Elaborated during Sony’s conference at CES 2014, PlayStation Now was intended to be the Netflix of gaming. Users would play PS3, PS Vita, PSone, PSP, and PS2 games onto their PS4 through GaiKai (a cloud-based streaming gaming service purchased by Sony in 2012 for $380 million). Although PlayStation Now is still in beta, its current status raises many red flags that may jeopardize the future of this once brilliant idea.
I am sure that all of you have heard of Netflix, and some of you may even use it (myself included). In case you haven’t heard, Netflix is a service where you can watch an unlimited amount of movies and T.V. shows for a mere monthly cost of $8. Now imagine this: You go onto Netflix with the hopes to watch House and the monthly cost is removed. Instead, you notice that every episode of House has several price options that allow you to rent the episode for 4 hours, 7 days, 30 days, and 90 days. As a result of this change, you end up paying much more money for the same service than if a monthly cost were implemented for unlimited use.
This is essentially PlayStation Now in a nutshell.
Now of course, having options to rent previous PlayStation games isn’t a terrible idea. If executed well, this system can become quite lucrative for Sony while still having a positive public opinion. Unfortunately, this is not the case. Judging from the beta, the prices for the various rental options range from reasonable to just downright hysterical.
Analyzing the picture above, the prices for PlayStation Now are severely inflated. Most of the time, the same game offered from PS Now can be purchased from retailers such as Amazon or Game Stop for a slightly higher price, if not the same or even cheaper. Would you rather spend $4.99 to rent a game for a week or pay a couple more dollars to own the game forever?
One aspect that I found peculiar was the 4 hour rental option. Who would pay $2.99 to rent a game for 4 hours, when adding an extra dollar could mean renting a game for a week? This rental option is not only expensive for the time:price ratio, it’s also ludicrous and impractical. The vast majority of video games cannot be finished in a day for the average gamer, let alone 4 hours. This 4 hour option would be best suited for movies and T.V. shows, as most people would watch the content and never touch it again. Video games are different. People play at their own pace and games provide a myriad of hours worth of game play, allowing more replay value than movies or T.V. shows. As a result, a 4 hour rental would streamline the user experience and adulterate the consumer’s enjoyment.
Combined with the lackluster title of games and mandatory stable internet connection, PlayStation Now seems to be heading in the wrong direction. Fortunately, this service is still unreleased and open to change.
My advice to Sony would be to:
- Offer a monthly cost to access an unlimited amount of PlayStation games. This formula is the reason why streaming services such as the aforementioned Netflix and Spotify are popular; they provide the best bang-for-your-buck.
- Allow PlayStation Now to be available on multiple systems, such as the PlayStation Vita. As of right now, the service is restricted to only the PS4.
- Offer a wider variety of games. People don’t want to spend their money on a game that has negative reviews. Nick Pino of TechRadar stated, “I counted nearly 85 games during the private beta in the All Games tab, with 15 to 20 of them being stand out or must-play games.”
PlayStation Now has the potential to be truly revolutionary. It allows those who migrated from the XBox into the PlayStation ecosystem to play games that they didn’t have the opportunity to play before. Considering the wide variety of gamers who own PS4s (PC gamers, Xbox gamers, etc.) PlayStation Now could be used by millions of people if Sony handles it correctly. After all, it’s now or never for PlayStation Now.