A work in progress: Despite the failure of Google's Stadia, Sony has indicated it's ready to lay its money on the cloud-gaming line with the upcoming Project Q. Project Q is a gaming platform that, at launch, will utilize Remote Play to broadcast content from your PlayStation 5 to the handheld. However, it seems clear that Sony would eventually like Project Q to become a stand-alone cloud-gaming device.

The potential for Project Q to become an independent cloud-gaming alternative seems intuitive, but even by Sony's own admission, the technology isn't where it needs to be to promise a satisfying gaming experience. Sony CEO Kenichiro Yoshida recently told the Financial Times cloud gaming is still tricky.

"I think [the] cloud itself is an amazing business model, but when it comes to games, the technical difficulties are high," said Yoshida-san.

Even streaming from a PlayStation to another device on a local area network (LAN) is not all that it's cracked up to be, which raises a big question about Sony's decision to produce a device that relies only on Remote Play. Speaking from personal experience, I have used Remote Play locally and over the internet for several years, and I don't think it's ready for most games.

Remote Play works best on a LAN in an ad-hoc setup, but there is still noticeable latency, especially in fast-paced games. Most recently, I tried to play Far Cry: New Dawn and found the game playable and enjoyable when just exploring. However, aiming in a hectic firefight was problematic at best. And that was while playing on a LAN. Over the internet, it ranges from mostly playable to forget about it, depending on the connection, even for slower-paced games. Cloud gaming still faces the same problems, and the company knows this.

Sony launched PlayStation Now in 2014, and I have watched it mature from day one. It was terrible at first and got better with time, but by 2018 Sony decided streaming was just not good enough to attract the number of subscribers it needed to maintain the platform. So it added the ability to download games to the PS4 to play them locally. After that, it seemingly dropped the ball on further developing the streaming aspect.

The platform still exists today but was rolled into the PlayStation Plus Premium service when Sony restructured its subscription platform. It still has the hybrid streaming/download format giving the PlayStation 5 multiplatform back compatibility via emulation. However, the streaming component is still underdeveloped.

Sony has a vested interest in improving the technology, considering that Microsoft has more or less gone all-in on cloud gaming in its Xbox Game Pass. Xbox boss Phil Spencer has aggressively guided Game Pass, aiming to take console games to every imaginable platform including PC, smart TVs, and mobile devices.

"There will be challenges to cloud gaming, but we want to take on those challenges," Yoshida-san said.

And indeed, they had better. For Project Q to be more than a mediocre PS5 accessory, it will have to overcome the problems inherent in streaming interactive media over a LAN, let alone over the internet. Otherwise, Project Q and Sony's other plans in the cloud-gaming sphere will go nowhere.