"We've partnered with some of the biggest and most influential social networks in the world, including Facebook and Ustream, to bring gamers' friends into games like never before," former Gaikai CEO David Perry told attendees of Sony's PlayStation 4 event last week. It was the only mention Ustream got during the show, despite the video streaming service playing a critical role in Sony's next video game console. In-tandem with the PlayStation 4's new DualShock 4 controller and its "Share" button, users will be able to quickly upload saved gameplay video clips or directly stream their game out to the internet. The console's lead system architect, Mark Cerny, expanded on the importance of the Share button and its implications to the PlayStation 4 during last week's presentation. "Social play is so important to PlayStation 4 that we've added in hardware to support it, in the form of dedicated, always-on video compression and decompression systems," he said.
We saw a bit of the game sharing / streaming interface during Sony's presentation, but were left wondering about specifics: how will discovery work? and what of other, non-gaming Ustream content? Thankfully, Ustream CEO Brad Hunstable was able to offer up most of our answers in a recent interview. "Our goal is to allow discovery in a very clean user experience, both in discovery on the console itself and on various platforms that the content'll be available on (like Ustream, Twitter, and Facebook)," Hunstable said. He wouldn't speak to the specifics of how that discovery will work, nor would he say if you'll be able to sign-in simply using your PlayStation Network ID or if you'll have to sign up for a separate Ustream account, but he stressed that the decisions being made are, "based on what's easiest and best for the gamer." That same rubric is (thankfully) being applied to functionality. "The goal is to make sure it's very easy -- one click of a button, super simple -- and most importantly make sure it looks really, really good. And is viewable wherever people want to watch it from," Hunstable said.
As for console culture versus PC gaming, where streaming has been the norm for some time now, Hunstable's bullish on its reception. He even went as far as to call his company, "a modern day cable provider," while the PlayStation 4 is, "a modern day cable box." He cited gamers as "the modern day star" in this analogy; "The way I'm really thinking about it is you can think of gamers now having the ability to direct, produce, and star in their own video game production, their own video game TV show (if you will)." While we're not so sure we'd go that far just yet, something else he said made that concept a bit more realistic.
"It's very much our intention and plan to be able to serve the amazing content outside of gaming into these consoles for entertainment purposes. Whether that's a Justin Bieber concert or a Psy concert or an asteroid flyby like we had the other day from NASA (that had about the same viewership as the Sony PlayStation -- 8 million people, and one million concurrents as well), all the way down to your local high school football game. Our intention very much is to bring all the capability of Ustream into these environments."
Hunstable said we'll find out many more specifics in the coming months. He also confirmed that Ustream expects all of its promised PlayStation 4 functionality to be functioning and available alongside the console's launch this holiday.