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Why PlayStation TV Exists and What it Means for Sony’s Future
Back in September 2013 Sony unveiled the Vita TV to their Japanese audiences. The announcement was met with mild enthusiasm, but more predominately overwhelming confusion. The Vita had been (and continues to be) a moderate success in Japan, but why would Sony offer companion hardware for a handheld? Was this merely a next-gen Super Game Boy or was there more to it? Even more curious was the lack of any mention of an international release. Would this thing ever be available to Western audiences (where the Vita’s reception has been turbulent at best), or was it destined to fall by the wayside, tucked away in the forgotten graveyard of consoles past?
Fast forward approximately one year later. Not only is the Vita TV coming to The US, it’s got a fancy new name, and with that name comes a whole new sales pitch.
Enter The PlayStation TV: Sony’s little box that could. Essentially the same hardware with just a few software updates, Sony brings their hardware stateside with a new name and a world of possibilities. The reason for the re-branding is actually quite simple. There are eight million PS Vitas sold worldwide as of the writing of this article. This is compared to ten million PlayStation 4s and 83 million PlayStation 3s. To pigeonhole yourself into such a small demographic and distort your messaging in such a way would just be plain irresponsible. So now that it has shed the aura of being merely a companion device, what does it have to offer and why does Sony think we need it?
You can’t find any game system this side of Ouya (R.I.P.) that will play games of this quality for under $100. Sony has really hit a magic number here. Not only will it be able to play games, but it will also have streaming capabilities. We’re not sure yet on the specifics of what programs will and won’t be supported but one can assume that popular applications such as Netflix and HBO Go are on the horizon. With devices such as Roku and Chromecast taking over modern living rooms these days, the importance of streaming functionality cannot be overstated. If Sony can get their message across to parents that this thing also doubles as a streaming device we may see some big sales numbers this holiday season.
The possibility of being able to play my PlayStation 4 in my bedroom while the console sits in my living room is definitely an intriguing possibility. Sony has been very vocal about their enthusiasm behind remote play, but at the same time it requires an incredibly fast internet connection. Even then performance can be shoddy at times, so this feature may be a bit too niche to be a real hardware pusher. That being said, the idea of remote play may be enough to entice hardcore gamers and as Sony continues to work out the kinks it could be a real force is the console space.
In my opinion this is the real endgame. When Sony purchased Gaikai for $380 million, fans, media, and analysts alike were overcome by a mutual sense of curiosity and skepticism. All we’ve seen so far is a beta. Some questions were answered, but most were left on the table for us to keep wondering. The idea of PlayStation Now is wildly ambitious and involves a considerable amount of risk but could be an absolute gold mine if the execution is where it needs to be. People like their media. They like getting what they want and they like getting it fast. If the PlayStation TV can serve as a Trojan Horse for PlayStation Now and if PlayStation Now is the service we all hope it will be, we’ll start to see a lot more of these little boxes that could end up in more and more homes. This plan involves a lot of “ifs,” and in the end Sony may end up striking out on all fronts, but with them at the top of their game right now, why wouldn’t they go for a home run?
PlayStation TV launches in the North America on October 14 for $99.99.