We find ourselves living in a world flooded with subscription services. Music – we’re all on Spotify or Apple Music. Movies – Netflix and Prime Video are must haves for a lot of people. So it was really only a matter of time before video games went the same way. Microsoft need to be credited for getting ahead of their competitors on this with their hugely successful Xbox Game Pass. Having launched back in June 2017, Game Pass has grown and grown to become one of the most popular subscription services on the market and arguably Xbox’s biggest success story of this generation. With the success of Game Pass, it was no surprise to see Sony wanting a piece of the pie. Back in September of this year they decided to give a much needed overhaul to their tired and battered PlayStation Now service, making it much closer to what Xbox are offering. Sony are currently offering players a one week free trial for PlayStation Now, so I decided to give it a go and see if it’s worth the £8.99 asking price. Here’s how I got on…
The first massive improvement I noticed was the new library of games available. Huge PlayStation exclusives such as Uncharted 4, God of War and Bloodbourne are all (at the time of writing) available to both stream and download. There are also a fair amount of couch multiplayer sports games which are always great to have on services such as this, titles such as NBA 2K18, WWE 2K18 and Need for Speed Rivals all make for great pick up and play games for when you have friends over. There’s also a massive list of PS3 titles that are available to go back and play, though this is where I ran into my first problem, PS3 games are only available to stream unlike many PS4 games which you can download and play straight off your console. This was frustrating for me as one of the main reasons I took out a free trail with PS Now was so that I could go back and play Batman: Arkham Origins. Origins was never lucky enough to get a PS4 remaster like Asylum and City did, so the only way to play the PS3 classic on your PS4 is to stream it on PS Now. At first I was okay with this, the game booted up relatively fast and I was on the main menu ready to start my bat adventure all over again.
The first thing I noticed when streaming Arkham Origins was just how washed out it looked. Don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t unplayable by any means, it just looked a little lacklustre. I thought to myself that maybe it’s just me, maybe I’m so spoilt with HDR enabled 4K gameplay on my PS4 Pro that I had just forgotten how rough PS3 games looked… After all the actual gameplay was responding fine with very little lag. I checked my internet speed which was quick enough to stream games but not quite quick enough to stream at full HD, so there lies the issue. I soldiered on but the blurry visuals were starting to annoy me and detract from the overall experience, especially when trying to appreciate the games glorious open world Gotham City. Feeling quite frustrated by the whole experience, I found myself purchasing an old copy of Origins for £4 and dusting off my old PS3, just so I could see a side by side comparison of how bad this stream actually was. Turns out the difference was night and day! So that was that, my streaming adventure on PS Now had ended as quickly as it began. The most disappointing part of all this is that my internet speed is considered average. I have no problems streaming movies in 4K, even on multiple devices! So the fact PS Now was struggling to run a PS3 game in all its glory was certainly a let down for me. I didn’t even see the point in attempting a PS4 stream!
Now I understand that I may be in the minority with wanting to use the service to stream old games from a previous generation. So is the service worth it for the downloadable titles that are obviously available to play at their full capability? If you’d had a PS4 for a while now then I’d say probably not. The titles are impressive yes, but chances are you’ve played the majority of them. I can’t imagine there will be many people out there who own a PS4 and completely missed a game like God of War. The same goes for the likes of GTA V, MGS V and more. Now there are plenty of older titles that may have passed you buy such as For Honor, Mortal Kombat X and Infamous Second Son. Are these worth £8.99 a month though? Maybe for some but the games there that I personally have missed, I would probably be able to purchase outright for less than the monthly payment of PS Now. Another issue is that a lot of the games available on PS Now have been PS Plus freebies over the years. Now I realise that these are two separate services but let’s be honest, the majority of PS4 players looking at PS Now will likely have PS Plus already!
I think PS Now would be better aimed at people who don’t own a PS4. People who, because of that, would have missed out on the likes of Uncharted 4 and God of War but would have surely heard just how bloody brilliant they were! It’s handy then that PS Now offers their service on PC. I thought for the sake of this article that I would give the service a go on PC while I had the trial and I’ve got to say that it was the most horrendous gaming experience of my life… and I didn’t even get past the menu! To be fair though, my desktop is not set up for gaming so I would imagine somebody with a proper good set up would be just fine, that is assuming the person also has a more than decent internet connection as the option to download games is of course not available on PC, and nobody wants to be playing God of War with subpar visuals.
As I come to the end of this story, I think it’s already obvious to many of you that I decided against keeping my PS Now subscription. It’s a good service that pretty much delivers on everything it promises and is a massive improvement on what it was previously. But unfortunately there’s very little reason for me to part with £8.99 every month for a service I’d likely only use when I have a friend over wanting to play a racing game of which I own none. The only way I can see myself giving it another look is if they follow in the steps of Xbox Game Pass and begin to add brand new releases. Game Pass has been praised massively (and rightfully so!) for including huge AAA titles as part of their service this year, including Gears 5 and The Outer Worlds which were both available on day of release. Although Sony’s streaming service has been drastically improved, it still feels like a bit of a joke when Game Pass offers newly released £50 plus games for £7.99 a month, £1 less than PS Now.
To summarise – If you have owned a PS4 for a long time then chances are you, like me, will have little need for PlayStation Now as you would have played the majority of titles and the older PS3 ones won’t run great without an amazing internet connection. I’d recommend saving the £8.99 and looking into Xbox Game Pass as a much better and cheaper alternative. Though if you’re a PC gamer with super fast WiFi then it’s definitely worth trying the service for a month or so to see if you’re able to play some of those massive PS4 titles you may have missed out on in the past. It also acts as a very worth while service for new PS4 owners who also wouldn’t have played these classics and wants to binge as many as possible for as cheap as possible. Aside from that, I can only recommend taking out the free trial if there’s a game on PS Now that you want to try complete in a week, just don’t forget to cancel it before the first payment comes out! I’m looking at you Javier!Become a Patron!