PlayStation Now's been misinterpreted by many. The cloud-streaming solution – often incorrectly labelled as Sony's answer to backward compatibility – is clearly an initiative in its infancy; the service that's available today represents the building blocks of a much bigger ambition, where PlayStation hardware is replaced by an app that exists everywhere.
That future may well frighten many of you, and that's because it's a long way away – but technology evolves fast, and we'll be ready for it when the moment eventually arrives. By beginning to lay the foundations of its long-term vision today, Sony hopes that it will be similarly prepared when the tech catches up as well.
Of course, that all leaves PlayStation Now in the strange sort of limbo that it finds itself in today; the technology is impressive – it always has been – but with little to offer other than a small selection of the PlayStation 3's library, it's unclear who it's actually for. These are questions that the platform holder will need to answer in time; for now, we'll focus on the experience that the PC client provides.
Which, lo and behold, works rather well. We went hands on with a dozen or so games via PlayStation Now today, and came away rather impressed; the bit-rate destroys the image quality in places and the lag is noticeable in games that demand a perfect input response, but allow yourself a few moments to adjust, and it's possible to play most titles without even realising you're streaming them from the cloud.
And that's incredible when you really stop and think about it. We took God of War III for a test drive first, and found that its action-heavy gameplay held up when played with a USB connected DualShock 4 on our PC. We noticed a few stutters and audio errors here and there, but overall its mind-blowing visual spectacle was maintained.
One thing that's worth remembering is that, despite the cloud streaming technology, you're still playing PS3 games – warts and all. So while the recently remastered version of God of War III on PS4 may have boasted perfect 60 frames-per-second performance, that's not shared here; the game sheds frames – not because of the streaming, but because that's how it played last-gen.
Your mileage may vary depending on the game, too. We found Ratchet & Clank: A Crack in Time's clean visual style was crushed a little by macroblocking, while SEGA's emulated version of Super Hang-On looked crystal clear. Interestingly, while lag was perceivable in Super Street Fighter IV, Yu Suzuki's legendary motorcycle sim worked as though it was running natively.
Loading times are an issue, with games taking upwards of one minute to boot, but once you're in, everything operates exactly as you'd expect. With over 300 games available, the service represents a treasure trove at £12.99 per month – but only if you've never played any of the titles before.
And that's really the biggest problem with PlayStation Now, as alluded before: we're not sure who it's for right now. It definitely works – impressively so – but how many people desperately want to stream PS3 games to their PC?
It's a long-term initiative, then – something that'll increasingly come to the fore in the decades to come. The challenge for Sony is finding a way to keep the service afloat in the short-term.
If you live in a participating nation, you can try PlayStation Now for yourself on your PC by downloading the client through here. Are you willing to give it a go? Have you tested the service before on the PS4? Stream some thoughts into the comments section below.
And for some reason all those kinds of services like now, video, comics a few years ago, mobile etc. seem to be unavailable here and in a lot of European countries it seems. According to the blog only United Kingdom, the Netherlands and Belgium have PSNow. UK makes some sense but ... should they have France or Germany?
That aside I think that most people sort of have all the PS3 games they want or can buy them cheap. Can they really sell old PS3 games to PC games who want 1080, 4K, 60 frames etc?
Since my PS3 gave up the ghost I've been using PlayStation Now to catch up on some games I missed and I really like the service. If it came with PSOne and PS2 games though - well, then it would be practically essential depending on the titles.
At the minute it's kinda useful. But it's easy to see a potential future where it's the Netflix of gaming.
I tried to use PlayStation Now a little while back, and it said my connection was too slow
I dunno, I reckon there are quite a few PC gamers that are against buying consoles because they love the PC catalogue, but are still interested in certain PS exclusives like Last of Us and Beyond:Two Souls, God of War etc. I'd say it's for people like that, and it's a genius way for Sony to be able to take money from them too tbh.
Where are you based? I used it from the UK before it was released here by using a US account but got the same message. Tried again when it launched in the UK and it was flawless.
@belmont They're rolling it out slowly I think. Makes sense, as if they let everyone in day one it'll probably crash the servers.
@PorllM I'm in Guernsey, one of the Channel Islands. It's simply that our internet services are terrible. The fastest possible broadband is 40mb, but it's only available in certain areas, and it's £67 a month.
I'm on the basic "20mb" broadband, but my actual download speed (according to the provider) is somewhere between 8mb and 12mb. This is £22.99 a month. Unfortunately we don't have any other options, so we're stuck with this super expensive, behind-the-times broadband. I could bang on about it for ages, so I'll stop now
@Quintumply That should be enough for PlayStation Now, though.
@get2sammyb Hmm. I might give it another try soon. I'm now on a wired connection, so perhaps that will help things.
I just don't like streaming services. They benefit the providers, not consumers. Why have to rely on an Internet connection when you don't have to? Seems a step backwards to me but people are lavishing it up regardless.
@Dodoo Well, thinking long-term, theoretically you'll be able to play games with absolutely mind blowing, supercomputer-esque top-of-the-line graphics on something as simple as a phone or a tablet, because the processing will be handled in the cloud.
@get2sammyb True but how much better can graphics realistically get?
Also mobile devices will be so much more capable themselves in a few years and able to run much more advanced software locally anyway.
I agree with what you're saying I just don't want streaming to end downloads ultimately.
@belmont Sounds like you need to move.
Great video. I'm really impressed how far PS Now has come. Do you know if Sony will produce a dongle to connect Dualshock 4 to ipad or android tablets? And will ps now cross save with local saves or ps vita?
@bbq_boy Yes, that works as far as I know. (AFAIK because I only play PSNOW for games that I don't already have on PS3).
I fully expect this to be Sony's main gaming platform in the future, although I'd go for within a decade rather than decades. It will be interesting to see how they work their subscription model, I'm going to speculate it would be closer to Prime video than Netflix, a mix of older games for a subscription with newer games either rented for a few days for one price or bought for a higher price.
While I am normally a bit against major shifts in the way games are sold to me, I actually think if Sony are smart they could pull this off. I'm sceptical enough though to use the 'if'.
Stream me a game, example: "just cause 3" without framedrops and i am in...
@bbq_boy No plans yet, but I imagine the dongle for Windows and Mac is just the beginning.
Everyone will be happy that PlayStation Now is live and streaming, as it will enable many people to play great games: http://playstationnow.zohosites.com/
@get2sammyb That's pretty cool. A year ago I would had hesitated at PS Now just cos I got a PS3 & PS4. But, with the option to play classics on PC/Mac - and possibility on other smart devices in future it's looking attractive. If Sony could somehow link up PSVR headset to MAC/PC that would be damn sweet
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