Sony is almost ready to let gamers check out PlayStation Now, their cloud streaming service for PS3 games. They've begun sending out beta invitations to select PS3 owners. These lucky souls will be able to go hands-on with PS Now very soon.
"With this invitation, you will receive exclusive access to test PlayStation's game streaming service before its full launch and the opportunity to provide your regular feedback to the PlayStation Now team," the email sent to select NeoGAF users and IGN.
The invite contains a link to an beta agreement. Once you've accepted the agreement, you'll be eligible to receive an actual voucher for the beta. Sony says that the email with the voucher and instructions on how to redeem it will be sent out "in the coming days."
PlayStation Now, developed by Gaikai, allows players to stream PS3 titles over the Internet. As a result, the quality of its performance depends on your Internet connection. Sony recommends that you have an Ethernet connection of 5 MBps or higher.
Though today's invites were apparently only sent to PS3 owners, the service will be available on PS4 as well when it debuts this summer. Eventually Sony plans to release Now on Vita, Bravia televisions, tablets and smartphones. You'll have to pay a subscription, though.
What's really exciting about PlayStation Now is that it gives a sort of backwards-compatibility to the PS4. The PS4 is unable to play digital or disc-based PS3 games. It's a shame that Now won't let you stream PS3 titles you already own. However, at least Now ensures that these older games won't fall by the wayside as the next generation of consoles proceeds.
PlayStation Now hasn't been announced for PS2 or PSOne games. That means that the PS4 still won't be able to play those older titles even after Now launches. However, a report published yesterday suggests that Sony will add emulation support for PS2 and PS1 titles to the PS4 through an update. Sony has yet to confirm this rumor, though.
You can still sign up for the beta at PlayStation Now's website. It's possible that Sony will continue inviting testers in waves so don't lose hope if you didn't receive an email from them today. I'd expect them to test the service on PS4 and other hardware as well before launch.