In a nutshell: More evidence has emerged indicating that Sony is working on improving its cloud gaming platform. It recently started tests to see if it could handle streaming PlayStation 5 games. The company wants to add PS5 titles to the existing cloud-gaming catalog. However, it may also be conducting stress tests to see if it can handle the more demanding titles in an effort to transition Project Q into a cloud streaming device rather than just a Remote Play accessory.
Sony has started PlayStation 5 cloud-gaming tests. The console maker said it plans to offer a PS5 streaming feature to PlayStation Plus Premium members. The perk will include select titles from the PS+ catalog, trials, and owned games.
"We're currently testing cloud streaming for supported PS5 games – this includes PS5 titles from the PlayStation Plus Game Catalog and Game Trials, as well as supported digital PS5 titles that players own," said Sony Interactive Entertainment exec Nick Maguire in a Wednesday blog post.
Maguire stated that the company was focused on enhancing the value of its top-tier subscription for existing and new subscribers. However, there may be a secondary motive for the tests.
Last month, Sony officially announced Project Q, a portable gaming device that allows users to play PS5 games via the Remote Play app. The device is strictly for receiving content streamed from the user's console and has no cloud-gaming capabilities. This weakness leaves it with little to offer over other alternatives like Remote Play on a smartphone or tablet with a controller.
Shortly after announcing Project Q, Sony CEO Kenichiro Yoshida said in an interview that cloud gaming is problematic because of the "technical challenges." However, the company is ready to tackle those obstacles. It was a slightly odd statement considering Sony has been developing its cloud-gaming platform, formerly called PlayStation Now, for over 10 years.
In light of the Project Q development, it could be that Sony sees that the handheld is not that attractive if it can only stream games from a PS5. It likely wants to pivot the Q into a position where it can handle gaming through Remote Play or directly from the cloud but needs to ensure that it delivers a satisfying experience. This ability would make the device more palatable for users who have mostly scoffed at the idea. It would also set up PlayStation Plus as a better competitor to Xbox Game Pass, which already offers cloud gaming to customers.
Maguire didn't have a date for the PS+ cloud-gaming option. The feature is currently in the "early stages," so it might be a while. The company appears to be working on adding titles on a case-by-case basis and likely wants to ensure it has enough meat on the bones before revamping the entire platform.
It's worth mentioning that PS Now was folded into PS+ Premium, so customers can currently stream games, but only for PS4, PS3, and classic titles. Unfortunately, PS Now has struggled to drive subscriptions for years due to lag and latency issues, which eventually led Sony to allow players to download games. Until this issue is fixed, PS+ Premium growth will likely stagnate since cloud gaming is its primary perk.