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Sony announces cloud-based gaming, TV services as PlayStation 4 sales top 4.2 million

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Sony Computer Entertainment president Andrew House reveals PlayStation Now.

Sony Computer Entertainment president Andrew House reveals PlayStation Now.

Sony has announced hotly-anticipated streaming gaming and television services along with the news that it sold more than 4.2 million PlayStation 4 consoles by the end of 2013, outselling Microsoft's Xbox One by 1.2 million.

PlayStation Now, set to begin a test phase this month and launch in the US mid-year, promised to let gamers access blockbuster titles in the cloud and play them on an array of devices intended to expand over time.

Sony's PlayStation 4.

Sony's PlayStation 4.

The new streaming game service will provide PlayStation gamers access to games they love from older-generation consoles and grow to extend play to other internet linked devices such as smartphones and tablets, according to Sony Computer Entertainment president Andrew House.

A lament of gamers shifting to new-generation consoles is that the devices don't play games tailored for earlier models. Sony's service will begin by providing hit titles for play on PlayStation 4 and PlayStation 3 consoles, and then the Japanese entertainment titan's handheld Vita game devices.

"We are thrilled to deliver entertainment experiences only possible from PlayStation through our new streaming game service," said House.

Sony was demonstrating the service on some Bravia smart television models at its booth at the Consumer Electronics Show.

The goal of the service is to let people "play where ever they want, when ever they want" and incorporates technology from cloud gaming company Gaikai, which Sony bought in 2012 for $US380 million.

Gamers will be able to rent titles at PlayStation Now or pay for monthly subscriptions to the service, according to House.

Sales figures

House updated PlayStation 4 sales figures to say that 4.2 million consoles had been sold as of December 28 of last year, outselling the rival Xbox One by 1.2 million units.

Microsoft said earlier this week it had sold more than 3 million Xbox One consoles in 2013, following the $599 console's launch on November 22.

The PlayStation 4 launched a week later in Australia on November 29 for $549, although it had a head start in the US, where it went on sale on November 15.

The consoles were neck and neck earlier in the race, with each selling more than 1 million units on their respective launch days and more than 2 million units in their first 18 days.

Streaming TV service

Sony will also begin testing a cloud-based television service in the US later this year, according to House.

The service will combine popular live television programs with a large library of on-demand content, according to Sony. Shows or films will be delivered through the PlayStation gaming system and stream to an array of devices, including tablets and smartphones made by competitors.

House heralded the new television service as a natural evolution of Sony's moves to combine strengths in entertainment, gaming and consumer electronics.

Sony's effort builds on similar moves by Microsoft and Intel. Viewers could buy viewing packages through Sony, much as customers now do through cable operators. As envisioned, the service would allow subscribers to play games, call up TV shows and movies, and tune into broadcast channels via a single box.

Sony chief executive Kaz Hirai said the company had struck up "a good dialogue" with content holders and media companies. 

The company, which already owns a major film and entertainment production business, says it is trying to create a more personal service for consumers accustomed to getting much of their TV content through cable providers.

Pricing details for the gaming and television services were not revealed, and there was no word if Sony planned to expand the television service to Australia in the future.

AFP, Reuters, Fairfax Media

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