Sony released their new service this week to the public as a beta test and PS4 owners have access to select PS3 games to rent for a few dollars. The pricing structure for some select games is as follows as compared to what it would cost to buy the same thing used (note prices on Amazon may have changed since writing this but you get the idea):
|Game||Lowest Price to Buy (at time of writing this)||Rental Time on PS Now|
|Metal Gear Solid 4||$5.79 used at Amazon||4 hours at $4.99|
|Kill Zone 3||$5.49 used at Amazon||4 hours at $2.99|
|Darksiders 2||$16.48 used at Amazon||30 days $14.99|
|Guacamelee||$14.99 download on PS4||90 days for $14.99|
|F1 2013||$39.99 new at Amazon||$30 days for $22.99|
These are a select few games chosen but in comparing some of the others, the pattern is the same and often you will be able to pick up a copy of the used game at around the same price it would cost to rent it.
Whilst these prices are part of the BETA and subject to change, I get the feeling that Sony may not deviate too much from this unless they go down the route that everyone is expecting and introduce a subscription model like Netflix. Everyone knows the rental game is dead – look at Blockbusters and the shift to subscription based services such as Netflix, Hulu Plus, Lovefilm / Amazon Prime etc.
If they do keep the pricing as they have published then surely it is doomed for failure. Would you pay those prices? I personally can’t see myself coughing up $4.99 for 4 hours of Metal Gear Solid 4, I wouldn’t make it past the first codec call! But the service does have me intrigued and there is something to be said about being able to log into your account on someone’s Sony TV or Sony PlayStation TV, picking up a controller and jumping straight into a game.
The service itself runs relatively smoothly and actually quite impressive considering you are streaming a game but it does not feel the same as playing direct of your console. You do get the odd latency issue and of course your internet has to be stable to avoid any interruption with connectivity. Sony recommend a 5mb connection as a minimum and to have a wired connection.
Here are some immediate suggestions we think could think of to improve Sony’s PlayStation Now service:
Change PlayStation Now to a Subscription Service
Sony should, as everyone is expecting and hoping, create a subscription service so that you pay a monthly fee for unlimited access to the whole games library. As Netflix does with their content, we would expect games to come on and off the library after certain periods of time so that it remains affordable for Sony whilst keeping content fresh; We would hope this allows for more than one user and is at a relatively low price.
Offer Discounted Prices Following Rental on PlayStation Now
This would allow users to treat rentals as a demo which could be unlocked for the payment of a discounted price. One suggestion is to simply discount the rental cost from the price of the game.
Add PlayStation Now to PS Plus
One of the biggest problems for PS Now is the cost effectiveness of PS Plus. For $39.99 per year, you get a whole load of free games disseminated throughout the year (2 games per month) and decent set of discounts on prices. As such, PS Now could supplement PS Plus in return for a higher subscription fee. The disassociation with PS Plus on the whole does not sit right with us. Sony should reward its PS Plus members in some way and what better than to add the PS Now service at a discounted rate.
Change the Pricing Model
This is on the assumption that Sony chooses not to opt for a subscription model. If they were to tweak the pricing so that its either cheaper or offer unlimited use once you have paid for the rental this would be an easier pill to swallow at the prices they have published. Even then however its still a hard sell when you could buy the game outright for around the same price.
Here is Sony’s introduction to the BETA and a quick demo of the service.
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