While attending this year’s Consumer Electronics Show, I was able to stop by the Sony booth and get a hands-on demo with PlayStation Now, Sony’s online streaming service for the PlayStation line of products. Having just announced a new subscription service at the beginning of the show, the online streaming service is beginning to become more enticing for price of admission. Before I decide to plop down $20 a month for the service, I was able to demo the service’s capabilities at the show, as well as ask some questions to Jack Buser, the Senior Director of the PlayStation now brand.
In case you aren’t aware, PlayStation Now is a service that allows PlayStation 4, PlayStation 3, and PS Vita users the ability to stream games to their console or handheld. For a small price, say $5, you can stream Super Street Fighter IV to your console without having to buy the actual game. Then, after your pre-determined allotment of time is up, you will have to pay again to play again. Think of it like a virtual Blockbuster Video, but super expensive.
Last Monday, Sony announced a subscription plan for the service. For just $19.99 a month, you can have access to a wide library of games, not just a single game. There is also a 3-month plan for $44.99, which sweetens the deal further. The games included are exclusively PS3 titles. Games offered range from quality first party titles such as Uncharted, as well as competitive games like the aforementioned Street Fighter IV, and even some downloadable games like Contrast or echochrome. Some titles even come bundled with DLC like Darksiders 2, and all the games can be played with local or online multiplayer if the game natively supported it. Overall it’s a pretty impressive assortment of games for a gamer looking to get the most bang out of their bucks. The subscription service for PlayStation Now is currently only available on the PlayStation 4, with plans to bring it to other consoles and devices in the future.
While at the PlayStation Now booth, I saw several games in action, including Batman: Arkham City and Super Street Fighter IV on PS4 systems, and a NBA 2K14 running on a Sony Blu-Ray player (which will see the implementation of PlayStation Now’s subscription service in the future). Both Batman and Street Fighter were playing smoothly, with no tears in visuals or lag in button input. For Street Fighter though it’s worthwhile to note it was only being played in local multiplayer matches: I would venture to guess the game would lag online dependent on each players own internet connection. While playing, I was able to seamlessly pull up the PlayStation 4’s menu bar, and immediately see the others games available to stream and play instantly. The navigation to and from the games is simple, but it can take several minutes for you system to start up a new game. Again, this is probably dependent on your own internet connection.
Instead of ranting on about all the things you already know about PlayStation Now’s subscription service, I’ll continue by going over the questions I was able to ask Mr. Buser about PlayStation Now.
PlayStation Now users can expect the library to grow each month. While some games might be removed for this reason or that (likely contractual obligations I’d presume?) Sony’s goal is to add more games to the service. Speaking of the games themselves, each title was “Hand Selected” by the PS Now team to appeal to a broad audience of gamers. There are competitive games, shooters, indie games, kid friendly games, and games that may have flew under the radar for most.
Are all the games included going to be full games, or are some going to be demos or only a certain part of the game?
Every game included in PS Now is a full, complete game. Some games are actually bundled with corresponding DLC to complete the entire package of the experience.
Will there be integration of Trophies, online multiplayer, and support of the PS4’s unique social interactions?
Yes! Every game included in PS Now will have trophy support as well as online and local multiplayer if the game originally had those options. All of your trophies and statistics will stay on your console should your subscription to PS Now end, and your save data will remain intact as well, meaning you can pick back up where you left off should you decide to return. *Though Mr. Buser didn’t answer the question directly about support of the PS4’s social capabilities (Like being allowed to stream to Twitch, having the game appear as what you’ve recently played on your feed, and so on), it would seem to be possible by the way you were able to jump in and out of the game via the PS4 menu as you can do with any other PS4 game.*
What other devices are going to be supported by PS Now’s subscription service?
Right now only the PS4 will use PS Now’s subscription based service, but the goal will be to incorporate other Sony devices within the next several months. Those devices will include the PS3 and PS Vita game consoles, as well as selected Sony Bravia television sets and Blu-Ray players. When the service comes to PS Vita, there will be an added benefit of having cross platform capabilities between the PS4 (PS3 was not specifically mentioned, so don’t hold out for that) and PS Vita, meaning you can play on one and continue where you left off on the other.
The Blu-Ray player is running NBA 2K14. What controller options will be supported for those devices?
Right now the only supported control options for Sony televisions and Blu-Ray Players are the DualShock 3 controllers. While Sony is working on incorporating the DualShock 4 and possibly other controllers, at the current time only the DualShock 3 will be used.
What has the response been to the announcement of PS Now’s subscription service?
We just announced the subscription service at the beginning of the show, and people are really excited about it! Gamers, tech guys, and people that otherwise don’t play many games see PS Now as a great gateway to all things PlayStation they may have missed out on. And being able to start and stop when you want is really exciting for people!
Thank you for your time!
After the impromptu interview, I am actually even more pumped for PS Now! The selection of games is really good; much better than I had expected. The inclusion of DLC for some titles makes the deal even better! And having games that are actually worth my time to play almost makes this a no brainer. There was even news after the show stating Sony is exploring the possibility of bringing PS2 and PS1 games to the PS Now subscription service, but are currently only looking at PS3 games. The more the merrier, right?
What are your thoughts on PlayStation Now? Is it the Netflix of gaming we’ve all been wanting? Or is it the downfall of gaming, moving to an all digital based medium? Let me know in the comments below!