Playstation Now – Well Executed Idea or a Waste of Money?

If you have been on the Playstation store recently, you’ve probably noticed something called “Playstation Now.” Upon clicking on it, you would have seen a number of PS3 games listed with a price to rent.  These games are part of Sony’s streaming service that allows you to rent games for a price and play them for a specified time frame. The service was talked about a lot when the PS4 was announced, but it wasn’t clear at the time how the service would be used.  There was talk about people being able to authenticate their previous purchased games for streaming play but it looks like that idea never really came to fruition.  Instead, you were given one option, pay a price (and a hefty one at that for the time allotment) to be able to access a game for a period of time depending on what you paid.  Some rental times ranged from a few hours to a couple weeks.  Well, now Sony has announced a new plan for accessing their streaming content – a subscription.  The subscription to the service is $19.99 for a month of unlimited usage or $44.99 for 3 months.  Before you pony up the money to pay for this streaming service subscription, there are a few things you need to know and we here at The Dadcade are more than happy to help you make your decision.

If you aren’t familiar with what a streaming service is, it’s basically playing a game remotely.  Sony has a server somewhere that is running the game and you are using your controller to control the game remotely while they pump the video output to your television.  Because of this, there are certain things to keep in mind.  For starters, you have to be online.  No internet connection, no gameplay.  It’s impossible to play offline because the game isn’t being played anywhere near you.  You are only seeing video of your gameplay.  Because the game is being played remotely, something else comes into play – input lag.  Input lag is the time the character or object on screen you are controlling takes to move after you press the button on your controller.  When you play a game locally, there is little to no input lag unless you are playing a game online where lag comes into play.  With Playstation Now, everything is online.  For most games you’ll play, you probably won’t notice much of a difference.  Playing a game like Mass Effect or inFamous will most likely hide any input lag behind the gameplay.  But, if you’re a fighting game fan, it might become a little more obvious.  Games that require twitch controls like fighting games might be problematic as the input lag could pop up and cause some issues.  If you don’t really play that many twitch control games, you should be perfectly fine as long as you have a decent internet connection.

The other point of contention I have with this service is the price to game ratio.  $19.99 a month is a steep price to pay for a service that is providing only a sample of all last gen games for the PS3.  With that said, the sample is a good one, you’ll find some solid games on this list, but a lot of big games are missing.  Want to play Skyrim?  No dice.  Fallout 3?  Sorry.  Mass Effect is there as are some other big name games, but the fact remains that this list isn’t complete.  I’m sure Sony will continue to add to the list in the future, but for the time being, you’re only getting a sample of games yet paying a premium price to access them.  I think the price is about $5-$10 too much to be honest.  We’ll see if people take to the subscription method, because the prices of the individual rents were outrageous.  No one is going to pay $20 to rent a single last gen game they can buy new for under $20 from almost any game retailer.  There were numerous examples of this on the store and it just showed a complete lack of understanding of game rental pricing.

While the service was in beta, I did try out a game and it played surprisingly well.  Dead Island:Riptide was the game I played and it played just like I would imagine it would off a disc locally.  I’m sure there was some input lag but it wasn’t noticeable to the casual observer.  There weren’t any stutters in the gameplay and everything was pretty smooth (except for the quality of the game, but that’s not Sony’s fault.)  If you want to jump on board now and enjoy some last gen games, $20 is a steep price but the service is a good one.  You’ll be able to enjoy a nice, albeit incomplete, collection of last gen games streamed directly to your PS4 or Vita system (Vita may still be in beta.)  If you aren’t too thrilled about the price like I am, hold off on subscribing to see if they either drop the price or add enough games to warrant the subscription.  I have a feeling the $20 price tag may come down in the future, but we’ll have to see how people take to the service before that happens. I am pulling for the service because I think streaming games could be an excellent way to enjoy older games without having to fill up a hard drive or own a powerful PC. I think we’re still early though and we really need to see how companies utilize streaming services before we know if it’s here to stay.

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