non-PC Video-Streaming Gadget superlative.

But here’s an interesting tidbit, reported by my colleague Peter Kafka late last year: Sony’s PS3 is Netflix’s biggest platform for connected-TV viewing, due in part to the fact that Sony doesn’t slap an additional subscription fee on Netflix-watching on the console. There’s a good chance that Sony will tout additional home streaming options or features as a way to bolster its brand as a multimedia platform — if not tonight, then in the near future.

AllThingsD will be at the event, bringing you up-to-date coverage, so check back here later this evening.


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