Last week in the UK Sony launched the PlayStation Now BETA and I received an invitation to participate.
I downloaded the App right away, which is a rather small download and once you’ve downloaded it you are greeted with what is basically the PlayStation Store but with a bunch of PS3 games.
There are about 50 games in the BETA, from Batman: Arkham City to Papo & Yo and everything in between, covering most genres to see how they run.
I spent some time playing Beyond: Two Soul’s (review coming soon), which I missed on the PS3. When you select the game you have two options in the BETA, either pick 2-Day Rental or 30-Day Rental, but as it’s a BETA it’s free.
So I went for the 30-Day Rental, and once you are done that it loads up and just plays like you would on a PS3, except you are using a Dual Shock 4 where you use the left side of the touchpad as select and the right side as start. I would have liked to use the Share as Select and Options as Start, or patch in that you can share PS3 stuff via the PS4, but as Now is on other devices I can’t see that happening.
But on the game itself, it ran flawlessly 90% of the time, but it is a slow-paced game with little going on, where a fighter or first-person shooter might have issues streaming if your internet is not up to snuff. They do recommend 5mbps. The other 10% of the time I had extreme frame-rate issues, resulting in a type of error message, but it kept on going and stabilised itself.
The only other issue I noticed wasn’t due to Now as such, but with the PS4 losing connection and wanting to do an update. It wasn’t much of an issue with Beyond, as when I reloaded it up from the PS4’s menu where any game you’ve rented will appear, so you do not have to go through the App over and over, just continued where the save left off.
I can see this being an issue on a long RPG and if you have not saved and then you lose connection, that would be rather annoying. If you do save, it goes on to the Cloud storage of your PS3 account, linked to your PlayStation Network name and this is a great thing because if Shadow of Colossus HD was on the Now BETA, then I could continue my save from the PS3 as its saved to the cloud and vice-versa.
For example, if you kept your PS3 unlike me, you could start something like Dragon’s Dogma for the 2-Day Rental and your save is in the cloud, then go buy it on disc for your PS3 and just continue from where you left off.
Which is all rather good, but the main question is when it goes live properly in the UK and the rest of the EU, is Now going to be any good? It’s hard to tell as it depends on you, but going by Now in North America where it has gone live on PS4 and we know the prices (UK and EU’s prices are not confirmed yet), I don’t think it’s for everyone.
In the USA there is currently 260+ games on Now and it’s not just the PS4 you can use Now on, you can also use on it on the PS3, Vita (BETA), PSTV (BETA), Sony TV’s (BETA), Sony Blu-ray Players (BETA) and soon Samsung TV’s, where your saves and PSN will carry between all of them.
You have a few options to play the games, such as a $20 One Month Subscription or a $45 Three Month Subscription, which only gives you access to just over 100+ games via the sub and there is no discount if you have PlayStation Plus.
The other option is the rent the game with the options of 4 hours, or 7, 30, or 90 days, but some are only in the Subscription model not the rental. So if you do want to play a PS3 game and you still own a PS3, I would say just go buy it on PS3, or do maybe the 4 hour rental as some games like Papo & Yo are only about 4hrs long, making that $1.99 rental for the4 hours’ worth it or try a game you’re not sure about buying.
I think the real benefit of Now is to the PS4 owners who didn’t own a PS3 last gen. Sony says that’s a large number of the install base at around 50% or 11 million console owners whom now own a PS4 might see Uncharted 4 and think that looks good and want to play Uncharted 1-3, so subbing for a month and paying $20 to play all three (Uncharted 3 isn’t actually on Now at the moment) games, is a great benefit.
But this brings me to another issue, which is if you own a PS4 there is currently about 20 games on Now which are on PS4, such as The Last of Us or rumoured to be coming to the PS4, such as the Uncharted HD Collection and most noticeably, Beyond: Two Soul’s, which is part of this BETA and including when the BETA was going in the USA, but isn’t on the full-fledged version of Now in the states.
At the moment it’s just PS3 games, but there are plans to have PS1, PS2, PSP, Vita and even PS4 games on the service, so in the future you will only need a TV, a decent internet connection and a controller to play your games.
Which possibly is the future of gaming?