And why isn’t PlayStation doing anything about that?
For the past year, the gaming world has been abuzz over Xbox’s Netflix-like service, Xbox Game Pass. I’m sure I don’t need to tell you about it or that it’s perhaps the best deal in gaming. It’s something to talk about for sure. But what about PlayStation’s somewhat similar offering — PlayStation Now, or lovingly called PSNOW. Before Xbox Game Pass was a twinkle in Microsoft’s eye, PS Now was Sony’s attempt to use the power of the cloud to leverage games to PlayStation and PC owners. Interestingly enough, you don’t hear anything about the service, and lately, I’ve been wondering what the heck is PlayStation doing about that.
What is PlayStation Now?
Maybe we should start with what PlayStation Now was. Originally, the service was under a different name (Gaikai) that Sony acquired, and then it was transformed into PlayStation Now. The idea was to provide a vast collection of older PlayStation games to PlayStation 3 and PlayStation 4 owners. This was updated to allow for PlayStation 5 and PC gamers to take advantage of the service. When the service first started, the only way you could utilize PlayStation Now was by streaming games over the internet. A noble idea, yet this was around the time that broadband wasn’t as commonplace as it is now, and that idea wasn’t exactly the best.
Given the type of game you wanted to play, your experience varied. Shooters, racing games, and fighting games were among those that suffered the most — it just didn’t work as Sony intended. Unable to get around the issues caused by the internet, the service was seen as a joke by many. Things didn’t get better when Xbox Game Pass arrived on the scene, either. A service that did what PlayStation Now did, but instead of forcing gamers to stream the games they wanted to play, they could download to their consoles. What a fantastic idea! And despite PlayStation’s massive grip on the gaming world, slowly but surely, Xbox Game Pass started carving away at the gaming giant.
Why aren’t people talking about PS NOW?
That’s actually an excellent question and one I don’t have an answer to. Even with the ups and downs of the service, when PlayStation finally gave the option to stream and download games, the value was increased — at least in my opinion, it did. I don’t know a single person who streams games on PS Now, but they sure do download the games.
Over the last few years, PlayStation has definitely made improvements. The download ability was already mentioned, but they also dropped the price. What was once a hefty price to swallow at $19.99 was halved to just $9.99. For just ten dollars, you get access to over 800 PlayStation games. That sounds like a great deal to me.
As to why people aren’t talking about PS Now, I place that blame solely on PlayStation. How can anyone talk about something that simply isn’t getting any hype? With Xbox Game Pass, Xbox mentions the service whenever it can, perhaps too much at times. Xbox constantly talks bout the service, pushing it into our faces. We’ve even seen Xbox Game Pass commercials on TV! If you own an Xbox or a PC, you know about the service thanks to the Xbox hype machine.
With PS Now, when’s the last time you’ve heard PlayStation mention the service? Or ran a commercial? Or had it plastered on the front of the PlayStation 4 or PlayStation 5 dashboard? The lack of advertisement is hurting PS Now. Like the PS Vita, which was an amazing handheld system, the service is being overshadowed by its competition due to negligence.
For those wondering, yes, there have been a few PlayStation Now ads. Sony released one when the service was first released, and a few others since then. This ad below is nearly two years old, and there hasn’t been one released since. C’mon PlayStation, the service and gamers deserve better than this.
At the very least, get the service to a place where games aren’t saying “I wish PS Now wasn’t garbage” or asking the question “Is PlayStation Now worth it?”
Where are the PlayStation 5 games?
I fail to understand that even though there are PS4 to PS5 upgrades for many games, you won’t see them if you use PS Now. If you use PS Now on a PS5, you get the PS4 versions — but why? Again, looking at Xbox Game Pass, you’ll get the optimized version for that platform if you download a game on the Xbox Series X|S. Not so much on the PS5, and again it begs to ask, why is that?
One tier for PS Now and PS Plus
I’m not going to spend a lot of time here because this only makes sense. I don’t see why PlayStation feels that gamers will want to pay for both PS Now and PS Plus. That’s a pretty penny to the sum of $120 PER service (monthly). Now, you’re likely saying to yourself, “why would I want to pay for PS Plus if I’m using PS Now.” It’s not a requirement but I’m sure you’re likely playing other PlayStation games and you’ll need PS Plus for that. As for PS Now, Sony got wise and included online multiplayer support for PS NOW games. Still, if you’re like me and you play games that aren’t included in PS Now, you’ll need both services, and that starts to add up. (Source – PlayStation Blog)
Yes, games in the PlayStation Now library support multiplayer, just like the retail versions of the game. Multiplayer invites can also be sent and received, just like normal.
In addition, you can enjoy PS4 and PS3 multiplayer games online through PS Now without a PlayStation Plus subscription. PS Plus is required for online multiplayer access for PS4 and PS3 games outside of the PS Now service.
If PlayStation were to bundle these services into one tier, it would be a better deal for the gamers. And isn’t that PlayStation’s slogan after all?
Can PlayStation Now be fixed? What needs to happen?
Honestly, PlayStation should copy Xbox’s playbook for Xbox Game Pass. Literally, everything. Bring older PlayStation games to the service, work with 3rd party companies to launch their games on PS Now at launch, offer incentives for using the service and promote the hell out of the service.
If you compare PS Now’s offering to Xbox Game Pass, both older games and existing games, you can see the vast difference. There are currently 21 PlayStation 2 games, about 438 PlayStation 3 games, and 400 PlayStation 4 games. That’s way more than what Xbox offers, but because PlayStation does such a poor job of marketing the service, no one really knows.
It’s not bad, but it could be better. As PlayStation has a rich gaming history with games that you can’t easily play anymore, this is sad. Not without shelling out the money for both an older console and tracking down the game for a reasonable price. Hell, I’d love to play all of the Ridge Racer, Battle Arena Toshiden, or even Final Fantasy Tactics. But I can’t because none of these games are on PS Now. The entire history of PlayStation, which made them what they are today, should be available.
Adding to that, Xbox has been releasing Xbox Series X|S optimized games to Xbox Game Pass. While PlayStation has yet to release a single PlayStation 5 game onto PS Now. PlayStation needs to change that, in my opinion, and release both PS4 and PS5 games via PS Now. Hell, they could go one step further and get PS5 games for PS Now on PC. Imagine that being a thing and being able to play those games on your PC? Who won’t want PS5 games on the PC — that’s a moneymaker right there.
Finally, PlayStation needs to release a new tier of PlayStation Plus that includes PS Now. Look at what Xbox is doing, bundling its services into a single-tier. Surely, PlayStation can do the same thing, but for some reason, the company hasn’t. I’d ask why, but I feel the answer is apparent; they don’t feel the need to. PlayStation has a sizeable lead over Xbox with its user base and exclusives. In that regard, I don’t think PlayStation feels any need to do anything outside of what the company is doing currently. And yet, if you ask anyone about Xbox Game Pass, they can tell you several things about it. Not so much with PS Now.
PlayStation needs to either step it up with the service and actually bring some added value to it. Or hang it up. There’s no middle ground in this cloud gaming arena, not anymore.