PlayStation Now: Right Direction, Wrong Turn
There’s no question in my mind that Sony is currently ahead in this generation’s console wars. Whether it ends up “winning” is still far to early to say, but I think most people agree that Sony is doing very well for itself. One of Sony’s biggest strengths is its Playstation Plus program. Most people are pretty familiar with the program at this point. Essentially it gives you discounts in the Playstation Store, Cloud saving, access to online multiplayer, and most importantly (I feel), two free games a month. These two free games in question aren’t just fluff either, they tend to be highly popular successful AAA titles. Here’s a short list of free games given away in the past Batman: Arkham City, Borderlands 2, and Crysis 3 among many MANY others. This makes Playstation Plus a tremendous value since you literally get to keep and play these videos game as long as your membership remains active.
Why am I telling you things you already know? Recently, Sony has brought forward a new service called Playstation Now. This lets you play older PS3 games via streaming (remember when Sony bought Gaikai? No? Well they are finally putting their 380 million dollar investment to use!) that you might’ve missed on your PS4. There’s only one problem, Sony’s pricing is ridiculously expensive! Let me give you a typical example, Guacamelee, an excellent platforming game cost $14.99 to rent for 90 days but, for the EXACT same price, you can simply buy it outright. Meanwhile, if you simply want to try it out and see if you like it, 4 HOURS will cost you $3.99 or 1/5th the price. For just 3 more dollars at $5.99 you can have the game for 7 DAYS. In what world do that make sense? Another example is Dead Space 3. Not only would you have received the game for free if you had been part of Playstation Plus but a 90 day rental also costs $14.99 when the full price in the playstation store is $19.99. Overall the pricing seems arbitrary and counter-intuitive. It makes no sense to use the service when you can easily purchase used copies of these same games for less from Ebay or even Gamestop. If the prices were lower, I could see people renting the games as an impulse buy, but since they’re not, I don’t see who – if anyone – is renting these games. Obviously, I’m not the one person to point out the problems with the pricing, scores of people complained and asked for an all you can play subscription service.
Well…. Sony delivered but unfortunately, their efforts fall a little short. Now I need to give credit where credit is due. After looking at the regular pricing to rent games through PS Now, I quickly realized I would never use the service. The subscription plan that Sony revealed however, actually caused me to stop and considering getting it. After doing some basic calculations though, I realized it’s not worth it to me, but there is a chance, albeit somewhat slim, that it might be a good fit for you. Let me explain: 1 month of the subscription streaming service is $20 while buying 3 months outright is 44.99 or $15 per month. This puts it roughly on par with a service like Gamefly which is 15.95 a month for one game. Keep in mind though that Gamefly gives you access to games from ALL systems, not just Playstation titles. But let’s assume you only have one system, what questions do you need to ask when considering whether the subscription is a good fit for you:
Do I currently have a backlog of games to play?
Thanks to the very generous steam sales, I have plenty of games to play, there’s literally more than 20 games already sitting in my library that I haven’t touched at all. If you’re currently working through several games, this subscription is a bad idea.
How much free time do you have for gaming?
If on average you only game a few hours a week at most, you’re better off using your precious hours to focus on one or two games, you’re better off simply outright buying a game and enjoying it fully. It also depends on what kind of games you prefer to play. Something like Dragon Age Inquisition or Skyrim can easily keep you busy for 60+ hours, whereas a smaller game like Gucamelee can probably be beaten in 7 hours or 12/13 hours if you are a completionist. Also keep in mind that a PlayStation Plus membership is just $50 dollars for a YEAR. That’s way cheaper than Playstation Now and a guaranteed 2 free games a month per year (more if you have multiple Sony Systems i.e. the vita or ps3). Look at the past history of released games, the quality of the games is by and large excellent, you will get at least one game a month that you will want to play which leads me to my next question…
Have you played these games before?
Look at the list of games available for the subscription service (you can find it here). You’ll notice that most, although not all of the games, are two years old at this point. If you’re someone who games constantly, there’s a good chance you’ve already bought or played many of these titles.
What kind of internet connection do you have?
Remember that Playstation Now is a streaming service – you’re NOT downloading these games. Therefore, if you don’t have a good reliable connection to the internet, you won’t be having a good time. While Sony’s official documentation states that you need at least a 5mpbs connection, as usual, faster is better. You’ll also need a direct ethernet line going into your ps4, Wi-Fi won’t suffice. Depending on your local provider, some have monthly bandwidth limits and I can assure you that streaming a video game will use up quite a bit of bandwidth very quickly.
So to sum up, if you have a good internet connection, lots of free time, not that much money to spend on new video games, AND you haven’t already played a good chunk of the games on the list, then you should take a look at Playstation Now. You might really enjoy it! For the rest of us who are employed and no longer in college, (you know I’m being facetious, right?) I’m relatively certain your precious free time can be better spent elsewhere.