PlayStation Now has finally revealed its true form. Much like everyone was hoping for, Sony has announced that its game streaming service will be subscription based, allowing PS4 players to play more than 100 different games for $20 per month. The service will be extended across smartphones, tablets and Smart TVs in the Sony range within the coming months but the announcement is significant enough already.
Reactions to this news have been mixed at best. While many agree that it’s better than renting a game for a handful of hours or days while paying arguably close to the original retail price, some still believe the subscription price to be much higher than they were hoping for. $20 per month over the course of a year comes to $240 (or almost $180 per year if you go for the 3 month plan). At that point, when do you stop streaming games and just decide it would be better to buy a used console and games for the same price?
"We’d also point out that PSN going down is also a significant problem but Sony has thankfully reimbursed consumers with free PS Plus time and offers following the last major server outage."
The other concerns surrounding PS Now are hard to ignore. Just because you have more than 100 games to choose from doesn’t mean you’ll be playing them all. Even if you do have time to fit in half as many games into your monthly schedule, there’s also the issue of bandwidth. PS Now faced several issues when it was in the beta stage and while there shouldn’t be streaming issues as such when it finally gets rolling on PS4, that’s still a ton of bandwidth that consumers will need to part with.
We’d also point out that PSN going down is also a significant problem but Sony has thankfully reimbursed consumers with free PS Plus time and offers following the last major server outage. That being said, you can still count on people having issues with the same if PSN decides it’s not going to cooperate somewhere in the middle.
In terms of bandwidth and connectivity, you can’t even say it’s the same case with Steam, because you can actually download the games and play them offline (depending on their requirements). PS Now will arguably be the first major commercial game streaming service for consoles. Sony is pretty much in uncharted waters but it does have a plan of sorts.
"The mark of a successful subscription-based digital experience isn’t always its price, though that plays a significant part. It’s about providing a valuable service, one that a consumer doesn’t think twice about renewing each month."
Make no mistake – this is Sony’s solution for backwards compatibility of its old PS3 games. Will it still offer the PS3 for consumers who don’t want to take the digital option? Perhaps the console will be phased out over the coming years depending on the success of PS Now. Regardless, it does present a viable option for Sony to save money on manufacturing PS3 consoles while still garnering significant revenue from interested players.
The mark of a successful subscription-based digital experience isn’t always its price, though that plays a significant part. It’s about providing a valuable service, one that a consumer doesn’t think twice about renewing each month. Netflix is the classic example. You may not watch movies and TV shows every day but you can’t imagine life without it. How else will you binge watch House of Cards Season 3? You’re not going to queue it up anywhere else and waste your time.
Likewise, why would you subscribe to the WWE Network, World Wrestling Entertainment’s 24/7 wrestling network, if you don’t feel like you need it? Missing content, lacklustre pay per view events, very few exclusive shows – this is an example of only hardcore fans really enjoying a digital service. It’s good for nostalgia purposes, for sure. But will that be enough for Sony’s PlayStation Now?
"Maybe PS Now will find a base appeal for someone who doesn’t want to shell out money each month for new PS3 games. Maybe someone really doesn’t want to spend more than $20 per month on a new PS3 game."
The company has already proven that even if the majority of its user base isn’t hardcore that it can sell tens of millions of PS4 consoles. PlayStation Plus subscriptions have also crossed the 10 million mark and that’s arguably because most people just want multiplayer.
Maybe PS Now will find a base appeal for someone who doesn’t want to shell out money each month for new PS3 games. Maybe someone really doesn’t want to spend more than $20 per month on a new PS3 game. Heck, maybe they want to try out a new game before they decide whether they like it. If you play Batman: Arkham City, The Last of Us, only having to spend $20 to experience them all, haven’t you gotten your money’s worth?
It’s all very subjective and there are plenty of unavoidable issues that Sony needs to work out before PS Now could be called an out-and-out success. There’s plenty of value to be had here depending on one’s requirements. It’s just up to Sony about how well it can market it as such.