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PS Now Explained: What You Need To Know About Sony's Cloud Gaming Service

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Sony's streaming future, PS4 /PS5 games on PC, and what it means for you.

Cloud-based gaming has continued growing over the last few years, and while there is a lot of emphasis put on services like Xbox Cloud Gaming and Google Stadia, Sony came onto the scene before either of them with PlayStation Now. The cloud service lets you play some of Sony's biggest PlayStation games without needing to download them, including the ability to play certain games on PC, and it's a great choice if you don't want to wait for pesky downloads to finish.

It's understandable why PS Now might have slipped past you. The service was in a rather primitive form in its early days, with a fairly limited library and less-than-ideal stream quality. However, Sony has made strides since it launched PS Now in 2014 by improving functionality and expanding access, even letting you directly download PS4 titles like you can with Xbox games via Game Pass. If this is news to you, or if you simply want to know more about PS Now, let us walk you through everything you need to know about Sony's subscription service.

PS Now's game library has expanded greatly since its early days.
PS Now's game library has expanded greatly since its early days.

Quick History Of PS Now

PS Now was in beta in 2014 for Sony's family of gaming platforms (PS4, PS3, PS Vita, and PS TV), including Sony Bravia TVs, and subsequently launched in 2015 in North America, Europe, and Japan throughout that year. At the time, it only had a handful of PS3 games in its library available for streaming, but has evolved since.

While Sony dropped PS Now support for PS3 and PS Vita/TV in 2017, it bolstered the service by expanding the library with PS4 and PS2 games in 2018, including the ability to download them directly to your PS4. And in 2019, PS Now game streaming was brought to PC users through a dedicated application, and it is also now supported on PS5. Today, PS Now sits pretty with over 800 games that cover releases from Sony's various gaming platforms.

How PS Now Works

PS Now is a subscription-based service that grants you access to a large library of games. One of the biggest developments recently was that Sony cut the monthly price in half, from $20 to $10, to align closer to its competitors. There are three subscription models as of now; monthly, in three-month chunks, or on an annual basis:

  • $9.99 monthly
  • $24.99 for three months ($8.33/month average)
  • $59.99 yearly ($4.99/month average)

Playing games via cloud streaming on PS Now does not tax your local hardware the same way digital or physical copies of games do. That's because the processing tasks are performed by remote servers that send video feed to your screen--you're accessing the cloud to play these games. There are some inherent advantages , like not putting stress on your actual hardware and not having to wait for a download to complete before playing. Though the possibility of noticeable input lag or compressed image quality by virtue of streaming still lingers--your mileage will vary depending on your connection.

At the moment, PS Now is a bit like the Xbox Game Pass approach, but for PlayStation games, as you are also allowed to download PS4 and PS2 games directly to your PS4 as part of your subscription. About 300 games are available to download on console.

The Games You Can Play

PS Now has some big hitters, like the latest God of War and Uncharted 4: A Thief's End, both high-profile PS4 exclusives. However, certain games can and will be cycled through. Just like with Xbox Game Pass, third-party games generally won't stay on the service permanently, so make sure you check on any expiration date before starting a new game.

Subscribers have access to a variety of great games like Bloodborne, Rocket League, and Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain. PS Now also casts a fairly wide net; Sony shows confidence in the service's capability as you'll see fighting games, competitive shooters, and fast-paced action games on the roster, which typically demand a low-lag gaming environment. It's likely you'll find something you'll enjoy, but here are a few PS4 titles we'd recommend right off the bat:

  • Bloodborne
  • Uncharted 4: A Thief's End
  • God of War
  • Rocket League
  • Grand Theft Auto V
  • Mortal Kombat 11
  • Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain
  • Tekken 7
  • Valkyria Chronicles Remastered
  • Wolfenstein: The New Order
  • XCOM 2
  • Gravity Rush 2
  • Fallout 4
  • Battlefield 4

It's not just about the latest PS4 games, though. You can find number of PS3 and PS2 available on PS Now as well, and here are some that we can recommend:

  • Ape Escape 2 (PS2)
  • Batman Arkham Asylum, City, and Origins (PS3)
  • Bioshock 1, 2, and Infinite (PS3)
  • Braid (PS3)
  • Catherine (PS3)
  • Eternal Sonata (PS3)
  • Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots (PS3)
  • Metal Gear Solid HD Collection (PS3)

Over 800 games make up the service, and you can check out the full list of games available through PS Now.

While a subscription to PS Now doesn't give you access to PS Plus benefits, you're at least granted access to multiplayer capabilities for games on the service. It's a nice perk that doesn't require you to commit to both subscription services to get the most out of PS Now.

With a decent internet connection and a controller, you can PlayStation games on PC with PS Now.
With a decent internet connection and a controller, you can PlayStation games on PC with PS Now.

PlayStation Games On PC? No Way!

You can now play PlayStation games on PC via PS Now through the app. Sure, it's not the same as having a proper PC port, but it's pretty wild to at least have access to some of PlayStation's hits on a computer. Given that you meet the technical requirements of internet speed, all you really need for PS Now on PC is the proper controller. A DualShock 3 or DualShock 4 controller will work, as well as any gamepad recognized through XInput on Windows (that includes Xbox 360 and Xbox One controllers).

Your PC needs to be running Windows 10 or higher (currently there's no support for Mac), so even that junky old laptop can play God of War or Uncharted 4 as long as it runs the PS Now app and holds a stable internet connection. You only need 300 MB of space and 2 GB of RAM, as well.

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Michael Higham

Senior Editor and Host at GameSpot. Filipino-American. Ask me about Yakuza, FFXIV, Persona, or Nier. If it's RPGs, I have it covered. Apparently I'm the tech expert here, too? Salamat sa 'yong suporta!

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