The PlayStation TV is a curious oddity. The $100 device, a rebranded Vita TV that's slated to launch in North America and Europe later this fall, is Sony's direct answer to the Apple TV, Roku and Amazon Fire TV streaming boxes currently flooding the market. It's also the only box of the bunch capable of offering a video game experience that goes beyond just casual gaming. In fact, the PlayStation TV's library of titles spans several platforms: the PS Vita, PSP, PS One, PS3 (via PS Now's cloud streaming) and PS4 over Remote Play. It'll also offer consumers the ability to stream video content. But with the PS4 occupying the top spot in the PlayStation totem pole, we have to wonder: Just who is the PlayStation TV for?
"We're really going after this new audience of families with kids that can play [PlayStation TV] together, with games that are accessible." That's what Sharon Kapitula, platform planning manager for PlayStation, had to say about Sony's plan to launch the tiny streaming/gaming box in the US. In fact, you can see this approach in the company's decision to offer a bundle with The Lego Movie Videogame and a DualShock 3, the controller that shipped with the PS3, in the box. "[We] feel like that's the easiest and most accessible [way] for people just coming into the PlayStation ecosystem," she said. "We figure the guys or girls that already have a PS4 will already have a DualShock 4, so they can transfer it... if they're buying the standalone hardware."
The PlayStation TV is a Trojan horse of sorts for PlayStation; it's a low-cost way for non-gamers to enter the ecosystem. Sony's hoping the device will help reintroduce consumers who may have lost interest in gaming back into the fold with familiar experiences.
The company's also making sure to educate developers working on PS Vita titles so that controls remain compatible when played with the DualShock 3. That said, Sony's not mandating developers tailor every experience to the PlayStation TV. Kapitula said that most are "keeping that in mind ... when they're building their titles. And most games, if it makes sense, they'll have it on both. But that's not to say that if we did happen to have another amazing title like Tearaway that needs to be Vita exclusive, then it wouldn't happen."
There's just one major unknown in Sony's announcement of the PlayStation TV and that's what third-party streaming-video apps it'll launch with, if any. Kapitula wouldn't directly comment on which apps we'd see make their way to the device, but she did say Sony is "looking to partner with the different companies [it] partnered with on other platforms." It's the strongest hint that we'll be seeing the likes of Netflix, Hulu, Amazon and even HBO Go arrive on PlayStation TV. Whether they'll be around on day one, though, is an entirely different matter.
[Image credit: Sony PlayStation]
Sony PlayStation TV
Sony PlayStation Vita PCH-2000