Ever since the end of last year’s E3, PlayStation users have been testing out PlayStation Now. For those in the dark, PlayStation Now is Sony’s streaming gaming service which lets players try out a variety of games from Sony’s library on the PlayStation Network. Seeing as how gaming is increasingly heading into an (almost) all-digital future, and the popularity of streaming apps like Netflix, a service like PlayStation Now is something that people are looking for these days.
The pricing model for games on PlayStation Now was somewhat controversial to say the least. For example, Guacamelee cost $15 to rent for 90 days even though one could buy and own the game for the same amount. Many other games shared equally ridiculous pricing. Many people weren’t on board with this sort of price plan and wanted a subscription deal which would bring prices down to a level which was more affordable.
As Sony promised, they did indeed reveal the subscription model for PlayStation Now which will officially launch on January 13th. As things stand, one month of the service will cost $19.99 while three months will cost $44.99. On the surface of it, this seems like a bad deal, especially considering that there are only 100 games available to play on the PlayStation 4, many of which are PlayStation 3 titles which people either already own or which can be purchased cheaply from video game retailers.
While initially dubious about this pricing model, I had some time to things over (specifically in the long-term) and decided that it’s actually pretty good… pretty DAMN good. Yeah, the prices are steep for what is currently available, but in time, this will not only be a great value to gamers, but will help to further push an all-digital, console-less future.
Right now this is only available on the PlayStation 4 and one can only play 100 PlayStation 3 games. In the future however, this service will extend to the PlayStation 3, and PlayStation Vita with an ever increasing library which could encompass the vast majority of games released for all of Sony’s systems past and present. If you go by the three month $44.99 option, that’s roughly $15 a month. This is a price people have been paying to play MMOs for years. Considering that it will be $15 for the ability to play thousands of games and not just one, this is a steal.
Where things get more interesting is outside of the console/handheld market. The PlayStation Now beta was already available on Sony Bravia TVs and the full version will no doubt be as well. The service will also be extended to be on Sony’s smartphones and tablets. This means that you won’t even need to own a console to play the games available on PlayStation Now. The implication of something like this cannot be overstated.
Imagine a future where people buy a television which is already set to play video games. These games wouldn’t be garden variety mobile games either but AAA titles like Uncharted, inFAMOUS, The Last of Us, and many of the big third party gamess as well. Paying $15 a month to have (potentially) thousands of games at your disposal is a bargain that few could pass on if they don’t own a console. Even for console owners with a huge video game library, paying that much a month for access to more games than they could possibly afford would be beneficial.
There are some things to consider however. The main one of course is internet speeds. Though millions of gamers play online every hour of every day, internet infrastructures (particularly here in the good ‘ol U.S.A) aren’t completely reliable. For a service which is totally dependent on the internet, this could cause bumps along the road.
Latency is another potential problem as well. While my experience with PlayStation Now was seamless, it was under the most ideal conditions at Sony’s E3 booth. The millions who play it at home won’t be so lucky. Having too much lag in a game would be detrimental to the experience but considering that few complaints about this (or about lag) have been heard during the beta phase, perhaps this may be relegated to a few isolated incidents.
Even though paying the equivalent of $15 a month for the three month plan isn’t exactly bad or wallet busting, for the amount of games currently available on PlayStation Now, it isn’t the time to dive in just yet. In the future however this service will be one that few could afford NOT to have. It could potentially make gaming even more popular than it already is by getting games into homes without the need for a console. PlayStation Now could open wide the gates to the all-digital video game future that is already slowly seeping in.
PlayStation Now is something everyone should keep their eyes on. If Sony plays their cards right, they could be the ones to cause the next big revolution in gaming through this service. We’ll see how things turn out and if gamers will accept this method of getting and playing their games.