PlayStation Now Subscriptions Available

I have been following the development of PlayStation Now for several months now, so I'm not sure how this escaped me, but last week Sony took PS Now out of beta and began offering subscriptions to their streaming service.

Even when it was still in beta, PlayStation Now was a stable service and worth using for anyone whose Internet connection is up to the task. But the technical aspects of the service were never in question for most gamers; it was the pricing that left something to be desired. In particular, most gamers questioned why it was more expensive to rent a game for 30 or 90 days than to buy the game outright.  As I explained in the previous post, it's because with PS Now you're not paying for the game; you're paying for the bandwidth to stream it.

But with the subscription service, Sony hopes to ameliorate some of these pricing concerns.  Their subscription costs $20 per month or $45 for three months. Currently, this gives access to a bit more than 100 games, which is a subset of the 200 or so games currently available for individual rental. That means, of course, that there will still be some games that can only be streamed by renting them at Sony's exorbitant rates.

To be fair, the list of available games already includes classics like BioShock Infinite and Batman: Arkham City as well as PlayStation exclusives like The Last of Us and Uncharted: Drake's Fortune. And the list is bound to improve as Sony promises to add new games each month with removals from the list being possible but rare.

I can't help to compare Sony's PS Now offering the OnLive's PlayPack subscription service, which currently gives you access to a library of more than 250 PC games for $10 per month. OnLive's service is more mature and has more games, but those aren't exclusive titles that are available only on one platform.  The exclusive games undoubtedly add a premium to what Sony charges.  (Though, frankly, Sony charges a premium for almost everything they sell.)

OnLive also has a CloudLift streaming service which allows you to stream games from your Steam library for $8 per month, or for $13 total if bundled with the aforementioned PlayPack service. Unfortunately, Sony doesn't yet have any equivalent of the CloudLift service that will allow you to stream games that you already have in your digital library. That would be tremendously convenient for playing games that you don't have enough free storage to install. It would also allow gamers to play a game immediately rather than waiting hours for a download to complete.

Currently, the PS Now subscription stands alone from the PlayStation Plus subscription, and one offers no benefits to the other. It will be interesting to see if gamers take to Sony's new offering or if they still believe the price is too high. We should know which happens based on the moves that Sony makes with PlayStation Now later in the year.

Check out HardcoreGamer's comparison of locally-played PlayStation 3 and streaming PlayStation Now games.