Earlier this week, Sony PlayStation announced a major change coming to their PlayStation Now service. Starting January 13, PlayStation Now users can start streaming 100+ games via a subscription plan. For $19.99 a month or $44.99 for 3-months, PSNow users on their PS4’s will be able to stream hundreds of PS3 games as many times as they would like. This subscription plan will be available first to PlayStation 4 users with the eventual rollout to other platforms.
For those not in the know, PlayStation Now is the Netflix-like PS3 game streaming service that is available on PS4, PS3, PS Vita, select Sony branded TVs and, just recently announced, select upcoming Samsung televisions. When the beta launched last year, gamers could choose to rent and stream selected PS3 games for a set amount of time for a small rental fee. The problem was that the pricing made little sense. Games ranged from $4.99 for a 4 hr. period, all the way up to $39.99 for 90-days. At that type of pricing, you were better off just buying the game used! And while, during the beta period, pricing did become more realistic, most people held out until word of a subscription plan came through.
Still, at $19.99/month, many folks feel that the price is still too high. And yet, looking at the game rental landscape, there really isn’t anything like PlayStation Now. GameFly and RedBox are both physical-disc rental services. Neither offer the opportunity to stream games from the comforts of home. Also, you are limited by the amount of physical discs you rent so you either have to wait until GameFly sends you your next game or you travel out to a RedBox kiosk. The closest service that is comparable to PSNow is OnLive ($14.99/month) but even they don’t offer a large selection of games to choose from.
I’ve been on PlayStation Now since it was in its private closed beta form. On top of the price, I know many of you are worried about how the games play. Let’s face it, if you’re streaming, issues like latency are really important especially on certain game types like fighting games that require split-second timing. In the time that I’ve used the service, however, I have not experience any significant lag in gameplay, and I have my PS4 set up to my network wirelessly. The only issue I’ve had was that the games weren’t as sharp as I remember on the PS3. This isn’t that surprising considering we’re talking about streaming a full, complex game over the internet. A drop in resolution is a small price to pay for instant streaming of games.
Should you pay the $19.99/month? If all you have is a PlayStation 4 and you really want to play some of the games you missed in the previous generation, then go ahead. You’ll find many gems to play. And since it’s unlimited, you can try as many games as you’d like. If you still own a PS3, then you’d probably be better off just buying the physical disc or downloading the full copy instead. Make the jump once Sony starts offering PSOne and PS2 games. Another option is to just do the individual game rentals which will still be available.
If you want to try out the service for yourself, there will be a free 7-day trial membership available when the service launches on January 13.
Images: Sony Computer Entertainment