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Sony Is About to Turn PCs Into PlayStations

A decade after its launch in November 2006, Sony’s PlayStation 3 is coming to Windows.

Sony says a PC-compatible version of its PlayStation Now cloud gaming service, which at the moment boasts a catalogue of more than 400 PlayStation 3 games, is imminent in the U.K., and the U.S. and Canada “shortly thereafter.” All you need are a PC, a sufficiently fast broadband connection and a PS Now subscription.

PS Now is Sony’s way of reaching backward to touch its generationally fragmented ecosystem of PlayStation games. Unlike Microsoft’s Xbox One, which supports hundreds of Xbox 360 games natively through emulation, the PlayStation 4 only plays PlayStation 4 games (and a small clutch of PlayStation 2 games, though the rollout’s been plodding). If players want continued access to earlier PlayStation games, that’s meant holding onto older models and in many cases physical copies of games. PS Now, which launched in May 2015, mitigates some of this by letting you play scads of PlayStation 3 games on select smart TVs and the PlayStation 3, 4 or Vita for $19.99 a month.

And now PCs. Sony says you’ll need a Windows 7 (SP1) or greater PC, at least a 3.5 GHz Intel Core i3 or 3.8 GHz AMD A10 processor, 300 MB or more of disk space and 2 GB or more of system memory, a sound card and USB port, and a minimum 5Mbps connection (a speed standard for the service to date; the company recommends a wired over wireless connection for an “optimal experience”). What you don’t need is any kind of PlayStation console. The new PC app will be downloadable from www.psnow.com.

What about the gamepad? You’ll need Sony’s DualShock 4. If you don’t have one, they retail new for $59.99 (though you can find it for less if you shop around). If you’d rather not plug a USB cable into your PC to connect the gamepad, Sony says it’ll offer a DualShock 4 USB Wireless Adaptor, available in “early September,” for $24.99. The adapter works with both PCs and Macs, and though PS Now isn’t (yet?) supported on a Mac, Sony says it’ll work with Remote Play, an existing app that lets PlayStation TV, Xperia smartphones and tablets as well as PC or Mac owners stream content direct from their PlayStations 4s.

So what’s really going on here? Nothing non-obvious. As Sony SVP and PlayStation Network honcho Eric Lempel told me: “I think it shows great potential to expand the audience to people who haven’t owned a PlayStation, but have heard a lot about these titles that are critically acclaimed and can now jump in.” That may be true of exclusives like God of War III, The Last of Us and Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception, though when it comes to multi-platform titles, PC gamers would, without hesitation, explain why the native PC versions reign supreme. But you have to pay for those PC games discretely, whereas Sony’s peddling all-you-can-eat flat rate library access.

How long until Sony expands the service beyond PlayStation 3 games? “I think you’ve seen over the years that we continue to evolve our services, and add interesting functionality and content over time,” says Lempel. “So today, it’s a PlayStation 3 proposition, but we’ll continue to explore other options in the future. Alternative devices, alternative content, all of that is possible.”

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