A Review in Progress: PlayStation Now
User Interface
Games
Reliability
Cost
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Now for Playstation

We’re a month now into the Irish life-cycle of Sony’s subscription service PlayStation Now. Billed as “Netflix for games”, GamEir has been putting in the hours to find out two things; One, is the cloud-based system viable? Two, is it worth paying for?

This new gaming platform went live on the 21st of March, after being rolled out in 2015 in North America, and following suit in EU countries over the past 3 years. The premise is simple, you pay a monthly fee of 14.99, and get access to a library of over 500 games. The games range from PS2, PS3, and PS4. Playing them is download free and purely a streaming service. PC gamers may well recollect similar service OnLive, or more recently GeforceNow.

Now for Testing

Viability is the main crux of any cloud-based system. After all whats the point in having access to 500 games if they’re laggy and stuttering? Especially if you’re playing a timing based game like Ultra Street Fighter 4 where every frame matters? For the purpose of the review, I tested Playstation Now under several conditions, on both my own PS4 and my desktop PC(more on the multi-platform aspect later). I have a 100mb (supposed) fiber connection, with broadbandspeedtest.ie consistently gave me 60+mb/s download speeds. A constant lag of 4 frames per second is embedded into PlayStation Now. Sony has put this in so that as long as your connection is constant, the frames dropped will be consistent, and therefore a lot less noticeable.

For Playstation Now, Sony recommends no less than 5mb/s, so you would expect any fiber connection to handle the service trouble free. Given that this is a household service, I have two conditions to test under. Light to Moderate ranges from Playstation Now being given solo router access(light) to having two people in the house browsing or otherwise accessing the internet(moderate). Moderate to Heavy is up to and including other people streaming Netflix and/or gaming at the same time as my tests. I also used WiFi connections and wired Ethernet connections

Test OneWiFi, light to moderate traffic

  • Light traffic causes no visible problems to the service. Games run fine, loading times are fairly quick. Moderate traffic does cause slight problems to PS4 titles streaming, stuttering slightly. Older games run fine.

Test Two Ethernet connection, light to moderate traffic

  • No detectable problems.

Test ThreeWiFi, moderate to heavy

  • Once I started stressing the network problems increased. Under my heavy traffic conditions, the system was unworkable and could not load any games.

Test FourEthernet connection, moderate to heavy

  • Again the wired connection faredĀ better, with heavy traffic causing problems with PS4 titles alone.

Now it’s important to understand that home Internet setups vary wildly in speeds and capabilities, but I offer this information only as a guideline. In any case, it was clear that a wired connection was the best option. The relevance here to your own gaming experience with this system will be paramount. The systems own loading screens are wont to remind us that a loss in connectivity means a loss to your game progress. Save often we are told.

Now for Games

The catalog looks as immense as you’d expect 500 games to look. Dwarfing even my own Steam library in scope. There are many classics from the past two generations, the Batman Arkham series, Oblivion, Red Dead, The Last of Us, its a fairly comprehensive list. The PS4 games, however, are limited to indie titles and older games from PS4’s back catalog. Notable developers EA, Activision and Ubisoft have been left out, but there is enough content here to satiate your gaming appetite. Add to this the fact that Sony is adding games every month and anyone in your home should find something to play. They also have a great collection of LEGO titles, ye know, for the kids!

Now for PC

The ability to play any of this collection on your PS4 is pretty cool. The ability to then pick up where you left off on your tablet, laptop or PC is awesome. This should be the main selling point of this service. It’s a fantastic feature and it works seamlessly. You don’t even need a PlayStation, just a PSN account, and your PS Now subscription. Every Playstation Now subscription also comes with 10GB of cloud storage for game saves. Tip of the cap to Sony for this one.

Now for Cost

14.99 a month is too high of a price point. It’s that simple. There are many ways Sony can go with PS Now, but given a year of PS Plus is 59.99, it’s hard to imagine anyone forking out 3 times as much per year for PS Now. Sony needs to have a look at how they sell this service. A package deal with PS plus would be a good idea. There are many ways to package this product. As an add-on with PS Plus, or with a lower price for longer subscription, or even simply adding extra modern titles. As it stands, however, the value just isn’t there.

Now for Conclusion

It’s difficult not to like how Sony is progressing with PlayStation Now. Its a fine catalog of games, the system works well, and playing old Playstation games on PC is outstanding. However the cost is prohibitive, the PS4 library is lacking, and resolution drops in modern games are pretty obvious. My recommendation: give the free 7-day trial a go and see for yourself. At the very least you’ll get to play some Oblivion again (and realize it has not aged well…)

 

 

About The Author

Brian started gaming on a Commodore 64 before you were born. He played everything worth playing on every platform worth playing them on since then, but refuses to mess with that new fangled VR stuff. Makes him nauseated he says.

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