Every trailer and teaser from every video game company on Earth ahead of E3 promises the same things: Revolutionary new services! Ground breaking announcements! News so earth shattering that your mind will literally split open and rays of pure enlightenment will flood your secret interior! Rumors and teases for weeks now have hinted that Sony is planning big announcements for E3, but the biggest rumor of all is swiftly looking like a reality: Sony is going to transform its gaming business by acquiring streaming, cloud-based games service Gaikai.
MCV reported on Wednesday that Sony is very near to finalizing a deal to acquire a streaming games service. The site’s source is quoted as saying the deal “is close to being signed.”
We reported last Thursday that Sony was rumored to be partnering with a streaming video game service and would announce the union at E3 in Los Angeles next week, but it was unknown which service in particular would be that partner. Gameblog.fr (via NeoGAF) reported on Wednesday though that Gaikai is now teasing a major announcement for E3 as well. An invitation to Gaikai’s event reads: “Gaikai has major announcements for E3 which have the potential to change the future of video games, game consoles, and the way in which we play.”
A partnership with Gaikai would massively broaden Sony’s potential gaming business. The PlayStation 3 itself could become the first major console to support a full streaming service, but a PlayStation-branded streaming service that hosts big budget console games like Mass Effect 3 and Resident Evil 6 on smartphones and tablets would widen Sony’s reach in the gaming business dramatically. It would also be a service that truly distinguished Sony’s home and portable consoles from the competition, a legitimate hook, something Sony has lacked in this console generation.
Of the nascent streaming, cloud-based game services out there, Gaikai is not quite as successful as OnLive. It simply doesn’t have as many partners providing game content, relying chiefly on Electronic Arts, Ubisoft, and Capcom for its content. This deal with Sony would likely strengthen its standing with publishers considerably, as Sony would act as a link to all of the publishers’ retail ambitions. The consoles themselves would help publishers maintain a physical retail presence, the PlayStation Network an established digital distribution center, and the remodeled Gaikai as reliable way to explore streaming content with a secure partner.
This could be a defining E3 for Sony.