Sony has blamed broadband issues for delaying the launch of Gaikai in Europe.
While American gamers will be able to enjoy the cloud gaming service that lets you play PS4, PS3 and PS Vita games over a broadband connection from next year, Europe is facing an indefinite wait.
Even though Gaikai recommends download speeds of 5Mbps to work, speeds which most Europeans can easily achieve, Sony wants to iron out ‘issues of broadband’ before committing to a launch.
SCEE (Sony Computer Entertainment Europe) president and CEO Jim Ryan referred to ‘bumps in the road’ in an interview with EDGE:
“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.”
The implication here is that the quality of connections in Europe aren’t up to the job. If it’s purely down to speeds, then the latest figures from the EU suggest that Europe can handle Gaikai no problem.
The condition of broadband in the United States isn’t significantly better than it is in Europe. The latest State of the Internet report from Akamai shows that the average speed enjoyed by Americans is lower than those enjoyed in Switzerland, the Netherlands, Latvia, the Czech Republic and Sweden. So it doesn’t necessarily follow that there’s a European broadband issue.
Recently, Sony announced that it had selected Virgin Media as its launch partner for the PlayStation 4. Customers are being promised exciting benefits but it’s not known exactly what that means yet.
It’s thought that Virgin Media could be launching a premium broadband service designed for PS4 gamers offerings speeds of up to 1Gbps.
It’s not expected that Sony will want to limit availability of Gaikai strictly to those who can get superfast broadband as it will want to maximise its appeal. Ofcom’s latest report on superfast broadband packages from BT, Plusnet and Virgin Media suggest that these services will offer a much better experience for gamers than ADSL-based products. While headline speeds are less important for gaming, rates of latency, packet loss and jitter (which are more important) are lower on fibre and cable-based broadband.
But if Sony can launch Gaikai in the US where speeds aren’t much better than they are over here, then there must be another reason for its cautious approach to Europe. Given that broadband doesn’t seem to be the real issue, there must be something else.