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PS5 cloud gaming is coming — and it won’t be Xbox Game Pass clone

PS5 restock
(Image credit: Shutterstock)

Cloud gaming is coming to the PS5 at some point, though we shouldn’t expect Sony to rush a decision just because Xbox Series X already has a head start.

This news comes with PlayStation boss Jim Ryan, speaking to Nikkei, who confirmed that Sony is working on some form of cloud gaming integration, but it isn’t ready to reveal what the plans are. But whatever the cloud brings to PlayStation consoles will be “unique and only on PlayStation.”

Sony previously announced a “strategic partnership” with Microsoft back in 2019, which would see the Japanese firm utilize Redmond's Azure cloud servers for any possible cloud gaming and content streaming it might offer.

But with Microsoft expanding the coverage of cloud gaming to Xbox Game Pass Ultimate members to iOS and Windows 10 users, Ryan said that now wasn’t the right time to be making any decisions about what cloud gaming on the PS5 will look like.

“We’re still having conversations with [Microsoft] about exchanging ideas,” he said. “We’re still talking to them about exchanging ideas, and there’s some very interesting stuff, so when the time is right, we’ll announce our cloud strategy. 

“We could conceivably use the cloud for our technical infrastructure, but the cloud gaming experience we’re offering will be unique and only on PlayStation.”

Ryan also remained tight-lipped about how cloud gaming might affect the traditional console release cycle. Apparently it’s difficult to say what might happen in six or seven years, when we could conceivably see the launch of the PS6. It sounds difficult to predict what the future might hold, and we’re not likely to know more until the end of the current console cycle.

In any case Ryan pointed out that he was told the last generation would be the last to involve stand-alone game machines. Naturally that turned out to be wrong, and the PS5 is now selling incredibly well — despite stock shortages. 

So it’s a little premature to be making any predictions about the future. At the moment Ryan is focussed on learning how people are enjoying the PS5, and how that can be utilized in PlayStation’s future.

PlayStation gaming in the cloud

PS5

(Image credit: Shutterstock)

Sony could perceivably go off and create a game streaming service similar to Google Stadia and other platforms that play games on cloud servers. But it sounds like Sony is also weighing up different ideas on what could be done. 

Something other than a straight Game Pass clone would help Sony and the PS5 continue to stand apart from Microsoft's gaming division. But it's worth noting that Game Pass is highly successful and is pretty much a must-have service for the Xbox Series X and Xbox Series S.

So if Sony were to mimic Game Pass but mix in the stellar PlayStation exclusives it had over the console generations, it could chase the subscription service's success. But then setting up or procuring the infrastructure to deliver solid cloud-powered gaming can be a major task, as well as a costly one. 

Microsoft can deliver game streaming thanks to its vast cloud infrastructure, whereas Sony would likely need to ride off the back of another company's systems. As mentioned earlier, it could even use Microsoft's Azure cloud.

As such, taking a different approach that, say, mixes in cloud elements with traditional console gaming could be one way for Sony to forge its own cloud gaming path. 

While the PS5 is not going to lose any popularity contests, a unique hook on cloud gaming would be exactly what it needs to better compete. It’s just not entirely clear what that service might look like. Nevertheless, it looks like the cloud will play a part in Sony's PlayStation future in one form or another. 

Tom Pritchard

Tom covers a little bit of everything at Tom’s Guide, ranging from the latest electric cars all the way down to hot takes on why Christopher Nolan is wrong about everything. Appliances are also muscling their way into his routine, which is a pretty long way from his days as Editor at Gizmodo UK. He’s usually found trying to squeeze another giant Lego set onto the shelf, draining very large cups of coffee, or complaining that Ikea won’t let him buy the stuff he really needs online.