The side of Sony’s PlayStation Now service that we’ve been familiar with so far – a la carte game rentals – has basically been a disaster. Unsurprisingly, value-conscious gamers haven’t been chomping at the bit to pay $5 to rent old games for four hours at a time. The pricing scheme is absurd, almost to the point where it’s insulting, and so far PlayStation Now has been considered a laughingstock at best.
Well, no more, Sony has decreed! The company has announced a subscription-based pricing model for PlayStation Now. Starting at $20 for a month of service, you’ll get access to a streaming library of over 100 games. No more four-hour rentals here, no sir. The representative I spoke to at International CES decided not to comment on whether or not rental pricing would change. At this point I wouldn’t be surprised if Sony would like that whole debacle to be swept under the rug.
Consider it swept, then, and let’s talk about how PlayStation Now plays. I had a chance to try Ultra Street Fighter IV over the service at CES and it felt pretty damn good. This doesn’t say much, of course; PlayStation Now is Sony’s baby at the moment and it wouldn’t surprise me if the demo machine had a nice big chunk of high-end bandwidth dedicated to it especially for the show. Still, for what it’s worth, I can’t complain about the experience I had with the service. BioShock Infinite was running on a nearby machine and looked equally nice.
As for the home experience, the representative I spoke to said that a 5 gigabit connection would be required for the ideal experience and that if connection speed was causing a problem, the service would alert users that this was the source of the issue. As mentioned, the system will initially launch with over 100 games and more will be added on a regular basis. As of this writing, this is the only means by which the PlayStation 4 can achieve backward compatibility for PlayStation 3 games, so if for some reason you’ve sold your old console and want some of that sweet, sweet nostalgia, this just might be the most economical way to go.
This new pricing model certainly does a lot to make PlayStation Now a more reasonable offering; it also seems a lot less insulting than $5 to “rent” a digital game for four hours. Still, until it shows up in the field and we see how the service reacts when faced households fighting over limited bandwidth, it’s best not to sell your PS3 just yet. Keep an eye out for a weeklong free trial when the service is introduced on January 13.