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Slow Broadband ISP Speeds Delay Sonys Cloud-based Online Gaming Service

Tuesday, September 3rd, 2013 (1:47 pm) - Score 848

Entertainment giant Sony (SCEE) has confirmed that its Gaikai video streaming technology, which will allow gamers to remotely play PS3 and PS4 (PlayStation) games by using their existing broadband connection (i.e. without first having to download anything), won’t arrive in the UK and Europe until later due to concerns over the quality of internet access.

Sony gobbled up Gaikai for around £244 Million ($380M) last year and originally envisaged it being launched in early 2014 alongside their new PlayStation 4 console, which would make it easier for consumers to trial new PS4 games and also offer some degree of backwards compatibility for those whom already owned PS3 games (it will eventually come to the PS3 and Vita too).

However, while Sony still expects Gaikai to reach North America in 2014, the firm is now considerably less able to offer any kind of timescale for the intended European launch.

Jim Ryan, SCEE President and CEO, told EDGE:

So the plan is to begin with North America next year and the plan is to provide a streaming service that will allow for PS3 content initially to be streamed to firstly PS4 then PS Vita and then PS3.

And so that will happen in 2014 in North America initially. Now, and I touched upon these issues of broadband in Europe during the presentation – Europe is of course on the roadmap for that service to be deployed at some point in the future, but for reasons outside of our control we don’t yet have a timeline for it.

We’ve got a roadmap, there’s just a few bumps along the road that need to be ironed out.”

Apparently those “bumps along the road” are a reference to the allegedly patchy quality of broadband around Europe and Sony appears to be suggesting that the infrastructure in some countries simply isn’t up to the job. In fairness this is somewhat of an unusual position given the similarly patchy quality of broadband across the various North American states.

Likewise why should countries, such as the United Kingdom, Sweden and many others where most people do now have access to good broadband connectivity, be left excluded from the service just because some other states and rural areas might not be able to benefit.

Lest we not forget that BT managed to have some success by bundling the rival OnLive service alongside its broadband packages between late 2011 and the middle of 2012. Unfortunately this was only a time-limited promotion and many consumers lost interest once the temporary usage exclusions were lifted. OnLive then narrowly avoided bankruptcy and since then the service hasn’t really made any new headway (here).

Meanwhile Sony has already selected cable operator Virgin Media to be its partner ISP for PS4’s launch in the United Kingdom (here). Related customers are being promised “loads of exciting benefits“, which could include special service bundles and possibly even the launch of a new 200Mbps package that’s been talked about for the past few years.

At the time of writing more than 70% of the United Kingdom should be able to receive a superfast broadband (25Mbps+) connection and this is expected to reach approximately 88% by December 2015 and possibly 95% come 2017. So come on Sony.. at least give us a better excuse. It might help if we knew what Gaikai’s Internet speed requirements were going to be, although from trials last year we do know that it worked fine on a 15Mbps ADSL2+ link.

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By Mark Jackson
Mark is a professional technology writer, IT consultant and computer engineer from Dorset (England), he also founded ISPreview in 1999 and enjoys analysing the latest telecoms and broadband developments. Find me on Twitter, , Facebook and Linkedin.
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