When Sony initially announced its PlayStation Now service earlier this year, gamers were elated. After all, it's not every day that you get the opportunity to cloud stream earlier game experiences onto a shiny new PlayStation 4. Plus, God of War: Ascension looked really good on it, with barely any skips in performance.
Then came the private beta for it, which launched a little while back, and, well, the results haven't exactly been mesmerizing. For some, the service barely connected at all; for others, the offering of a lackluster game library (are we really going to play Ben 10's greatest hits?) and sky-high rental prices doused any remaining excitement for the service.
Now, with PlayStation Now going into public beta today, users will be able to test the experience for themselves. However, before Sony sets it live with an official release, there are a few things it'll need to do to assure it's a success. Otherwise, we could be looking at a similar blunder to what happened with OnLIve. Yes, we're serious.
Lower the pricing (significantly)
First off, let's discuss pricing. Right now, Crazy Taxi, a game that came out several years ago as a PS3/360 downloadable title, came out at around $10. Reasonable? Absolutely. But not on the PlayStation Now service.
That's because the rental rates for the game are abysmal. To check it out for a seven-day period, you'll need to fork over $5. To check it out for over 30 days, you'll need to pay…$22.99? So, practically more than twice what the initial game was worth.
With the public beta, Sony needs to do some serious house cleaning. For instance, a seven day rental rate of $1.99 and a 30 day rental rate of $4.99 is MUCH more fathomable, especially if you want players to come back to that game experience. The more people you scare off with high prices, the less that are likely to be repeat shoppers with it.
Here's hoping Sony's lived and learned with the beta, because otherwise, you're going to have a lot of folks refusing to pay $30 to rent something like…Red Faction: Armageddon? You're joking, yes?
Perk up the game library
PlayStation Now has some decent titles, like the aforementioned games above, but it also has a bunch of lacking ones, including MX Vs. ATV Reflex and, again, the dreaded Ben 10 library. Also, is there really a need to re-release Guacamelee! for the service when a better version is available for download? Me thinks not.
Sony needs to find a way to boost its game library, and pronto. Don't be afraid to throw some quality games in there, such as Sly Cooper: Thieves In Time (a truly deserving classic that needs an audience on PS4), and the Uncharted trilogy. Stuff that matters.
For good measure, the PlayStation Now service would be excellent when it comes to classic compilations. Jak and Daxter, Ratchet & Clank, Ico/Shadow of the Colossus and others would be PERFECT for this package, letting players check out what they missed and maybe even prompting them to pursue a PS3 purchase. Sony wins both ways.
It should give this some thought. Because not everyone is going to want to download Space Channel 5 Part 2 over and over…
Fill the library with PS1 and PS2 games
Remember when Sony initially announced that PlayStation 1 and 2 games would be part of the PlayStation Now library? Hey, great. So where are they? Throughout the beta, we've only experienced games that were released for PlayStation 3, and when it comes to older hits, they're left out in the cold.
Sony needs to keep its word and release games from both of those platforms. After all, there's a huge classic audience out there that would truly appreciate them. Even long-lost gems like Klonoa 2 and Twisted Metal Black would be right at home on the system.
Offer a subscription plan
Sony said that it's working on some form of subscription plan for the PlayStation Now service, where gamers can download an unlimited amount of titles at their free will. However, what it really needs to do is incorporate said plan into PlayStation Plus, incorporating power players with some form of premium discount (or, hey, maybe even a free perk) so that they can enjoy it more thoroughly.
After all, EA Access plans to be a program that works on a membership basis, and for a pretty good value. So, surely, Sony can do the same.