Sony is expanding the PlayStation 4’s Remote Play feature to PC and Mac, letting users stream their console games to laptops and desktops.
The new feature is part of a PlayStation 3.50 software update that’s set to launch on Wednesday. After getting the update, PS4 owners can download the Remote Play PC installer from Sony’s website.
To stream games, users will need a PC running Windows 8.1 or higher, or a Mac running OS X 10.10 or higher. A DualShock 4 controller must be plugged into the computer via USB.
Why this matters: Until now, Sony has required either a PlayStation Vita handheld or PlayStation TV set-top box to remotely stream PS4 games. Neither device has been a strong seller, so expanding Remote Play to PC makes sense. While there’s nothing like playing a game natively on a big TV, PC streaming can be helpful when someone’s using that TV for something else, or you want to hang out in a different part of the house.
PC streaming: Xbox vs. PlayStation 4
The PlayStation 4 isn’t the only console to support streaming on a PC. Last year, Microsoft added a similar feature to the Xbox One, and it’s in some ways better and worse than Sony’s version.
Unlike Microsoft, which requires a PC running Windows 10, Sony is also supporting Mac and Windows 8.1. Remote Play for PlayStation 4 works over the Internet as well, so you can stream games from outside the house. The Xbox One only supports home network streaming, unless you rely on an unofficial, complicated workaround.
However, the Xbox One currently supports a higher streaming quality than the PlayStation 4, with up to 1080p and 60 frames per second on its “Very High” setting. Sony’s Remote Play tops out at 720p and 60 frames per second, and defaults to 540p and 30 frames per second.
In my experience, Xbox One to PC streaming has been smooth and nearly lag-free, even on Very High settings. (Valve’s PC-to-PC In-Home-Streaming has also worked well.) Hopefully Sony can provide a similar experience when PC Remote Play launches on Wednesday.