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Feature: PlayStation Now Review - The State of Cloud Gaming in 2016

Posted by Sammy Barker

Stream machine

PlayStation Now has been a fixture in the Sony furniture for some time now, and that's left it a little misunderstood. In absence of true backward compatibility on the PlayStation 4, many see it as a solution for PlayStation 3 gameplay on the Japanese giant's new-gen machine. But, as its recent release on the PC testifies, the platform holder has bigger plans than that.

Instead, it's clear that the manufacturer sees this as the long-term replacement for consoles themselves; there'll come a time when we don't need hardware under our televisions, and we do all of our gaming in the cloud. That future's still a good decade or two away, but it's coming, and PlayStation Now will ensure that the organisation's prepared.

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For now, though, the service represents a means to play PS3 games on your PS4, PC, or Vita – and it works better than you could ever imagine. You'll need a speedy Internet connection and controller lag varies depending on the release, but it's not as noticeable as you may imagine, and it's possible to play pretty much any type of game competently.

Sure, you won't be tearing up the online lobbies of Ultra Street Fighter IV, but first-person shooters like Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel or platformers like Ratchet & Clank: A Crack in Time equip themselves well. Moreover, arcade experiences such as Crazy Taxi and Super Hang-On perform perfectly fine, too – the latter feels like you're playing it natively.

But it's worth remembering that these are still PS3 games – warts and all. Performance issues and presentation problems that were present in the originals are maintained here – you're quite literally playing a PS3 game in the cloud. Fortunately, because all of the processing is offloaded on Sony's servers, you don't need particularly powerful hardware to run the games.

And this is the real genius of the service: it can run on anything with an Internet connection really. Long-term, it's not hard to imagine a future where the entire PlayStation back catalogue – spanning PSone right the way through to PS4 – could be playable on-demand on your phone, tablet, or any other electronics device. And that's pretty darn exciting.

It's just not there yet. In fact, despite being called PlayStation Now, it doesn't feel like a product truly for the present – it works well, as mentioned, but it'll probably end up costing less purchasing a used PS3 if you want to access its ageing library. With constant iteration and investment, though, this service will gradually get more and more attractive.

We'll see how far it's come when we revisit it next year.

Have you tried PlayStation Now yet? Are you impressed with the cloud-based gaming service? Stream some thoughts into the comments section below.


User Comments (35)



Drawfull said:

I pay for it, then don't, then want to play R-Type again so, do*. It does work really well. My home net is fast enough plenty, but even at work (they have 40mbs down, not sure of up) it's great.

I agree it really is the future, but I wonder what this future will do to the PS brand.

*You used to have to pay an extra rental fee for some games, including RTD, but that seems to have vanished.

The only other neg I can think of is that Sony reserve the right to remove games at any time - there was some fallout when FFXIII disappeared a few months ago, when people had invested dozens of hours into the title.

Still It is great, especially if you have a VITA, or want to use a PC. Don't have a compatible PSTV.



adf86 said:

What's telling about all of this is that it's run by Gaikai, the streaming company that Sony bought for $380m at a time when the company was losing a heck of a lot of money. So they obviously saw a lot of value in the company to buy them for that much, as well as Onlive's assets when they went under. It's worth remembering that Gaikai also does Remote Play and Share Play as well both of which have been key or unique features on the PS4.



dryrain said:

I like the idea of streaming games the issue is the lack of good internet service. Its fine if your living in one of the major cities or most towns but once you get out of those areas the internet is really poor. I am sometimes getting 1mb connection the fastest is 3mb. So its impossible to use this service. Streaming movies and TV is just about possible. So unless the infrastucture for the internet improves a lot then this service no matter how good will noly be avaiable to x amount of people. Not forgetting less developed countries where the internet is even worse.



DerMeister said:

I'm still not sold on the idea of game streaming services. Granted, I'm somebody who's cursed with perennially terrible internet, so this would be a crap option for me, but I really don't think services that always require online would work well. I know I'm going to have to adapt eventually (especially being a young gun around here), but I'm really not looking forward to the day.



wittypixel said:

I don't think this will ever be a thing. We would need knew internet tech first. Unless internet is 100% reliable this will never replace owning and playing the physical console.



DLB3 said:

When gaming is all in the cloud, I will game no longer.



Drawfull said:

@wittypixel It's a bit weird, but I live in a really poor part of Spain (40% unemployment), but we have 300mb fibre to your house and you GET 300mb. For 35euro a month. So there's hope I think. Countries just need to throw a bit of money at it.



WillMerfi said:

I think backwards compatibility killed all possible momentum PS Now ever had and its availability on PC is a last ditch effort to save the initiative altogether.



finalstan said:

I think this is a fine idea, but the problem with FFXIII highlights the issue I have with it: where are the games I actually want to play? All the good ones will be remastered so are less (or un-) likely to appear in their original guise. This, coupled with truly excellent current generation of games makes for a hard sell. I don't know a gamer who wouldn't have a huge backlog of games; this is a generation of backlogs (Pushsquare should do an article on that).



sub12 said:

PS Now is a disappointment, if you have a large screen, the graininess is there, and if you use a low lag input monitor / television, you can tell it's a bit sluggish.

All in all, it's playable, but it still feels a bit off, sensitivity to technical issues will kind of be the determining factor in how much you enjoy it. If you have a small screen 720p television and you were never use to input lag in the 10-25 ms rage, you probably won't mind.



roe said:

It is hard to see who this service is actually supposed to appeal to.

Casual gamers aren't gonna pay £13 a month for old games. Perhaps if it ever gets to have brand new releases it'll seem an attractive alternative but that's a long way off.



Bad-MuthaAdebisi said:

I played the beta for the service and found the streaming quality pretty poor, I don't have any interest in old games anyway so it ain't for me.



get2sammyb said:

@wittypixel It will happen. Perhaps not soon, but we will get there.

Remember, 20 years ago, barely anyone had a mobile phone, and the Internet wasn't particularly popular either. A lot can change very quickly.



Carl-G said:

It worked brilliantly when I used it in the Beta on the PS4 last year(or was it the year before, I can't remember because the PS4 does so many things) The only thing that puts me off is having to rely on the internet for gaming. But I just read on another site that the PS4K will have PS1/2&3 discs playback!?!?(I don't believe that but it's nice to DREAM that) but if that did happen it would be THE BEST DAY OF MY LIFE!



get2sammyb said:

@Bad-MuthaAdebisi The video is all footage taken from PS4 and PC versions of PS Now, so you can see that it's improved a lot. Still not perfect, though, and clearly not for you given what the service currently offers.

The tech is getting there, though.



Bad-MuthaAdebisi said:

@get2sammyb I think current gen games that are past any significant sales should be considered for inclusion on the roster of games, can't see it happening though.



GoatWrench said:

The last time I looked at it the selection wasn't the greatest. Besides every game ever released last gen will eventually get a remaster anyway. I can hardly wait for Haze: The Definitive Edition.



NoCode23 said:

Streaming does not interest me. What i am interested in is the XBOX Scorpio. With a windows operating system the Scorpio can be the complete evolution of game console to game pc.

The Scorpio could offer backward play back to the first xbox as well as more pc like options like fov, draw distance, ext and mods. Instead of streaming games the games could be downloaded to play for a period of time in a rental service, and thus offering better game play over streaming.

Overall for me my big desire is new games so i am keeping an eye on the Scorpio as it may offer what i really want. The ease of console play with lots of pc features. I am happy with my choice this gen, PS4, to a point, but i was very close to going pc.



JohnnyBastos said:

Without wanting to sound smug (and I know I do), it's quite amusing to see the resistance to the inevitable future of gaming on the cloud. It will absolutely happen, no if,s no buts. Yeh sure, connectivity is still very poor in many parts of the world, but it is improving day to day to day. Whether its with more fibre, or better 4G coverage, we will be 100% connected 100% of the time across 100% of the world with a decade or two. Get with it guys, the boxes under your TV WILL stop being sold at some point.

Much more of an issue for me, is who really cares about playing PS2 games? For sure, if you never played a classic it's a great opportunity to see what you missed, but beyond that surely most people want to play new games? Whether they are hardcore or casual.

Playstation Now is clearly not going to be about backwards compatibility in a few years time. It is going to be where you play new games and have the chance to check out old ones as a bonus..



NoCode23 said:

@chiptoon: Good question. With Now it is about the requirements for only 720p @ 30fps. How about 1080p @ 60fps or higher as pc gamers want. Then there is 4k graphics. Pc gamers want mods and console commands so will want the game on their hdd.

All streaming for consoles may be the future but streaming to a hdd to play from the hdd would probably work better than stream playing.



wiiware said:

@NoCode23 Why buy scorpio when all of it's game will be on pc, it's not worth it. Just upgrade your pc with a cheap $200 video card, that's way better than buying scorpio. Also I don't think streaming work that way, you can't download stream data to hdd.



AhabSpampurse said:

@dryrain I'm not sure I entirely agree with you here. I live on the top of a Welsh mountain lined by two valleys. The only things surrounding me are sheep, trees, and the occasional incestuous cannibal. Saying that, I still get speeds of 30MB-50MB and PS Now works like a dream. Maybe I'm just lucky



johncalmc said:

I actually use PlayStation Now on my PS4 to play games I missed from the last generation - namely God of War III, Resistance 3, Sly Cooper, probably Killzone at some point. Maybe more.

I think the service is pretty good, and I rarely have any issues with it. It's maybe a little pricey, but I think if they ever get round to adding PS2 and PSOne games then it'll be a great deal, and basically a Netflix for gaming.

First steps, at the minute. In the future this will be the norm.



JoeBlogs said:

@johncalmc I think they need to make A LOT of games available for me to be interested. The thing is, I suspect they'll just make the ps2 and ps1 games that are already available from the ps store available, Whereas I'd really like a tinker with games like Tenchu that aren't available anywhere else because of licensing issues or something.



johncalmc said:

@JoeBlogs It depends on how much you play, I suppose. And how many of the games on the service are new to you. Since I signed up three months ago, I've played God of War II, God of War III, Ascension, Resistance 3, Sly Cooper, Tokyo Jungle, and probably more I've forgotten about. I think that's worth it for me, and throwing some PSOne classics I can't play in any other way would only sweeten the deal.



Fred_Red said:

i tried it on ps4. works great . played the last of us for the first time and god of war !



jmbenetti said:

Any news about psnow coming to South America? I couldn't find news about It anywhere.



kyleforrester87 said:

As mentioned in the article, it is inevitably going to be the future of gaming. Can't say i look forward to the day, but it won't be so bad. In terms of PS Now at the moment, i played half of God of War 1 and a bit of Red Faction Gorilla. The former was fine, the later less so.. Found even the small amount of input lag frustrating. The other games i sampled all seemed good enough (crazy taxi, everybody's golf etc)

My problem is I get overwhelmed when there is too much choice. Netflix, Spotify, etc



professorhat said:

@DLB3 why? If the experience is the same, what does it matter if you're streaming a game across the Internet instead of it being processed locally on a console?



DLB3 said:

@professorhat It erases the feeling of ownership, the games will never actually be my property, or in my possession. I'm kind of old fashioned when it comes to gaming, and there's nothing like having that hardware to insert your disc in.
(Read that last line in a non-dirty way)



professorhat said:

Lol! I understand the preference, but I think you get used to it. I always thought I would buy CDs in preference to online music, but once I got used to the convenience of Spotify, i havent bought a CD since. Ditto with Blu-ray and Netflix. If they can make game streaming as easy and ubiquitous as this and things like Netflix, I'll happily trade in my console.



xMEADx said:

Tried it, it sucked, unless you have 40+ meg don't bother I have 50+ but still only had it for a month the game's are crap and they look it as well, they look far worse than they do actualy playing it on a PS3. Total Sony, total rip off. Would rather have EA access than PSnever and at less than half the price Sony are asking for PSnever.



Nimkip said:

I never tried PSNow on my PS3 (I believe it's on PS3?) but I like the idea of streaming games kinda like Netflix haha

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