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July 31, 2014

PlayStation Now Goes Open Beta for Rental, Streaming Gaming


One the great maxims of gaming; without the games, the hardware is just a pricey paperweight. But now, PlayStation 4 (PS4) users are about to get access to plenty more in the way of games than might have been expected, and Microsoft might have some reason to get very concerned. It's PlayStation Now, and the service has just entered live beta, offering up an impressive library of games users can rent and stream, with updates on the way directly to be added fairly frequently.

Users will have several options when it comes to putting PlayStation Now to use; games can be rented—rather, access to said games can be rented—for seven, 30, or 90 days. Some releases will come with a four-hour rental option only, depending on the title. Trophy support, as well as cloud-based save options, online multiplayer where available, and downloadable content will also be on hand, and reports suggest that Sony is looking into a version of PlayStation Now where users pay a subscription fee for access to the gaming.

While it's currently available for PS4, other devices will be getting the service soon as well, at last report; some breeds of Sony smart television will have access, as well as PlayStation TV, PlayStation Vita, and even PlayStation 3 models. There was also a suggestion that, as for the European release, the U.K would have first dibs, followed up by the remainder of the European Union.

This kind of setup may well have been what Microsoft originally envisioned happening for the Xbox One, though where Microsoft planned to pull the plug on everything else, Sony is leaving it open as an available option. The idea of streaming games has been a popular one for some time; with the success of Netflix prompting many to wonder if that can be done for movies, then why not for games? Indeed, it's really not a bad idea, though it will depend largely on ultimate performance. If the system requires a connection speed too fast for many to use, or pulls too much bandwidth, it may not in the end even be worth considering. This is also a beta version, so further refinements may be on the way, and judging this too harshly too soon may ultimately be counterproductive. But at its roots, it's a clever enough idea, and one that's been suggested for other platforms recently. EA is doing something similar with its EA Access program—it's doing that over on Xbox One, more specifically—and there have been calls for Nintendo to do likewise with its massive library of older content. Opening those particular floodgates may well drive some business for the beleaguered Wii U system, a development that Nintendo sorely needs to see happen.

Only time will tell just how well this actually works in terms of getting games into users' hands, but one thing is quite clear: we may be looking at the beginning of a sea change here in gaming, one in which games are less available on disc and more available online. Sony may have the right idea in making the change a more gradual one, and that could be the biggest blow to Microsoft yet.




Edited by Maurice Nagle

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