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Has Sony Fixed PlayStation Now?

Sony was far ahead of its competitors when it released PlayStation Now in 2014.

The service was the first major foray into game streaming, but at the time it was laughably ineffective. Early reviews of the service point out its painful input lag and low bandwidth, but since then Sony has put a lot into improving the service. This has all come to a head with a half-off price cut on the service ahead of upcoming services like Google Stadia, xCloud, EA’s Project Atlas, and whatever else has yet to be revealed. In 2019, can PlayStation Now compete with these upcoming heavy hitters? It might just cut it.

The biggest gripe with any cloud gaming service is the connection. This is the entire basis upon which the service functions, and when PlayStation Now launched, theirs was far from the best. The connection affects nearly every single aspect of the service, most specifically: Quality and Latency. One meme-y image that was released explained a Redditor’s experience with PS Now.

Of course, this was, and still is, highly subjective. At launch, Sony recommended a 5 Mbps internet connection for a “good” experience, but if you have data caps this, can be a serious hassle. Based on the math, a complete (roughly 75 hour) playthrough of Skyrim on 5 Mbps will be nearly 200 GB of transferred data. Of course, this was where PS Now’s alternative main feature comes into play. If you can’t afford to stream your games, a decent amount of them can be downloaded directly onto your system. Not every game can be downloaded, but it puts the service in competition with things like Xbox Game Pass.

Speaking of library, Sony has just recently expanded the PS Now’s library, as well as enabled downloading on most PS2 and PS4 games. This is well and good, but what about downloads on PS3 titles? The PS3 and its generation are known for iconic titles like Red Dead Redemption, InFamous, Resistance 3, Twisted Metal, and more, but for some reason they chose PS2 games as the downloadable ones. Of course, this could all be changing, especially with the PS5 on the horizon.

And while a new system is on the horizon, Sony is not backing down from advertising and showing off PS Now. The price cut we previously mentioned brought the service down to $9.99 a month, $24.99 for three months, or $59.99 a year. These prices are the same as PlayStation Plus, which offers free games every month and the ability to play online multiplayer on PS4.

This connects into one of the most interesting aspects of PS Now. If you have an active PS Now subscription, free-trial or otherwise, you can stream or download any of the applicable games, and play online components if they are available without a PS+ subscription. This creates a very strange scenario: You could spend $59.99 a year on one of these services, but one of them offers over 700 different games to stream/download and play, online or offline, while one gives you access to playing online for disc and downloaded games from the store. In a value analysis, this makes PS Now seem like a no-brainer, but it has some caveats. For example, you aren’t going to get the newest titles right away. The service only just recently added games like Grand Theft Auto V, InFamous Second Son, Uncharted 4, and God of War (2018) to its library. Secondly, unless you can find every game you want as a download or you have wired gigabit networking, you have to worry about latency in your games. This can mean playing PS4 titles in 720p with input lag that could ruin your gameplay, if you’re careful.

Overall, PS Now has changed a great deal since it first launched, and this price cut makes it far more approachable than it has been ever before. PlayStation users who were enticed by Project Atlas, Google Stadia, or even xCloud now have something much more concrete to look at from their preferred manufacturer.

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  1. SmartAlecNation on November 4, 2019 at 9:41 am said

    The fact that they havent got PS3 games has made this service barely a consideration for me. That is most of the point of a service like PSNow, for them to not have made it happen by now must mean its impossible… least on PS4 hardware.

    If they get that issue sorted out and PSNow is a resource for all past generations of games once the PS5 is launched….i think the service will become a big enough interest to PS gamers that they end up with a PS+ and PSNow combination membership…….

    The whole streaming “thing” seems like misplaced excitement by some. I know its got a few neat perks but there are just too many negatives, especially in a country like the US where people are so spread out and the average household has plenty of internet speed to check email and watch Netflix. The upgrades needed to make streaming high def video games ubiquitous is still a good ways out, and with the upcoming war on ownership of digital media, i believe we are going to see a reestablishment of a permanent physical market for games and movies.

    It may not be the biggest percentage of the population but it will be big enough to keep companies producing physical versions of their products, well into the future.

    Generation X and too a lesser extent millennials will never trust giant corporations like Google or Disney or even Microsoft. The first time a gamer looses his game collection because of a phony “hate speech” penalty or even worse, some cancel culture event, an entire sector of the gaming community will latch onto physical media in perpetuity.

    Streaming services for games need to provide a lot of answers, and we havent even started asking most of the tough questions, yet.

    • Sony won’t care about physical sales in a few years. The general consensus is that in 8 years from now, PS6 will be an all digital console. Already 50% of PS4’s total software sales comes from digital and the number is rising rapidly every year. And if you want to talk about big corporations going woke, Sony is one of the biggest offenders right now, with their censorship of Japanese games, and their attempts to not associate with games that make their public image look bad.

      I do agree thought, that streaming is too much in its infancy to be the next big thing, but I do see it being a replacement for PlayStation consoles, especially for many casuals, who want to play the latest PlayStation exclusives on their little Roku streaming stick or whatever.

  2. Nope. It’s still one of those streaming services where you don’t own your games.

  3. It was laggy and macroblocking like crazy when it was first launched.

    After the announcement of Google Stadia (and an upgrade from my ISP), I thought I’d give it another look.

    Nope, still laggy and macroblocking like crazy.

  4. “The service was the first major foray into game streaming,”

    I must be old but am I the only one who remembered OnLive? Started in 2003, the thing Playstation Now is based off? Now if you’re arguing it wasn’t a “Major” foray I might give that to you, but it should totally get mentioned a bit when talking about this stuff, especially Playstion Now.

  5. Taylor Read on November 15, 2019 at 4:18 pm said

    The only thing keeping me from getting PSNow is that I want it to play Fallout 3, New Vegas, and Oblivion, but for some godforsaken reason they only have the standard editions without the dlc.

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