PlayStation Now Beta Prices and Structure -- What Needs to Change?

Several GameSpot editors share their thoughts about PlayStation's new rental service and how it can improve.

The beta test for Sony's PlayStation Now service opened to the public this week, and PlayStation 4 owners now have access to dozens of PlayStation 3 games. For a few dollars, players can try out one of the games instantly without the need to download. You can choose to rent a game for a number of different time periods, from four hours to 90 days.

As a service, it seems to work well besides a few latency issues, but we've noticed that some of the current prices are very high. For example, you can buy many of the games outright for less than it costs to rent them for a week.

However, Sony has noted that this is a beta test and the service will continue to change. "We are listening to our customers, and if customers want to see features or functions as part of PlayStation Now, they should feel free to let us know," the company said. What, then, is necessary to make PlayStation Now worth it? We asked several GameSpot editors to share their thoughts.

Let Us Buy the Full Game for a Discounted Price After Renting It -- Chris Pereira

Beyond the obvious--having to pay more to rent a game than to buy it is dumb, beta or not--what I find most objectionable is the prospect of paying $7 for four hours of play. That's absurd, and paying $2-$3 for what amounts to a demo isn't much better. We need a subscription option. For now, seven days at $4-$7 is a reasonable value. That equals $1 or less per day, which feels almost astoundingly fair considering it's $50 for 90 days of F1 2013 or $20 for 30 days of Dirt 3.

What Now needs besides a subscription are discounted, full-game downloads. Sony has boasted about cloud saves letting you carry your save from a short rental to a long-term one (as if spending $5 and then $30 for Darksiders II is a great deal), but it should be trying to convert rentals into purchases. That's contrary to what seems like a trend toward services that take ownership out of our hands, but it would be a smart use of Now.

Make It Like Netflix -- Eddie Makuch

PlayStation Now rental prices, as they currently stand, are completely out of whack. Why would I spend $5 to play Metal Gear Solid 4 for four hours when I could buy it for $7 and play forever?

At the moment, I'm not likely to adopt or recommend Sony's streaming service anytime soon. I want to try it and I certainly plan to, but I don't anticipate being a regular PlayStation Now user until prices come down or Sony introduces a Netflix-style program.

We know a subscription option is coming; Sony has said as much. But it remains to be seen how much this pass will cost and if we'll be able to share our subscription with family members like you can on Netflix. That would be a compelling value-add feature that I think would be well-received. If Sony were to add original PlayStation or PlayStation 2 titles to the library, that is something I would get excited about as well. PlayStation Now is breaking new ground for Sony and for the industry itself. Some level of growing pains are to be expected, but in its current form, pricing leaves much to be desired.

PlayStation Plus Already Does Everything -- Shaun McInnis

To me, the biggest problem with PlayStation Now is PlayStation Plus. Every month, like Santa Claus working a year-round shift, Plus delivers a free batch of games for me to enjoy. Sometimes, those are games I've already played. But most often, they're either brand-new, or they're games that I never really considered when they first came out and now I can try them out at no risk because, hey, they're free!

"I already have that low-risk counterpart to my regular purchases of full-priced games. Why bother with streaming rentals?"

To me, that's similar to the value proposition that PlayStation Now offers: a low-risk alternative to purchasing a game outright. After all, the benefit of plunking down a few bucks for a four-hour rental is that you're able to get a taste for the thing before you fully commit to it. But with Plus, I already get a pretty great selection of free titles for nothing more than the cost of an annual subscription. So I already have that low-risk counterpart to my regular purchases of full-priced games. Why bother with streaming rentals?

Maybe I'd think differently if I didn't have a Plus subscription, but Plus is a great value and Now... well, I don't know about you, but I'm probably not going to pay $50 to rent F1 2013 for 90 days any time soon.

Why Isn't PS Now a Part of PS Plus? -- Alex Newhouse

What PS Now desperately needs is some correspondence with PS Plus. As Shaun argued, Plus is such a good deal that it makes Now feel outright unfriendly toward the consumer, even if it's a good service. The PlayStation brand is fragmented between two competing services that both aim to deliver good games quickly and cheaply. If I'm already a Plus subscriber and am getting at least two new PS3 games per month, why would I ever try out Now?

Sony should instead create a Now option heavily subsidized for existing Plus subscribers. It wouldn't be hard to add an $80 Plus tier that gives you PS Now perks. It doesn't even have to be unlimited Now access. It could simply give subscribers a certain amount of rental time to distribute among the games of their choice.

The individual rental prices can stay if they're significantly reduced, but Sony needs to work to entice its core audience. If these players get Now rentals included in their Plus subscription, that will feel more like a good deal. That'll also make Now seem more like a legitimate solution for backwards compatibility. Additionally, it will encourage Plus subscribers to try out the service and spread the word.

At the moment, PS Plus and PS Now reflect two wildly different business philosophies. For PS Now to be successful, it has to shift to be more consumer-friendly. Hopefully, as PS Now moves closer to a full release, we will see it merge in some way with PS Plus.

Be Bold With Your Prices, Sony, Don't Be a Dick -- Justin Haywald

When I think about the value I get from PlayStation Plus, the pricing for PlayStation Now seems absolutely baffling. With Plus, I feel like I come out ahead--I can access some great games (often games I was considering buying anyway), and the discounted price that I get for buying my Plus subscription on Black Friday makes the deal even better.

"Be bold, Sony. Charge $5 for a week-long game rental, or offer a subscription for Plus subscribers that's a flat $5/month for unlimited access."

But with rentals in Now broken out into four distinct time categories, prices that run as high as $49.99, and no way to access digital games you've purchased previously on PSN, Now feels like a greedy system solely designed to take your money. I know that PS Plus, along with Netflix and Steam Sales, are also organized just to make more money for companies, but I at least feel like I'm getting the better deal in those cases.

Sony says that it lets publishers set their own prices for this sort of content, but it's a place where Sony needs to step in and own its own service. Looking at the prices now, it feels like the company did market research during which it determined the max amount that people would spend on titles based on genre and time since release, then passed those numbers on to the publishers. But Sony needs to be like iTunes when that company pushed the boundaries of digital music with flat $1 song downloads and $10 for an album.

Be bold, Sony. Charge $5 for a week-long game rental, or offer a subscription for Plus subscribers that's a flat $5/month for unlimited access. That would make it the same price as EA Access, which, although it offers fewer games, isn't limited by streaming tech or restricted to last-gen titles.

If the future of "backwards compatibility" is renting games that I stream to my console at a premium price, I'm going to stick with shopping for bargains on Steam and just downloading my monthly free Plus games.

How would you change PS Now? Let us know in the comments!

Written By

Twitter/Xbox Live/PSN/Nintendo Network: TheSmokingManX

Discussion

175 comments
bensteele10
bensteele10

What about the game's I already own, I don't want to pay for a game when I already own it. So how about figuring out a way to get them free on PS now. Like say I take one of my games in to games top and they generate a code that I redeem on PSN thus unlocking that game.

keeper262
keeper262

I think PlayStation Now is a good idea but in the beta the prices and options for purchasing game time are unacceptable to me. I am not mad or upset however because it is of course just a beta! lol


What I would like to see honestly is a per month or yearly plan. I am done and have no interest in renting per game, my blockbuster days are over and I expect more now. Currently I use GameFly and I like that it is only 15$ a month with unlimited time.

So if PlayStation Now's service included games older than 1 year and old ones from PS 2 and PS 3 I would be willing to pay up to 25$ month for unlimited access. Normally I pay 15$, so 5$ more for the streaming right to play games on systems they were not made for and another 5$ a month for no down time, like shipping time with GameFly.

That's what I would be willing to pay, any more makes other services a better option for me.



thereal_mccoy
thereal_mccoy

Yeah, please don't ruin this sony.  Ill just sell my ps4 and go strictly pc.  Which I practically stream 2/3 of my collection already on twitch.  

zyxahn
zyxahn

They never intended for it be anything but a rental service.  I guess they figured since Blockbuster is gone now the rental business needs a new champion.  I loved it.  $24 a month for 2 of anything for as long as i wanted.  Plus I could rent 2 games or movies every day for the month and not pay anything extra.  Sure you could buy them but why ???  That is something they have to look into since like I said before I don't think they want another service to buy games digitaly.  You can do that already.

kab4211
kab4211

I keep reading these comments about ps+ having great titles, not worth the difference in price, take away the free games for ps+.  For PS4, the free games for ps+ are a joke.  I understand of letting the small guys develop games, but have some standards at least.  As for PS Now, if you take away the free games on PS plus, there is no reason to have it.  So if you offer PS Now for 9.99 a month, and 12.99 for both it would pull in the money to manage the servers.  Trust me, it's not as much as you think it is.  Once the servers are in, the maintenance is minimal unless you want to anger a bunch of customers with a lot of downtime.  The initial price of the servers is where the cost is.  Which since the membership fees are a reoccurring thing, over time you make that money back.  I'm kinda disappointed since I have been a customer since the beginning and have to pay extra if I want to play a ps3 game I already own on the ps4 since I'll have to rent it.  It's funny that when the ps4 first came out they talked about how they were working on a streaming solution to the backwards compatiblity problems.  There is just a handful of games that were able to upgrade from ps3 to ps4, for a fee of course, and you still need the ps3 disk in the ps4 before you can even play them.  Not impressed.

Epsilons
Epsilons

Merge PS Plus subscription to gain acces to PS Now streaming service


- Remove the free PS Plus monthly games.

- PS Plus subscription keep the same prices as before, or cost a little more for PS Now access.

- Gain 90 hours/month to play the games of your choice on PS Now (unlimited acces is no where to be found because it cost SONY a lot of money to handle the game streaming servers) But i feel like 90 hours/month is MORE than enough for almost every gamers.

- Keep the rental option, but only a 2.99$/game options for 2-days rental and a 4.99$/game options for 7 days rental. Remove all the other ridiculous high pricing rental options.


If SONY gost this way, i'am all in for a PS Now backward compatibility futur.

k-b3sd
k-b3sd

playstation now should be the same as ps plus just 15 dollars more for a yearly subscription and we can stream all the games we want for free. Simple 

k-b3sd
k-b3sd

playstation Now should be like ps plus just 15 dollars more for a yearly subscription and we be able to stream all the games for free for a year. Simple 

jcloverboy
jcloverboy

Playstation Now is why they didn't get EA Access on PS4 - the prices are ridiculous.....they were during the closed beta and still are now.

therealdolemike
therealdolemike

technically if sony went to a netflix structure. it could have nes games and above. all threw 3rd party developers


StickyJr1
StickyJr1

I wouldn't mind seeing a nominal charge (or maybe even free) for 'backwards compatibility', either via a PS3 emulator download or by way of Playstation Now.


Based on the fact that Sony has a software PS2 emulator that they didn't offer a la carte for PS3 owners, I wouldn't hold my breath on a PS3 emulator.


You could, however, stream games from Playstation Now as 'backwards compatible' simply by putting your PS3 games in the PS4.  The PS4 could then verify the disc similar to how CDDB verifies music CDs.  Once a disc is verified, streaming could be done as long as the disc remains in the console.

daikkenaurora12
daikkenaurora12

what needs to change... the price.  Make it a monthly/yearly sub.

prime_l
prime_l

PS Now is a massive disappointment!

...that's all I have left to say on this matter. Let down.

AyatollaofRnR
AyatollaofRnR

MS copped a fair bit for their digital platform type plans with the XboxOne and Sony got praised for releasing a traditional console. 


I said then that Sony were absolutely considering a similar approach, they just stepped back and let MS test the waters of a digital future and games as a service. I highly doubt Sony spent all that money on Gaikai just to stream last gen games.

AyatollaofRnR
AyatollaofRnR

This article to me highlights all the reasons this service is a flop. If you already subscribe to PS+ you have a steady stream of PS3 titles, and any other game you are itching to play is probably easy enough to pick up for cheap elsewhere. So what need is PS Now filling?


Now if there was a Nintendo now with their back catalogue that would be a different story.

Sepewrath
Sepewrath

Its funny, when I first heard backwards compatibility was out in the PS4 and many claimed it was fine. I said, Sony left it out, so they could resell you--your PS3 library later. I was right, but I didn't expect them to be so cavalier with the pricing. I would hate to see backwards compatibility give way to this;especially with the general unreliability of hardware that was so evident in this last gen. You have no choice but to buy old hardware, likely over and over or turn to broken models like this. If I wanted to play DKC2 for SNES, I don't have to buy it on virtual console, my original SNES works fine. I don't think I'll be able to say the same about a PS3 10 years from now. Now is likely to fail without sweeping change, I only hope if its tried again or attempted to be made into a standard for the industry. That someone will have the bright idea, to go with a subscription model.

yngsten
yngsten

If Sony is going for BS service of the decade I think we can pretty much say they've made it. This is a test of terrain really, to see how far the industy can push rentals over sales. Supporting this idiocy means slowly giving away the "privilege" to own a game. I'm not talking about the few bucks here and there, but renting games for the same price as retail buy equals a slow move in direction of ownership doom.

Naquada
Naquada

Sony needs to make some serious changes to reel me in here. Between Gamefly or just simply picking up a used PS3 and digging these games out of Gamestop's bargain bin, this represents one of the worst values in gaming today.


People like to say they passed on EA access for this, but I don't think so. They aren't even targeted at the same audience, or intended to do the same things. It's like saying they passed on selling hot dogs because they didn't want it to compete with their sheet music sales. However, where I take issue with this is them declaring EA Access to not be a 'good value', then trying to sell us on current PS Now pricing with a straight face. 


It is kind of insulting, knowing that a company thinks you are THAT stupid, but it is what it is. My only hope for this service is that it is in beta, so they will hopefully offer a reasonable subscription option. If I were to be able to pay $10-15/mo and have access to the PS3 (and hopefully, eventually, the PS1/2) library at will, I would do that. This not only represents a good value for the money, but also alleviates other issues, like doing a 4hr/7d rental and having life suddenly get in the way, flushing your rental.


That said, they won't do that. From a business standpoint, and likely the reason these prices are so high, is because the PS3 (like the 360) is still a relevant console. They're still selling, as are the games for them, so at best we're looking at them trying to strike the best balance possible between sales revenue of the actual product, and the PS Now streamed version. Remember - They aren't doing this to allow PS4 users to experience the PS3 catalog they might have missed; they're doing this because they want to get the PS3 revenue they missed out of you now.

grenadehh
grenadehh

Better yet, just check peoples accounts on PSN tosee what PS2 and PS1 and PS3 games they own, then keep those games owned. Then give a discount for rented games if you actually played it.

simerlytx
simerlytx

Some games on ps now are forgotten and cost a little too much, especially with the gameplay you get. not a tolerable frame per second, which hopefully is fixed once the beta is concluded. Excellent idea nevertheless, the service is way ahead of its time. And once refined, sony will be making a killing. Especially with the next gen console games (if they ever decide to release them into the streaming service). For instance, in may 2 great games released on ps4, Wolfenstien, and Watch Dogs. Why would I spend $120, to only sell them back to Gamestop later? When I could rent them for $20 a week (ball park figure). And be completely satisfied with the gameplay I received. And instead of giving the player "7 days" of rental, it should be 7 days in game hours. Not 3 hours of gameplay, turn off your ps4 to go get some lunch, and forget about your rental for 6 3/4 days, and before you know it the rental becomes unplayable. Ps now has some refining, and whether or not these issues appeal, or even make a ruckus, Im just a entertainment consumer that would love some more bang for my buck. 


This service didn't even exist to the public 1 week ago. The service alone is mind blowing, and here we are trying to critique such an incredible service. Sony for the win. 

thetravman
thetravman

Sony: "EA access is not a good value!"

*Sony launches a beta service that charges $50 for a 90 day rental of a single game* ..........................

che5ter666
che5ter666

If Microsoft did this the whole world would be up in arms!

Chronologo
Chronologo

It should be like Netflix, and have access to the whole PS1 and PS2 libraries, I would put PS3 "greatest hits" only and once the system completes it's lifecycle in a couple of years start putting the whole library. Also if they could get the rights to the Dreamcast library for example it would be awesome.

straightcur
straightcur

Letting publishers control the prices is a terrible idea.  All games should be priced the same and minimum rental time should be 48 hours. Sony, take back control of YOUR service and it may succeed.  In its current form, it is doomed for failure.   On that note, I would only consider using the service if it was a subscription, like Netflix.  But I see the value in cheap rentals.

blee575
blee575

"Seems like a trend toward services that take ownership out of our hands"
I think it's time for us gamers to clearly state (with our wallets of course) that we want the ownership of our games, now and forever. Games are not silly stuff to kill time with, they are works of art you can enjoy many years later (I am about to start replaying Final Fantasy 9 after this comment as a matter of fact). I want my books and my games in my house, where I can access them whenever I want (without paying extra each time...)

jonny_dutch
jonny_dutch

Netflix works cause its simple as balls, £20 a month, pack it with obsolete PS and PS2 games and maybe 10-20 "big-hitters" with no rental fees and I'd be sold. Make things easier than emulating roms and Sony could cash in on me, but committing to these ugly little payments and skirting caveats isn't something consumers want anymore.

solid_snake1461
solid_snake1461

This is a total rip-off! Sony, you are acting like a video rental store in a black water country rather than an international big name. The reason people would be interested in PS Now is because they can play old tittles on the PS4, which could be a huge help in dominating this generation consoles war. What you did there is horrible and outright disappointing. So, lower the rental price for current-gen games and give us a subscription options to all of the old tittles of PS2 and PS3.

Welverin
Welverin

I want access to all the varies Playstation platform games I've previously purchased through the PS Store, and I'd accept that being integrated into PS+ though I don't think anyone should have to pay more for that.


What I will not do is pay a per game rental price, and doubt I'd even pay a subscription fee, though I do feel that would be reasonable.

sladakrobot
sladakrobot

If this is the future,everyone would play OnLive by now.

I really hope MS doesnt try this too and i hope they still didnt gave up the idea of an emulation app for the X1.

Pay once for the app and you can put every X360 disc in the X1 and play the game.

Summischief
Summischief

The prices vary from game to game. And, with some of them I would never ever rent at the current price. I think Sony is gauging what game and game type people are willing to spend money on. Some of the puzzle games are priced at 4.99 for 90 days. Which is not unreasonable and may be accepted if they put more games in this price range. Ultimately a subscription model will come and sure hope its a fair price one.

Martyr77
Martyr77

This is probably Sony's only misstep so far which is pretty good especially compared to X bone. They need to either revamp the pricing/time structure or reconsider the service. I am for owning my games so it doesn't affect me either way.

CephNightmare
CephNightmare

Sony is dropping the ball lately. If this keeps up they will get in trouble with the Playstation Now service. EA Access has better value for the price right now, and if other publishers follow, Playstation Now will soon become obsolete.

dementedseptin
dementedseptin

@k-b3sd Id rather it be inbedded into plus with a 90 Hour Monthly Limit and remove the free games with PSN+ crap. either that or raise PSN+ 10$ with my idea

seanwil545
seanwil545

@Sepewrath 

Personally I kept all my old consoles, even once I moved to PC gaming. Still have my Sega Saturn, PS1 and PS2. I probably have a Genesis and Super NES at my mother's house somewhere. I think a lot of people traded their PS3 to get a PS4 which is bad move IMO.

Sepewrath
Sepewrath

@simerlytx The service isn't ahead of its time, its already been tried and failed with On Live. The system of individual purchases at those prices is just not worth it for the consumer in the long run. Maybe, if they did alter it to where the time was spent when you actually paid the game vs calendar dates, but that's too consumer friendly and wont happen. On Live made the critical error of having a subscription fee to buy games and Now is making the error of having you buy/rent games at outlandish prices. No one yet has seem to catch on to thee idea of a base subscription model, even if it had limitations like say, max 5 games a month for like $20 a month. At this current rate, Gamefly is BY FAR a better option. 

seanwil545
seanwil545

@che5ter666 

No one seems to be a fan of this, including the editors; not sure what else you want.

theKSMM
theKSMM

@blee575 The problem with your "ownership" is that it's not a recurring source of revenue.  But if they can manage to re-sell you that same Final Fantasy IX game for each new console, tablet, smartphone, or handheld you own, well now we're talking about a reliable source of cash flow!

seanwil545
seanwil545

@blee575 

The long-term goal I see is to make games disposable, either by controlling and eventually disconnecting the servers or by moving to a streaming distribution.

Both of these are terrible ideas because essentially we are renting games, not buying them.

So many gamers just blindly accept what is fed to them by the industry.

mi_hung_lo
mi_hung_lo

@solid_snake1461 If it stays like that it would be a perfect opportunity for MS to launch a subscription based format w/ EA and Ubisoft. That would turn the tide IMO

Barighm
Barighm

@CephNightmare Sony is doing great early on, so now they're getting arrogant.

WolfgarTheQuiet
WolfgarTheQuiet

@CephNightmare Not for PS exclusives. Dont bother me, have got all previous consoles and getting another PS2 in few days, this one is chipped.

Sepewrath
Sepewrath

@seanwil545 Me too, problem is, current hardware wont last like that Genesis and SNES.

theKSMM
theKSMM

@Sepewrath @simerlytx OnLive hasn't "failed."  In fact, its latest incarnation that incorporates streaming games from a gamer's Steam library (CloudLift) is doing quite well.

And OnLive never had a subscription fee to buy games.  You either made that up or really misunderstood their pricing structure.

deadline-zero0
deadline-zero0

@mi_hung_lo @solid_snake1461 MS could just partner with Onlive, make it available on the xb1, had 360 exclusives in there, and it'd be instantly better.

Sepewrath
Sepewrath

@theKSMM @Sepewrath @simerlytx "On March 10, 2010, OnLive announced the OnLive Game Service would launch on June 17, 2010, in the US, and the monthly service fee would be US$14.95."It stopped in October of that year, I was unaware of that. The company laid off every employee and sold for less than 5% of its estimated worth. You don't call that failing?