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Pachter: PlayStation Now Doesn't Have a Prayer of Maintaining Subscribers

Posted by Sammy Barker

Analyst all but writes off streaming service

PlayStation Now may have stoked the fires of much of the gaming industry when it was announced at CES earlier this year, but industry analyst Michael Pachter is finding it hard to get excited. Speaking as part of the latest episode of the Bonus Round, the Wedbush Securities employee suggested that the platform holder will struggle to surpass one million subscriptions – and that it’ll have an even harder time maintaining them.

“The real test for PlayStation Now is whether [Sony] gets access to content,” he said on the show. “There’s no question that they’ll get their own content, but there’s a huge question whether they’ll get access to third-party content that’s newer than two years old. The experience that we have with this is GameTap and OnLive, and neither of those services had games which are newer than two years old, with the sole exception of some THQ content on the latter right before its bankruptcy.”

Pachter continued: “The truth is that the publishers think that their games have a shelf life of about two years, and that’s largely true. As such, they are reluctant to rent their games to a service before they are done selling their games to people who are willing to buy them. I don’t think that PlayStation Now has a prayer of getting more than one million subscribers, and I don’t think that it has a prayer of keeping them, because I don’t think that the publishers will support it.”

The crux of the problem, according to the outspoken suit, is that third-parties won’t back a service that makes them very little money, and consumers won’t be willing to pay high subscription fees. “I don’t think that you can make it work,” he said. “The lower the subscription price, the less likely this thing is to succeed. And if it’s a $30 subscription price, the publishers will embrace it, but no one will sign up.” Not looking good, is it?

Of course, there is the case of PlayStation Plus, which is giving away big titles such as BioShock Infinite for free almost every month. Pachter reckons that this is because Sony’s flashing its cash, but it can’t afford to do that to secure a compelling library for its streaming service. “Netflix is the anomaly, the low-price platform with a ton of great content, and now they’re big enough that they can afford to pay for stuff,” he concluded. “Sony can’t afford to pay those kinds of dollars.”

As always, the analyst does raise a pertinent point, but we do think that he’s overlooking some of the benefits of the online-based option. For starters, it will ensure that content is accessible on a variety of different devices, spanning anything from the PlayStation Vita to tablets and smartphones. Moreover, the service could evolve into a real library of on-demand gaming treasures, including not just modern titles, but also classics such as PaRappa the Rapper, too.

Still, perhaps more than the technology itself, the price of the option remains the real question mark. How much would you be willing to pay for the platform every month, and do you think that it’ll be enough to entice publishers to commit their content to the on-demand application? Sign up in the comments section below.


User Comments (29)



Bad-MuthaAdebisi said:

I somewhat agree but the back catalogue of ps1/2/3 may still interest enough people to make it work. As for Netflix its a load of old crud. Every now n then I sign up to love film to see what ive missed at the cinema. I use my unlimited cinema pass at £16 ish a month and it gets used a lot, well worth it considering a single movie costs an average of about £8 nowadays. I also sign up to a game rental service for a tenner a month. What PlayStation now is offering is something totally different to just plain old game rental so you can't really compare it to Netflix or say the recently deceased Blockbuster. If in a years time you give people the option to play ps4 and ps3 without having to buy a console and just purchasing a ds4 then I can see a lot of people not bothering. Retention is always going to be a problem for any kind of subscription service, that's nothing new.



Epic said:

Interesting indeed, he's precisely right.
Sony can't afford to to put the price too high because it and the average consumer won't pay for it but at the same time they can't set the price to low because they will lose support from publishers and they can't afford it do to their financial issues and its server costs.

The second bummer would be the fact that Sony won't put their games on both PS+ and PS Now so people don't think they are fine with paying only one of its services.



DirectAim said:

I don't think I would use PS NOW for newish games, I'm hoping they fill it with PS1, PS2 and a selection of PS3 games.

I wide selection of older titles will interest the old gamers 25+ who have the money to pay for another subscription, I can't wait to be fair!!!



get2sammyb said:

To be honest, I can totally see his point and I do think it's going to be a problem. Much like PS Vita TV, I do want PlayStation Now, but I'm yet to really figure out why. The tech's amazing, though.



BambooBushido said:

@get2sammyb I agree and disagree with him on this (still think his an idiot tho) but for me personally i know why i want PS Now i never had a PS1 or PS2 and there are a lot of PS3 games i missed



ReigningSemtex said:

When I heard of playstation now I didn't even consider games that have been released within the last 2 years I mainly thought of the classics I could play on ps4 and (when I get one) vita. I think playstation now will be a great success if handled right. I wish people would stop listening to this guy and writing stories based on what this guy says because most of what he talks is bs.



FullbringIchigo said:

this is the same guy who said onlive will be the future of gameing

yeah PlayStation Now might fail with third partys but still why not try anyway



InsertNameHere said:

A low enough subscription fee would bring people in by the boatload, which would ensure that Sony has the money to pay 3rd parties for their games. If Sony can turn PSNow into a PS Plus-esque service, then I can see it working out very well for everyone.

Pachter should get another job because he only see's the small picture, while everyone else is seeing the bigger one.



Bad-MuthaAdebisi said:

If they offered a reasonable sub's service and then ps1 titles to purchase at £5 ps2 £7 and ps3 £10 I think it would do extremely well. Most of these games aren't going to make devs anymore money so why not sell them for knock down prices.



Dodoo said:

I really can't even take a guess how PS Now is going to turn out or how successful it's going to be. It could bomb or be the next best thing since the app store but right now it's all speculation and I'm surprised Pachter is slating it so much. Back-hander from MS maybe?! lol



N711 said:

Its supposed to be for old games isn it ? Not new games... Anyway why listen to him XD



charlesnarles said:

Netflix is bigger than Sony? Or PS? lol no way, José. Maybe more people have Netflix than PS4s, but duh it's software designed for any device vs one brand of the myriad of hardware designed to play it. Not really comparable. Also, interactivity without lag is not the same as buffering video.



eLarkos said:

I dont see it being a success. I think a purchase system would work better. There are a couple of old gems I want to play again but I'm not going to pay a monthly fee to access them. And Patcher is right.. Who is going to pay for this service for a long time?? People that want to keep playing old games over and over? Even if i did subscribe, I would play the games I like and then cancel my subscription



Squiggle55 said:

I see his point, but it's not like they've been advertising this as a way to rent and play new games on the PS4. By the time this service gets going almost all of the big hits of the PS3 will be 2 years old.

I don't foresee a lot of success with the subscription model, unless it's incredibly cheap. I see lots of success with the renting games model, especially if the catalog is complete.

What if they stopped the IGC and replaced it with unlimited access to Playstation Now? Imagine that success.



goonow said:

I didnt even know that there were already services like this. Thats probably cause he's right. Why pay a high subscription fee to play a few games i have already played or can get from the bargin bin.



Visiblemode said:

The problem with this coin flipper is that he should never, ever, ever be listened to.

Even a broken clock is right twice a day and so pointing to his "correct predictions" is pointless. He is wrong, often wildly, on an almost permanent basis.

The videogame industry will be better off when this man is ushered out of the spotlight. He takes the entire medium down with his sideshow.



-CraZed- said:

Once again Pachter pulls out his dunce cap and shows the world how little he actually knows.
Has he heard of a little service called Netflix? Does he not realize that with the deluge of developers shuttering their companies or cutting back on staffing or projects and that many are looking to diversify their revenue streams? Does he even know that Sony has a heap of FIRST PARTY content that alone would make the service worth while? Has he even felt the pulse of the community who are actually very interested in the service?
How the heck am I not getting paid to speak about it and yet I could come up with a much better analysis of the PS Now service than a so-called industry insider/analyst.



AaronYeager said:

To be honest I think 2 years is enough. If Sony can get all the PS1, PS2, and earlier PS3 games within that 2 year window, as well as all of their exclusives both old and current I see no problem with content. This is more or less a service that's going to cater to older gamers in their late 20's and 30's as well as casuals that grew up playing games like Crash and Resident Evil. Maybe once they get enough subcribers publishers may be willing to release new content on it and I'm assuming indies will be the 1st to take the plunge.



banacheck said:

God's knows how this guy got a job in what he is doing, PlayStation Now will not be big when released or 5 years down the line Sony fully well knows this. The main thing holding it back right now is internet speeds, once the internet speed is there & the quality is like playing like it is on your console now that is the end of consoles. Why on earth would a casual gamer spend £300 on hardware when there smart tv already has a service on it just like Sky or something simple fact is thay wouldn't.



Zombie_Barioth said:

I'd say hes absolutely right about the problems PS Now will face. He might not be right about whether or not it'll succeed but then we really don't know much better either.

The way i see it the two biggest selling points for this are legacy content and not having to buy dedicated hardware. I'm sure there are plenty of people who wouldn't normally invest in the hardware just to play one or two games they find interesting, thats a lot of potential customers for a service like this. The only problem is how many casual players would buy a gamepad just for streaming service?



moomoo said:

He makes a really good point. Let's see what Sony will do about it, if anything. There's a lot of potential here. I'd rather not see it get wasted.



AD-80 said:

The whole point behind Playstation Now is being able to play PsOne-PS3 games on non-PS devices (expect PS4 and PS Vita). I still feel like Playstation Now will be awesome in that instance, but we will see what happens.



7yL3r8 said:

And here I thought Patcher only had it out for Ninty...this guys a butt to every console seems like...



IronManDS said:

As a long-time gamer with all systems from the NES to PS4 (except TG16), I find it hard to give more than one **** about this. I like owning physical copies of my games. I do not care to be at the whim of some company which runs a server to allow me to play them. (Hence, why I quit buying XBL games)

Of course, not everyone agrees and some will use the service. As a fan of PS and Sony, I hope it does well. I just don't see it having any longevity. Here's hoping I'm wrong.

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