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Even Sony's Playstation Now Can't Kill Retro Video Games

Tickers in this article: GME MSFT SNE

PORTLAND, Ore. (TheStreet) -- In the wake of Sony's announcement of its Playstation Now game streaming service at the Consumer Electronics Show last week, this has to be the end of retro gaming as we know it, right?

No more sales for strictly-retro vendors such as Englewood, Colo.'s JJ Games. No more classic video game tournaments at Laconia, N.H.'s gaming mecca Funspot. No more cartridge swapping and tables full of bygone consoles at the Portland Retro Gaming Expo. Now that Sony's shown the way forward, all of those fading cabinets, oxidizing cartridges and scratched discs aren't necessary for enjoying vintage games anymore, right?

Not even a little. In theory, Playstation Now would take just about all of Sony's contributions to home gaming out of the equation by making games for the Playstation 1, 2, 3 and, eventually, 4 available via streaming through Sony's Playstation Vita handheld, televisions, tablets and smartphones. Sony's presentation alone was enough to make used-game retailer GameStop's share price plummet by 8.5%. While it's still a worrisome prospect for GameStop, which took in $2.4 billion in sales from used games alone last year, even that retailer doesn't seem too fazed. In fact, this was its immediate response to Sony's plan:

We are looking forward to working with them on including the new PlayStation Now service as part of our portfolio of gaming products we offer our customers.

That's largely because the Playstation Now is still only a theoretical threat to GameStop and just about every other video game medium. In cold, unflinching reality, Playstation Now is just a cool idea that Sony's recent purchase of streaming company Gaikai makes possible, but hasn't made workable. As the folks at Ars Technica pointed out, Sony needed to drag a server to Las Vegas just to make its presentation work. Even at that, there were a whole lot of issues with latency -- the delay between a gamer pressing a button and that action actually occurring onscreen -- for those who were able to try Playstation Now firsthand.

Folks who own a PlayStation 4 or a Nintendo Wii U and have tried taking a Vita or a screen-enabled controller for a spin around the house may have run into similar issues, as that's basically local game streaming through your router. While services such as OnLive have tried streaming games, it's been a tough slog at best.