With PlayStation Now, Sony proves that game streaming works
Streamable PS3 game selection is a bit lacking, but service provides a good sampler.
When initially reviewing OnLive back in 2010, running a game through the offering's remote servers was a noticeably worse experience than running that same game locally. Even with a 20Mbps FiOS connection, our reviewer "could tell that the game was not running natively" thanks to "framerate bumps, sudden resolution drops, and gameplay blips."
Things have changed quite a bit in the intervening time. For one, we tested PlayStation Now on a relatively beefy (but still residential-level) 75 Mbps FiOS connection in the Washington, DC suburbs. At that speed, the streaming experience was practically indistinguishable from loading a disc on a local PS3. After about 30 to 60 seconds of start up (including a required connection test to confirm bandwidth), PlayStation Now games ran at a solid HD resolution. We saw a smooth, rock-steady frame rate and seemingly instantaneous responses to our controller inputs.
The performance over this connection was identical over wireless and wired connections, and it didn't seem to dip even when someone was streaming video in another room. While pro-level players might be able to notice some dropped frames in a twitch-heavy game like Super Street Fighter IV, an intermediate player (including this reviewer) should see no apparent issues. If you set the PlayStation Now app next to a PlayStation 3 running the same game, we'd be hard pressed to tell you which was which.
If your PS4 can clock in for downloads above 9 Mbps, though, you're in for an impressively functional streaming gaming experience. It's all the more impressive when you consider that, four years ago, a 20 Mbps FiOS connection wasn't good enough for a solid OnLive performance in our tests. It seems Sony's 2012 purchase of streaming company Gaikai, along with the intervening wait for improvements in underlying Internet streaming technology, have paid off
Sliding under the data cap
If you're one of the many unlucky broadband customers subject to a cap on your data usage, you may rightly wonder how streaming HD gameplay from a remote server will eat into your monthly allotment. In our tests, most games sucked down an average of 2.6 GB of downloaded data over an hour of gameplay. On a plan with a 150 GB data cap, that means you could stream about 57 hours of PlayStation Now gaming every month, provided you didn't want to do anything else with your connection...
Looking forward to testing it when it releases here.
For the guys who tested it, did you get similar results?