PlayStation Now: how does it work?

PlayStation Now: how does it work?

PlayStation Now is finally available in the Benelux, meaning we at Startselect can give it a try. Is streaming the new way to play?

25-05-2016  -  by Thijs Kaagman

When Sony acquired the game-streaming company Gaikai (for a whopping 380 million dollar) in 2012, gamers where very curious to see how PlayStation would use this technique. The announcement of PlayStation Now came one and a half years later, and the service has now finally found its way to the Benelux.

What is it?

With PlayStation Now, Sony brings retro-gaming to the future. Instead of offering backwards compatibility like Microsoft does with the Xbox One, PlayStation Now offers players digital copies of PlayStation 3 games (PS1 and PS2 games are said to be on their way). Well, digital copies… You don’t have to buy any of the games and you don’t even need to download anything. All the games get streamed to your PlayStation 4 through the internet.

What games can I play?

For the Benelux, there are about 200 games available. PlayStation exclusives like the original Uncharted trilogy, the Killzone games, a whole bunch of Ratchet & Clank titles and even The Last of Us. There’s also several PlayStation classics that were remastered for the PlayStation 3, like Ico and Shadow of the Colossus. Lastly, there are non-exclusive games like several Telltale series, the BioShock and Batman Arkham trilogies and a bunch of LEGO-games.

Does it work?

Absolutely! Granted, I’m on a 200 Mbit/s connection so it would be shocking if it didn’t work, but the application indicates it only needs about 5 Mbit/s. Most players in Europe should have no trouble meeting that requirement.

While playing I experienced no input delay, loading times weren’t any longer than they were on the PS3 and there were very little issues with the image quality. Only during very intense gameplay sequences I would notice some image compression, which resulted in patchy graphics.

The only real downside is that you will need a very stable connection. Even the best of us get disconnected sometimes, which results in an immediate kick from the game you’re playing. Being inactive for too long results in a disconnect as well, so you better make sure you save your progress regularly.

What are the costs?

PlayStation Now is a subscription based service that costs €16,99 a month. There’s a 7 day trial period in which you can try out the service for free (this requires a credit-card). You can pay with a credit-card or with PlayStation Store credit, which you can buy right here at Startselect (depending on your region).

The verdict

PlayStation Now shows there’s definitely potential in game streaming. The service works almost flawless, with slight image compressions being the only real technical issue. Getting disconnected is an inconvenience, but with the auto-save on most games it shouldn’t result in too much lost progress.

The entry price is pretty steep though; 17 euro’s a month is almost as much as a Netflix and Spotify subscription combined. The game-library raises some eyebrows as well. While access to over 200 games at once sounds like a gamers’ dream, you will probably only play a handful. Several of them already found their way to the PS4 through a Remastered edition for example, while others were part of a PlayStation Plus package for PS3 or PS4 somewhere in the last couple of years.

In the end, I don’t see people having a continuing subscription to PlayStation Now. You will probably use the service for a month to play one or two specific titles from your wish list and then cancel your subscription. And that’s great, because technically it all works surprisingly well. And I was finally able to play Shadow of the Colossus, which was well worth the price of that first month.

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