The Ninjabot

The Problem with PlayStation Now

Posted on June 25, 2014 at 10:00 am by Stephen Janes

When Sony announced the PlayStation 4 last year, they announced the unification of all games with their cloud streaming service PlayStation Now. Many gamers were excited at the idea that, potentially, one console would be able to play a nearly unlimited number of games for a “reasonable” price. The “reasonable” price is what’s really in question.

Early reports suggested that PlayStation Now would be a hybrid service that would allow consumers to subscribe to a Netflix-like plan or pay as you play options would be available. It’s becoming more and more clear that you will be forced to pay a fairly hefty sum in order to rent games for a limited time.

To put this all into perspective, Game Informer put together a chart that helps break down how much you could potentially pay for a game on the PlayStation Now service versus buying it on the PlayStation Network. There are two games that I put in bold face for emphasis.

Title 4 Hours 7 Days 30 Days 90 Days Retail* PSN
Adventure Time: Explore the Dungeon Because I Don’t Know $5 $8 $15 $30 $25 $40
Alpha Protocol $3 $6 $8 $15 $5 NA
Deus Ex: Human Revolution $5 $7 $15 $30 $7 $20
Final Fantasy XIII $3 $6 $8 $15 $14 $13
Final Fantasy XIII-2 $5 $8 $15 $30 $15 $20
Guacamelee $3 $5 $8 $15 NA $15
Saints Row: The Third $5 NA NA $30 $21 $30
Stick it to the Man $3 $4 $7 $10 NA $10

*Surveyed from a Amazon and GameStop (note: GameStop is Game Informer’s parent company).

As Game Informer put perfectly clear here, Saints Row: The Third and Deus Ex: Human Revolution have some interesting price breakdowns. Sure, you can rent either game for ninety days which would be more than enough time for either of them, but then again you can buy the full version and keep them forever for the same price or cheaper. I don’t know if Sony has a structure or formula to calculate these prices but it clearly needs to be revised based on what you see here. Even more confusing is how Saints Row: The Third is only available to rent for four hours or ninety days. Why no in-between is beyond me.

I was originally excited by the idea of PlayStation Now when it was announced and talked about. Now, with this trend in pricing it is becoming a major disappointment and the feedback Sony is receiving supports that ideal. I understand that Sony needs to find a way to make money with this model and make it attractive for developers but this just seems odd.

I think most consumers can live paying three to five dollars for a few hours of play time, but when the rental period gets into the day range is when things get testy. I personally would have preferred a monthly subscription with a set daily price. Say ten hours of streaming a month cost ten dollars, but you could divide those ten hours among as many games as you wanted. You would then be able to upgrade your monthly hour allocation depending on how much you wanted, similar to the early days of Netflix when they only delivered DVDs. In addition, twenty-four hours of one game would set you back about five bucks if you just wanted to rent games as you go and not be tied down. I also would have thrown in deals and discounts for PlayStation Plus members every now and then.

Some might say you can’t harsh too hard on a product that isn’t completely released just yet, but this small sample is the complete opposite of what was expected. The increase in pricing is understandable but to charge more money for a rental than to actually own the game is fairly preposterous. What do you think about the current PlayStation Now pricing? Does it make sense? Have a better idea on how it should be structured? Sound off in the comments below.

PlayStation Now is currently in a private beta on both the PlayStation 4 and PlayStation 3 and is expected to be officially released sometime this summer.

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