PS4 owners complaining about the high cost of renting a game through Sony’s PlayStation Now streaming service won’t necessarily have a reason to complain after today. Shortly before CES 2015, the company that makes televisions, video game consoles and more revealed its new PlayStation Now subscription service. Instead of paying to rent a game on an hourly basis, going forward users will be able to play around 100 classic games from the PS3 for as long as they want for $20 a month.
The new PlayStation Now subscription service will roll out to the PS4 on January 13th and come in two forms for those in North America. $19.99 will get users access to the library’s streaming video games, complete with trophies and content updates. In addition to this plan, PS4 owners will have the option of picking up a three-month plan for $44.99. Divided by three months, it is the second plan that’s a better deal. It works out to be about $15 a month.
Announced at CES 2014, PlayStation Now is a cloud gaming service that aims to make renting games less of a hassle. Essentially, it works like a cloud video service. Sony actually houses the machines that the games are played on. What the user sees is streaming video from the Sony’s datacenters around the world. Originally, $4.99 or so would get you a few hours of time with a game in the PlayStation Now library. By introducing a low and predictable monthly cost, PlayStation Now is going from being a competitor of mail-based video game rental services – like GameFly – to something different entirely. GameFly costs $15.95 a month in the United States, and sends games for the Xbox One, PS4 and more directly to users through the mail. Naturally, instant gratification and competitive pricing could make GameFly a non-starter for those who only own a PS4 or PS3.
Last year, Sony confirmed that PlayStation Now would roll out to PS Vita, the PS3, smartphones and even some Bravia television sets. Sony has spent the last year making good on that promise; PlayStation Now is available on the PS Vita and PS3. We’re still waiting for a version for smartphones, tablets and televisions.
For sure, the new PlayStation Now subscription model does almost neuter a big advantage Microsoft’s Xbox One console had over the PS4. This past summer Microsoft teamed up with video game developer Electronic Arts for a subscription video games service that’s only available on the Xbox One. EA Access costs $4.99 a month and gives users access to video games stored in EA’s Vault holds last year’s versions of Madden NFL, FIFA, NBA Live. There’s also Need for Speed: Rivals, Peggle 2 and Battlefield 4.
Where the new subscription service really hurts the Xbox One is backwards compatibility. PlayStation Now allows PS4 users to play games from the PS3. The Xbox One has no backwards compatibility at all. There’s no way for buyers of Microsoft’s current-generation console to play games made from their older console. It’s a small, but crucial advantage for anyone thinking about the upgrade.
Last month a job posting revealed Microsoft is also working on a streaming service of some kind code-named “Arcadia.” It’s unclear when we’ll hear about it.
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