I was a big fan of PlayStation Now when it was announced and, philosophically, I continue to be a big fan. In terms of practical use, I am not as confident as I once was. You see, the idea behind PS Now is that, for a subscription price, gamers will be able to stream games to their console. This library of games includes both PS3 and PS4 games but, because it is streaming, relies heavily on an internet connection. For many locations in the world, that isn’t always a reliable method.
This was certainly true when I lived in Upstate New York; the internet there was simply not fast enough to support the service unless I paid for the ludicrously expensive higher end for my internet plan. Some places have it worse. Some places have to rely on internet companies like Wild Blue or Hughes Net, which are satellite connections with high latency and, often, daily caps for downloads. Sony needs to change the way PS Now operates. They need to look to Microsoft’s Game Pass model for help
Game Pass is similar to PS Now, but with some differences. Yes, it is a subscription model, but it allows gamers to download the games to their hard drives. So long as the subscription is paid, gamers have access to a wide selection of games from three generations of Xbox consoles. It’s a very convenient way to play, say, Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic, before switching to a very recent release like Sea of Thieves. Games within the catalog also receive a 10% discount on their DLC. It’s a very good way to expand your library of playable games and, like Netflix, will allow gamers to take risks on games that they aren’t totally sure of. Also, as a way of avoiding issues with internet, downloaded game pass games are accessible for a 30-day period before the user needs to reconnect to the internet to verify its license.
In short, the service is convenient, mobile, and is accessible to far more people. Worrying about input latency is also not a concern which is nice; even when input latency is negligible, if I can imagine it is there, then it is there and streaming games is a surefire way for me to imagine that I am not getting an ideal experience. Sony needs to take this route to remain competitive, especially since their consoles don’t have any real form of backwards compatibility. They had phenomenal titles on the PlayStation 3, though, and opening up that library to users would be a boon to them. And it looks like they might do it.
A source has told Kotaku that a version of PS Now, or something similar to it, might be coming out later in 2018. According to the source, that version would allow for downloads and wouldn’t require an internet connection, much like the Game Pass. Everyone who plays on that console will be able to use the service through a single subscription, according to the report. It may very well be modeled after Microsoft's plan, but that is a good thing.
Sure, if you are a gamer that is heavily invested in what is called the console wars, this might be more ammunition. For PlayStation 4 users, a gap between the consoles has closed. For Xbox One fans, the potential PlayStation service could just appear to be a ripoff of something they’ve been able to tout for a long time. For us on the sidelines, however, it is great to see more gamers get access to terrific games for a low price. If people can easily expand their tastes, then that might just lead to better, more varied games for us all. So, please, PlayStation, copy Xbox One. I won’t judge you.