Back into 2006, when the PlayStation 3 came out to the price of $500-$600, I was deeply saddened. I loved my experience with the PlayStation 2, and being that I was in my early years of college, I knew it was highly unlikely and that I would have the funds to purchase such a console for several years. As the years went by, and exclusive titles like Metal Gear Solid 4, the Uncharted series, Journey, and many others came out, I grew even more frustrated. As time went on, I resolved that if I ever got to play these titles it would be because Sony’s next console would allow for backwards compatibility. Naturally, I was skeptical that that scenario would play out.
Flash forward to 2012 when the news broke that Sony had purchased Gakai, a cloud-based gaming company, for $380 million. It didn’t take long for the rumors begin with analysts saying that this could open the door for PlayStation 3 games to be streamed to different devices. I had no clue how that would work, but it was an intriguing concept. In addition, I knew that whatever console Sony introduced next, I would be buying it. Later we learned that PS Now would make it’s way not only to PS3 and PS4, but to the PS Vita, Tablets, and 2014 Sony Bravia tvs.
With my trusty new PS4 in hand, I was given access to the closed beta for PlayStation Now, earlier this year. Now I won’t criticize my first glimpses at PS Now, mainly because it was a closed beta. I didn’t expect anything to work smoothly. But I was pleasantly surprised. The library of games wasn’t vast at the time and none of the games were titles that I was personally interested in, but the experience itself was, for the most part, smooth and full of great potential. And heck, the games were free to stream, so I wasn’t complaining. If anything, I was left the closed beta, excited for what improvements Sony and Gakai would bring to an already great experience.
Sony has now opened the beta to whoever has a PS4. This open beta has an increased library of titles to choose from and, controversially, a new pricing system. The rental period, which at this point has 4 different increments, ranges from $2.99 for 4 hours to $22.99 for 90 days. However, I noticed that Final Fantasy XIII can be rented for 90 days at $14.99. At this point, I’m not sure what increases or decreases the price for certain games. Once you purchase a rental period, it doesn’t begin until you actually play the game. Clearly, the prices are the biggest threat to the success of PS Now. At least for people like myself, who never owned a PS3, it’s conceivably that it would make sense. There’s an enhanced value for us. We’ve missed out on these great games and need to catch up. But for a PS3 owner, why would they rent FFXIII for $15 when they could buy it for $15? Once again, this is a beta, meaning nothing here is final, but PS Now’s pricing structure needs to change.
If you’re wondering what game I rented, then I’ll tell you it was Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots. So far, it has been a pleasant experience playing the game. I was worried about there being moments of annoying latency and lag, but those moments have been rare. I have a internet speed of 13mbps, which helps. I recognize that it isn’t the best of speeds, but it was certainly more than enough to have a great experience. It’s important to recognize, however, that in other parts of the US, not everyone can get the necessary speed, which at this moment, is 5mbps. So if you live in an area that gets poor internet speeds, or you experience a lot issues with your internet, then PS Now, in its current form, doesn’t look like a promising option for you and others in your shoes.
So, at the end of the day, I find myself torn between two perspectives. On the one hand, I had a great personal experience with Sony’s answer to backwards compatibility. On the other, I can’t help but feel skeptical that others will have a similar experience. I greatly want this to work out. For if it does, then we could be glimpsing a revolution in how we revisit and experience games from our past. I would like to see the pricing system change, possibly to a monthly fee, like Netflix. But this is an expensive investment for Sony, and seeing as they can seemingly do no wrong, at this point, I have to give then the benefit of the doubt. What do you think about PS Now? What has you concerned, and what would you like to see from this service? Leave your comments and let’s discuss it!