Michael Pachter

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.

[source gametrailers.com]