Sony: PlayStation Now is a "Long-Term Journey"

Speaking at Cloud Gaming USA today, Sony's Jack Buser outlined details for the future and goals of PlayStation Now.

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We haven't gotten many hard details on PlayStation Now since the service went into open beta on PS4 earlier this year, but part of the reason for that according to Sony is because the full scope of the project will extend out across the next several years. Speaking at the Cloud Gaming USA conference today in San Francisco, Robert Stevenson from Gaikai and Jack Buser from Now discussed both their goals for Now and the future of the service across Sony's family of products.

One of the driving goals for the future of Now is reintroducing people to gaming and giving lapsed gamers and newcomers access to "an entire generation of games that they may have missed," according to Buser. Part of that comes from PlayStation 4 owners who either didn't own a console at all or who owned an Xbox 360, and Buser reiterated a recent study that many PlayStation 4 owners did not previously own a PlayStation 3.

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But Buser also thinks that Now can expand the audience for PlayStation games even further, especially among people who may have gamed when they were younger, but lifestyle changes and a lack of time mean that they can't necessarily justify buying a new system. And that's why Sony is making such a large push to bring Now to devices like TVs, tablets, and phones.

Currently, Now is available in open beta on PS4 and closed beta on PS3, with more devices coming soon. However, one element that's been talked about since Now's introduction at CES has been a subscription service. One of Buser's presentation slides implied that a subscription service is not necessarily slated for 2014; a bullet point listed out the services for "Later in 2014" as PS3, Vita, and TV. And a bullet point under that labeled "Future Launches" listed "Subscription offering, UK Service, and new devices & content types (long term goal)." However, a PlayStation representative clarified the point with GameSpot saying that the timeline for subscription services is still unannounced and that Sony is still working on subscription pricing details for future announcements. So not having it listed with the 2014 label is more because they aren't yet ready to make a statement on when it's coming out.

"Well over two-thirds of beta users are likely to recommend PlayStation Now." Sony's Jack Buser

Buser also presented one slide with impressive statistics for Now including: "Well over two-thirds of beta users likely to recommend PS Now." A Sony representative said that this is a recent statistic from a survey taken after prices were introduced into the beta. The response to the pricing has been relatively negative and forum posters have complained about the system's latency, but the raw numbers (at least for this one question) indicate a relatively high level of satisfaction with Now.

Buser also offered some information about why Now is still in beta. He said that in addition to additional refinements they want to add to Now, the Sony team is still working through technical issues and bugs. So there's no formal date announcement, but Now is "a long-term journey for us at Sony, and we're just now taking the first steps." And that includes finding the right price for games. While we were critical of of the system and its offering compared to what Sony does with PlayStation now, Buser added that, "Betas are all about learning," and, "Sony is listening to feedback very, very closely." According to Buser, they are constantly analyzing both quantitative and qualitative data from the beta to improve the service, but that they're "just scratching the service of where we'll go."

Have you tried out Now, and if so, how has the service been for you so far? Let us know in the comments below.

Justin Haywald on Google+

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