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Playstation Now Beta Preview

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Have you ever wondered why Sony decided not to make the PS4 back compatible? After all it was a big selling point on the previous two console generations that you were able to enjoy all your old classics. Well I think we can now assume that the reason the PS4 ditched the popular feature was nothing more than £££, $$$, €€€ or whatever currency you have depending where you’re from. Yes that is right, the only reason as far as I can see is money, the thing that makes the world go round and also the thing that Sony want to stuff their big fat pockets with. That’s not to say Playstation Now isn’t a good idea, but that it is one which has been created to help Sony plug the gaps where it leaks money from. The question is though, is the service any good and worth the price they will be supposedly charging?

Well before the Playstation Now Beta started and it was only an idea, a similar service existed on Xbox One known as EA Access. This is an exclusive deal between EA and Xbox which allows players to pay £3.99 a month for access to play a selection of popular EA titles, think of it as Netflix for games. You get to play everything from Battlefield 4, Plants vs Zombies Garden Warfare and UFC to being able to download the latest games before release to trial (essentially this will probably be their new way of beta testing games). There is also the added benefit that anyone who is a member of EA access will get an exclusive 10% off any EA digital titles that are bought through the Xbox store (which if I’m honest is over priced anyway like the Playstation store, so it essentially just makes games slightly less inflated). There are many other games than the ones I have mentioned as well, they are just a few that cover different genres and more games will be added as time goes on.

Where Playstation Now is different is that it isn’t limited to the games of one developer, instead it has a collection of some of the best AAA and Indie games that the PS3 had to offer. The main thing this means is that Playstation Now will have a bigger library to choose from and you will be more likely to find something you want to play thanks to the choices available. As it stands on the beta there are some great titles available such as Beyond: Two Souls, Grid 2, Nascar 14. Oddworld: Stranger’s Wrath, Uncharted 2 and Xcom: Enemy Within, with many more still to come. Over time as well who knows what will happen, maybe we’ll be seeing our PS1 and PS2 favourites joining the library, but for now I think hundreds of PS3 games will fill the hunger of Sony gamers just fine.

Where it is similar to EA Access is that these games are rented and therefore the player will not own the titles outright. You can select whether to rent the game for 2 days or 30 days (not sure why you’d select 2 over 30 as they cost the same) and from what I have seen of the US there will be other options available in future. The downside to renting obviously is, if you stop paying for Playstation Now then the games go too, the same way you’d lose a film collection if you cancelled Netflix or the free games that come with PS+. Despite not owning the games though the kind people at Sony will allow you to earn and keep the Playstation trophies that the titles offer, meaning Trophy Hunters will have an absolute field day.

To play these games you’ll need a good…no wait you’ll need a great internet connection, because all games are streamed over the net so you don’t go clogging up your HDD with copious amounts of unwanted data. Now I have a 30mb connection with Virgin Media and I’ve never really had issues before. Although it does me fine for everything from downloading music and movies to online gaming it obviously isn’t the best package they do, but you may require better for perfectly streaming Playstation Now. For the most part the games streamed ok, however if the connection drops in the slightest you will know about it. This may be my internet, it may be the servers the games are hosted on or it may even just be bugs in the system which Sony are trying to identify and get rid of in the beta. Whatever the reason is, it’s annoying.

There I am driving along a circuit on Nascar 14 and the signal goes; the picture becomes distorted and there is nothing I can do, then I hear a crash and the picture resumes, I managed to go from 16th to last and it wasn’t my fault because I lost control and smashed into a wall (doesn’t sound a lot until you actually realise how difficult the game is). Then I’m on Beyond: Two Souls and for those who have played before I’m at the end of the section where Jodie has to shut down the portal to the other realm where Aidan comes from. Anyone who has played this game will know there is a lot going on at this point in time and it was almost as if the game couldn’t cope streaming such a high action scene as again the image became distorted and I was unable to see properly. Luckily on this occasion I didn’t crash into any walls and managed to get to the end where normal service resumed, but it did spoil the gameplay.

Apart from the buggyness it sounds pretty good so far right? Well wait until you see the pricing figures which have been released. Now I must mention these prices were released for the US in dollars, so I’ve put the converted price down which may change:

  • One-month subscription: £12.69 ($19.99)
  • Three-month subscription: £28.57 ($44.99)

Now if you think back to how much EA Access charges which is £3.99 and then look at the price above I think we can all assume we’re being royally ripped off. Now in fairness I’d expect a higher price than EA Access as you are being given access to hundreds of games, but with the issues they’re having so far the price above is far too high, especially when most people already have to fork out for Playstation Plus. I’d happily pay between £6.99-£7.99 a month for the service which is the equivalent to Netflix and Amazon Prime Instant Video, of which I’m a subscriber to both services, but to fork out that much is just asking a little too much I think. They can argue that a new game costs £40-50 and some people would spend that a month anyway, so this is cheap when you consider the amount of games you get for the price you play, but since you’d only be renting the titles not owning them I find that point invalid really.

There is no denying that this is a great idea both for gamers and for Sony. Gamers can play a selection of great games without having to compromise huge amounts of space on their HDD, whilst Sony have developed a new viable source of income. With some work on the bugs that currently exist it will be worth getting, that is if they dropped the price as I think what is currently rumoured is too high. But the impressive part is the potential that Playstation Now has, I mean it is massive, there are millions of people who enjoy their older games and were disappointed that the PS4 wasn’t back compatible so this is the next best thing, and when the collection of PS3 titles is complete then the scope is there to introduce PS1 and PS2 titles as well. It’ll certainly be interesting to see how it all develops from the beta feedback.

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