Even though video game streaming services have been floating around the industry for quite some time (look no further than OnLive and pre-Sony acquisition Gaikai), PlayStation has made a big splash in the market with their own take on cloud gaming, PlayStation Now.
Earlier this week, Sony announced that players who subscribe to PlayStation Now will gain access to a catalogue of more than 100 PlayStation 3 games, which will stream to various platforms and devices including PS4, PS3, Vita, and selected Sony branded televisions.
The key word here is ‘subscription’, as the beta version of PlayStation Now – which ran through summer of last year – offered hourly and daily prices instead of monthly, all-you-can-play subscriptions. We’re talking about $2.99, $3.99; hell, even $4.99 for 4-hour rentals, and up to a near-full price of $49.99 for 90 day rentals.
What the fire-truck were you thinking, Sony?
When compared to the recently announced prices – $19.99 for one month, and $44.99 for three – PlayStation Now’s subscription model is considerably cheaper than what was set before. But still we have to ask, are these price points acceptable?
In August of last year, Electronic Arts announced their new subscription program, EA Access. This service gives players unlimited access to their archived “vault” titles exclusively on Xbox One, while charging $4.99 a month, and $29.99 for the year. This didn’t become an Xbox One exclusive because Microsoft shot money into EA’s face with potato guns as conventional wisdom might assume; EA approached Sony with the same offer, and Sony turned them down.
When asked why they didn’t warm up to EA’s proposition, Sony issued the following statement:
“We evaluated the EA Access subscription offering and decided that it does not bring the kind of value PlayStation customers have come to expect.”
Now to be fair, the Sony representative was speaking within the context of PlayStation Plus, which is definitively a better value than EA Access in its embryotic stage. However, proposing that PlayStation Now offers better value, where a single month is just $10 cheaper than a full year’s worth of EA access, is a mental backflip that’s enough to give me a stroke.
While one can argue that the instant access to 100+ PlayStation 3 games fares better EA’s minor handful, allow me to direct you to the sheer cost of $180 a year. That’s right; this is the figure you’re looking at if you choose the cheaper option of PlayStation Now by renewing your subscription every three months. Doing it monthly will set you back a whopping $240. That’s absurd. Heck, even OnLive’s more expensive option is priced at $12.95 a month.
In the home console space, consumers are conditioned to seeing single figure subscription prices. PlayStation Plus, Games & Deals with Gold, Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Instant Video: All of these services are priced under $10 a month. Not $19.99 per month; not $44.99 for every three.
While Sony might be proposing an enticing offer with their upcoming PlayStation Vue television streaming service (though pricing has yet to be announced), in the case with PlayStation Now, there are far cheaper alternatives to access games both on Sony’s platforms and elsewhere. And while dropping from ludicrous hourly pricing for game rentals to a monthly subscription model is a significant first step – even as the only major console streaming service on the market – Sony needs to make PlayStation Now far more competitively priced.