New Sony patent reveals possible PS5 game-streaming service that will rival Stadia

Accepted Sony patent reveals possible Stadia-rivalling game-streaming service
Image credit: Sony

Sony could well be working on a game streaming service for PS5. That's according to the latest rumour, based on a recently discovered patent. This could position PS5 as a streaming rival to Google Stadia, and massively broaden the capabilities of the console. It’s worth noting that although Sony already has a foot in the streaming door via PlayStation Now, a cloud gaming service set up in 2014, the fact that this new patent wasn’t filed until later that same year (April 21 2014, to be precise) would suggest it’s talking about something different. Perhaps this new idea is the next evolution of PlayStation Now? 

According to a now-accepted 79-page patent (well spotted, Digital Trends) Sony is beavering away on a "system for combining recorded application state with application streaming interactive video output". Which, in the simplest of terms translates as a streaming service, much like that outlined by Google recently: players stream a game through a hosting server, and often achieve better performance than is capable on their native hardware. So, you can simulate the performance of a high-end gaming PC, without actually owning a high-end gaming PC.

This would entail, broadly speaking, connecting your device via an internet connection to a main host server, and streaming it to the device's screen - no matter how big or small said screen is. It sounds easy, convenient and attractive as it reduces the hardware burden consumers have, and it'll mean you can play what you want, whenever you want, as long you have that stable internet connection and a subscription to the service. Though there are some issues to iron out such as questions about latency and delay in streaming something so detailed from a single server, and the fact that many players still prefer to own hardware and software themselves - streaming might take away the need for ownership of both.

Image credit: Sony/ United States Patent and Trademark Office

Image credit: Sony/ United States Patent and Trademark Office

The patent does shed some light on how we would actually use and access this service: with subscription fees. Not an enormous surprise, but the two models outlined in the patent see the fee either going to Sony directly (who then pay the developers/publishers), or the fee going straight to the developers/publishers who then pay Sony for the pleasure of using the service. Nothing concrete on either of these as of yet, but in real terms for the end user, its the same method.

Could it launch alongside the PS5 as an alternative, purely cloud-based PlayStation experience? No news on that yet, but it might provide an attractive proposition, though we're keen to see questions answered on such game streaming services before advocating diving in. Streaming is popular right now, and the prevalence of the likes of Netflix suggest it's here to stay, but until now all we've seen of PS5 suggests it's a home console first and foremost, so this patent could suggest a dual-launch for PS5, with one standard console and perhaps a cheaper, all digital streaming console (like the new Xbox One S All-digital).

And some PS5 VR news...

Anything else? Why yes, actually. Elsewhere, in a separate but clearly linked patent that was published recently (props to UploadVR for catching this one), there seems to also be a hint toward PSVR 2. On the face of it, the sentence "prescription glasses with eye gaze tracking and electro optical signaling to a HMD" doesn't scream breaking news (and could even hints at an unlikely move into the optician business), but it could be a big hint to the next-gen of Sony's own VR gear. HMD stands for Head for Mounted Device, so this isn't just a pair of glasses: these would be custom-designed for each user and given the mixed experience wearers of glasses have had with VR headsets this looks like a concerted effort to make a VR headset much more comfortable for that audience and intentionally designed, perhaps for inclusion with PSVR 2. 

Want more? Here's our look at - based on what we know - what the PS5 price might be when it launches.

Rob Dwiar

Rob is the Deputy Editor of sister site, TechRadar Gaming, and has been in the games and tech industry for years. Prior to a recent stint as Gaming Editor at WePC, Rob was the Commissioning Editor for Hardware at GamesRadar+, and was on the hardware team for more than four years, since its inception in late 2018. He is also a writer on games and has had work published over the last six years or so at the likes of Eurogamer, RPS, PCGN, and more. He is also a qualified landscape and garden designer, so does that in his spare time, while he is also an expert on the virtual landscapes and environments of games and loves to write about them too, including in an upcoming book on the topic!