The PlayStation 4’s upcoming ‘Play As You Download’ feature has been claimed by creators Sony as a way to create a ‘practical digital library’ a viable option for gamers, and one which they believe can revolutionise the way that games and digital content are purchased and consumed.
Speaking to Official PlayStation Magazine at the ‘Develop Conference’ in Brighton (England), Sony Computer Entertainment’s ‘R&D Europe team leader’ Neil Brown discussed how their new option, which does not require a game to be installed, will enable players to play the games on any PlayStation 4 console from their account regardless of whether or not that console carries the game on its hard drive, thanks to cloud streaming methods.
Brown summarised: “You can visit your friend’s house, you can log into your account and play any game from your digital library, which is good. But how useful is that if it takes half a day to download the game you want to play? With Play As You Download you get much quicker access to at least the first section of the game so you can start playing quicker. So this makes a digital library a practical option in the real world.”
He went on to compare the process to an existing format of media that will be upgraded, adding: “A similar system also works on Blu-ray [discs for PlayStation games], chunks are automatically copied to the hard drive in the background. This means that after the first few minutes, your game can rely on having faster read speeds from the hard drive. This provides a better experience for players and is a completely background process for the player. They don’t have to wait for anything to install before playing the game. The game will launch as soon as the disk has been put in the drive.”
An example given for this approach to game streaming came recently from developers Guerrilla Games, who suggested that their upcoming title Killzone: Shadow Fall will be ready to play from the moment the game’s initial ‘chunk’ containing the ‘menu & first level’ has been downloaded and/or installed (depending on format). It will be a process that will save a lot of time and impatience for players than current ‘press download and wait’ approaches to digital content particularly in gaming, but given the current nature of the digital content market, will Sony’s new approach be a prime candidate for scrutiny by console fans?
For the obligatory ‘meanwhile at Xbox’ part of the story, meanwhile, the controversial issue of ‘DRM content’ may not be over yet, at the very least if a group of fans get their way, after a new petition was launched on the website Change, encouraging Microsoft to ‘Give us back the Xbox One we were promised at E3′.
If you want to brighten up your day with good humour or feel some disillusionment, the petition quotes: “This [the Xbox One] was to be the future of entertainment. A new wave of gaming where you could buy games digitally, then trade, share or sell those digital licenses. Essentially, it was Steam for Xbox. But consumers were uninformed, and railed against it, and it was taken away because Sony took advantage of consumers’ uncertainty.”
Conspiracy theorists instantly claiming that the ‘fans’ in this petition are clearly employees of Microsoft and/or the game publishers (that would benefit from such a move) in this case have a very believable point… either that or it is all just a huge joke that over 17,000 people are in on, you could join them if you like…