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.
Robert Workman posted a new article, What Sony needs to do with PlayStation Now to make it succeed.
We've played the Beta for some time, but here's some advice on what it needs to make it soar.
Back when I was a kid, you couldn't rent a Nintendo or Super Nintendo game from the local video store for 7 days for only 5 bucks. So this price doesn't seem outrageous to me.
You are right, I wouldn't think the prices were high either if the games were new or hard to find. Most of the games on there have already been offered as either PS+ for free, in the $1 Flash Sales, or the price to rent it is equal or lesser to the price to buy it in full-form forever. All of that is before considering that most of the games on there that exist in disc form can be purchased for under $10 in a local game store. Hopefully they will take most or all of the advice from the article.
Right but that was at a time when there wasn't internet. Or it was not very powerful. And most people who rented the NES or SNES didn't already have a game system. I'm willing to be more people who have a PS4 also have a 3, than those who do not. Prices are nuts. Give me a subscription.
For a new game, yes. For a years-old game that can be found second-hand or on PSN for double that rental price? No, not worth it. As the article said, Crazy Taxi was a $10 PSN title when it was new to PSN, and that price is pretty representative of a lot of these titles. $5 to rent it is insane.
Yeah it was a bit rich Sony being critical of EAs plans "value" when they don't seem to have it nailed either.
I'm not 100% sure about the rental model like this but it could work out with allowing people to try games for a week or so and then getting a discounted purchase of it if decide to buy it.
Otherwise I think should just go a full subscription model.
But I suppose at least companies like Sony and EA are trying it. I would love if MS were able to come up with a similar model to what they originally planned for the XB1.
I agree. As much as I dislike EA, their service sounded like a hell of a value compared to what Sony's offering. The rental prices are too high for games which are that old, especially when in some cases you can just buy them outright used on the previous system (or even new on PSN) for cheaper.
Don't get me wrong, $6 for a one-week rental isn't completely unreasonable... for a new game. That's about what I paid back in the day when Blockbuster and certain other video rental companies still existed. But again, these aren't new games. We're not going to play new game prices for them.
To follow up on my comment yesterday, I did try the service last night and I have to admit I was pretty disappointed, even aside from pricing. I was using wireless at first (ps4 was receiving 20mbps) and the game was basically unplayable due to framerate slowdown, audio issues, laggy controls. I switched the ps4 to a wired connection (now it was receiving 40mbps) and the issues were cut in half, but didn't disappear. I realize my connection isn't the fastest, but it is undoubtedly much faster than most people who will try to use this service and it was advertised to work with "10mbps" or better. If it can't run smoothly at 4x that bandwidth, this won't be an option for most ps users without drastic network improvements.
This whole article could have been summed up with this one sentence,"Add more games and lower the prices".It really is just that simple.
I'm looking right now at Darksiders 2.The pricing is ridiculous.4 hours for $4.99?!
I think it would have been easier for them to sell it if it were $4.99 for a day,and say $5.99 for 3 days,and $6.99 for 5 days.It just seems more simple than the price points that they have now.