The precise meaning of “cloud gaming services” is unclear – but looking at what’s offered by Sony’s and Microsoft’s consoles today may provide some clues to the direction Sony’s heading in.
Both companies offer cloud saving, so they’re not going to announce anything there. Cloud-based processing is possible, but it’s hard to see what that would bring the PS3. Sony could milk a cloud provider for a little more processing power, but it would seem more likely that whatever agreement Sony’s working on would go the other way, allowing people to play PS3 games on other devices. Cloud based distribution is also a very real possibility. Could Sony be working on a combination of the two?
The reason why Sony might consider hamstringing potential PS3 sales is simple: The console is going to be six years old this November and there aren’t that many potential sales left. Sony and Microsoft both have new consoles in the pipeline – something that’s sure to make would-be customers think twice before buying a new machine.
That there’s a new console just around the corner could also have an impact on game sales. Recently, hardware sales have been more about market penetration than profit. They provide a good indication of potential software sales. Today, the PS3 is at the wrong end of the development cycle, and that could start impacting software sales with budget-conscious gamers.
Removing the PS3 from the equation would allow Sony to increase market penetration at a time when console sales are likely to be very, very flat. And, games-on-demand could extract more software dollars from existing console owners. That, after all, is what the gaming business is all about.