Upgrading to a new console gives you access to a new world of games, but it can be hard to say goodbye to those old favorite titles. With PlayStation Now, you won’t have to! In 2015, PlayStation will be offering a video streaming service to users of any compatible device, starting with the PlayStation 4.
Offering hundreds of PlayStation games on a per rental or subscription service, PS Now is fast, flexible and a great way to access old titles even after you’ve upgraded to the PS4. If you’ve been wondering if you’ll see PlayStation 4 backward compatibility any time soon, PlayStation Now is the answer you’ve been searching for.
In addition to the launch on the PlayStation 4 console, PlayStation Now is coming to a whole range of different devices, from the PS Vita to Sony’s Smart televisions. You’ll be able to access your rented games, your saves and more, right from the PS Now cloud storage system. From online functionality to cost and performance, we’re taking a look at PlayStation Now and what it will offer gamers.
Whether you own a PlayStation console or not, you could soon be enjoying hundreds of great PS titles: All you need is a TV and a compatible controller!
Is this backward compatibility for PlayStation 4?
With Microsoft announcing in June that the Xbox One will play 360 games, all eyes are on Sony to produce a similar PS4 backward compatibility proclamation. Don’t expect to be putting your PS3 discs in the PS4, though; Sony has been working in a whole different direction. When it comes to backplaying games on the Xbox, even Shuhei Yoshida himself admitted he “hadn’t thought it was possible.” Indeed, the One’s 360 emulator has taken the gaming world by complete surprise.
So is PlayStation Now the equivalent of PlayStation 4 backward compatibility? You will be able to access PlayStation 3 titles through it, and eventually PlayStation, PS2 and Portable games will be added. If you’ve owned a game before, you can now play it again.
To this end, PS Now is a backward compatibility feature; however, that’s where the similarity ends. PlayStation Now is not an emulator for your already-owned games. It’s a library of hundreds of PlayStation titles, all available to stream and play on a flexible rental basis.
What is PlayStation Now?
The team at Sony has put together a library of some of the PlayStation 3’s most-loved games, with a wide selection across all genres to offer something for everyone. The games can be rented on an individual basis, or you can subscribe to the service for unlimited access to all titles. There are flexible rental periods to suit you; you can choose a game for just four hours, all the way up to 90 days.
The service works by streaming the game directly to your display in real time. Meanwhile, your controller sends your inputs to the game engine. This feels just the same as playing from a disc, but you don’t fill up your PlayStation 4 hard drive storage space and can change games as often as you like. It’s a new way to play games, and has a lot of potential.
Even Xbox and PC gamers will be able to get in on the action when the new wave of PS Now compatible devices launch. From Sony and Samsung televisions to Blu-ray players, you won’t even need a PlayStation console to join in the fun. There’s going to be plenty of ways for you to access the PS Now collection and play the games you love.
Who can access PlayStation Now?
The new service was first announced in 2014, following Sony’s purchase of video streaming software provider Gaikai. Originally beta tested by players in North America with much success, the service has been opened up to European and worldwide gamers. There are currently over 350 titles for you to play today, and many more are expected in the future.
At the moment, PlayStation Now is available to PlayStation 4 owners and offers PS3 titles. In the future, the service is coming to a range of devices and aims to offer PlayStation, PlayStation 2 and PlayStation Portable games. A premium tier service may even bring new PS4 games into the mix, and plans are in place to bring PS Now to the PlayStation 3.
The service will be available as a seven-day free trial, allowing anyone who is interested to take a look and decide if it suits them. Moving forward, you can either sign up for monthly billing to get unlimited access, or you can simply choose titles on an individual rental basis, for a time period of your choosing. This gives you the chance to try out new games before committing to a purchase.
How long can games be rented for?
The unlimited subscription package will give you access to all the games in the library, all of the time. You’ll be able to play as much as you like; all you need is a reliable connection, a supported device, and a suitable controller. Individual rentals are a little more complicated—you’ll need to decide if you want a taste of the game over a few hours, a week to try it out or a full 90-day rental to get the whole experience.
The prices for rental vary according to the time chosen. Be wary when choosing, though—there’s currently no feature to extend your rental period, so you’ll need to wait out your time and then purchase a new session if you want more hours of gameplay. On the plus side, your time only begins when you first start to play the game, so you don’t need to get started as soon as you’ve made your purchase.
How much will PS Now cost?
Reactions to the announced pricing structure are mixed, and there are PlayStation users who feel it should come down a little before they’ll give it a go. As service use becomes more widespread it may be that the price gets lowered, though rental rates are fixed by developers and will probably always be subject to variations in price as a result.
Video – Does PlayStation Now Cost Too Much?
The example rate below gives you an idea of how the prices will work for games at the lower end:
- 4 hours – $2.99
- 7 days – $3.99
- 30 days – $5.99
- 90 days – $7.99
With some titles reaching $7.99 just for the first week, there are some big differences in the game prices at the moment. On the other hand, subscription rates are set at $19.99 for one month or a discounted $44.99 for three months, so if you get plenty of use out of your plan you could really get some value from the service. If you’re less likely to use the service consistently or often, you might be better with the pay-as-you-go option.
What will you need to play the games?
At the moment, the PlayStation Now service is available for users of the PlayStation 4 console and is undergoing beta testing on other systems. In the future, the service will be rolled out across Smart televisions in the Sony range as well as in some models by Samsung. Selected Blu-ray players will also have the capability to play. PlayStation Vita will have PS Now capability in future updates, and all devices will be manufactured to offer DualShock 3 or 4 compatibility.
There is also work ongoing to allow universal controllers or even touch screen devices to function as a controller, but for now, only the official DualShock inputs are supported. As long as you have a device that can receive PS Now, a reliable Internet connection and a controller, you can stream and play any game in the PlayStation Now collection.
Which Internet connection you use is important, and Sony advises to use no less than 5Mbps speed for optimal performance. Wireless connections are not recommended because of the potential for a connection drop-out, although users of the service report no issues when using their own Wi-Fi to play the games. If you’re in an area with great Internet, your Wi-Fi should work just fine—though perhaps you should save regularly just in case the signal goes! Where possible, use an Ethernet connection and you’re less likely to encounter disruption while you’re enjoying your game.
What games are available for PS Now?
There’s some amazing content already available in the library, with plenty more being added over the coming years. In the future, we can expect games right back to the original PlayStation days, but right now the focus is on PS3 games. This is great news for anyone who’s upgraded to the PlayStation 4, especially if you’ve traded in your games. Now you’ll be able to enjoy your favorite PS3 content on your PS4 without the need for two consoles and two sets of games.
There’re some classic titles in the list. From Command and Conquer to House of the Dead, and from Mass Effect 2 to Twisted Metal, the games you love are back for you to enjoy time and again. Streaming quality compares favorably to disc play, and there’s little to call between the two: it’s the same PS3 experience, but on your new console for convenience. Other titles you’ll be able to enjoy again are Batman: Arkham City, Ninja Gaiden, Dead Island and Bioshock Infinite. With these and many, many more available, you’ll be spoiled for choice.
With so many games on offer, PlayStation Now is a great choice for anyone with limited space, physically or digitally. You don’t need to worry about keeping discs and downloads; you can access any game you like from the PS Now library whenever you feel like playing it.
How will game saves work through PS Now?
Whether you’re playing for a few hours or you’re giving a game 90 days of your attention, you’ll probably want to save it at some point and give yourself the option of continuing. Saving your game will add the file to your PlayStation Now cloud—great if your connection fails, or if you want to come back to a game you’ve trialed for a few hours.
Looking to continue a PS3 title you owned before? If you’ve played a game on your PlayStation 3 previously and you still have the saved games, you can upload those saves to your PS Now cloud space and will be able to pick up where you left off. Swapping files between the cloud and your hard drive is simple and allows you to free up storage, or to create a back-up of your cloud games.
You can also add to your PlayStation trophies through the rental games, as anything you earn will be flagged, and those you’ve already achieved will be available to view. Playing PS Now titles will feel just the same as it always did, and all your hard work in previous games will still count when you’re streaming the game.
Will online and multiplayer features work?
There’s no reason you can’t enjoy all the games just as you always have. Local and online multiplayer services can be used within any of the titles you rent, so in theory you can experience the game in just the same way that you always have.
Of course, any participant with a bad connection can cause the game to slow for everyone, and relying on simultaneous streaming feeds is sure to have some difficulties—at least in the early days. Plus, you’ve got to hope that others are still playing online; older titles may not draw the same crowds they used to. Old favorites may see an online resurgence through PS Now, and lesser known titles will still give the same offline fun they always have.
What does the future look like for PlayStation Now?
As a paid subscription or pay-as-you-play model, PlayStation Now is sure to face some difficulties thanks to Xbox One’s free backward compatibility feature, announced at E3 2015 to the great surprise of many—including Sony. If the Xbox One lets players use their old 360 titles through an emulator for free, surely PlayStation can’t charge people for essentially the same feature?
However, PlayStation Now is very different from backward compatibility, and isn’t only for the discs and downloads you already have. If you want to play a 360 title you don’t own, you first need to buy a copy or pay for the download. Even then, if the game doesn’t support 360 compatibility, you won’t be able to use it on your Xbox One. On the other hand, PlayStation Now opens up a huge range of PlayStation games, so you can play old games you’ve owned as well as games you missed the first time around.
If you’ve already owned a game, paying again to rent it may seem frustrating. But if you’re a subscriber with unlimited access, that game is just one of many you can dip in and out of as you please. That’s a lot of flexibility and freedom. The games are good, too—from Dirt 3 and Deus Ex to Uncharted and The Sims 3, everyone will find something they enjoy in the collection.
Playing without a console is a game-changer as well. Although the most likely users will be PlayStation players, it’s possible that users of other gaming systems could be enticed to try out some of the PlayStation Now titles. Most especially, it gives PC and Xbox users a chance to try out PS exclusives they missed.
By adding PlayStation Now to Smart televisions and other devices, casual gamers don’t need to commit to a console. It may even boost PlayStation 4 consoles, winning over new fans who didn’t know PlayStation was for them.
It looks like Sony is making changes to the way we get our games and the freedom we have to explore new ones. Almost a decade ago now, Netflix changed the way we watch movies and TV forever with unlimited streaming of quality content. Could PlayStation Now be about to do the same for gaming?
With over 350 titles at your fingertips, you’ll never be stuck for something to play. If the streaming works well even once traffic starts to build, PlayStation Now is sure to pick up plenty of subscribers and casual renters.
90's girl with a love of retro games and old school consoles - currently in the market for a working Commodore 64...
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