Login | Signup

COMMENT | Sony's continued digital failure: PS Now's beta pricing is astonishingly awful

Author:
Matt Gardner
Category:
Features
Tags:
Gaikai, PlayStation Now, PS Vita games, PS Vita TV, PS3 games, Sony, Streaming

COMMENT | Sony's continued digital failure: PS Now's beta pricing is astonishingly awful

We've been cautiously excited about the prospect of PlayStation Now. When Sony bought out Gaikai, the purchase set tongues wagging and fingers tapping away at keyboards across the world. Could we expect a subscription streaming service? Would Sony deliver a PlayStation experience much in the same way that OnLive had been trying with varying levels of success? Back in January at CES 2014, PS Now was finally unveiled, although details were thin on the ground.

Now, however, the PS Now beta has gone live in the US, and there are some rather worrying signs indeed to suggest that the service might struggle to gain traction.

It all begins with the pricing. Given the generosity of PlayStation Plus, we were rather hoping for a premium tier to be added on top of the basic subscription or something along those lines -- an affordable, option-stuffed route to enjoying PlayStation titles across a range of devices. As for the reality, well,. there are certainly options, but you probably won't like any of them. For starters, there is no general subscription for the service -- games are "rented" on an hourly, weekly, monthly, or quarterly basis. However, Sony aren't curating the pricing themselves, they're apparently allowing third-parties to sort that out for their own games, and with developers and publishers themselves setting the prices, it's all gotten a little bit ridiculous.

Game Informer produced a handy little chart showcasing the beta pricing for a range of titles, and comparing that with a retail price point obtained via Amazon and GameStop, and the PSN purchase price where applicable

COMMENT | Sony's continued digital failure: PS Now's beta pricing is astonishingly awful

There are a number of things to notice straight away, not least that some of the 90-day rental prices match or even exceed the asking price to buy the games outright on PSN. While it's true that PS Now does come with some added benefits, such as being able to play supported games across PS3, PS Vita, PS4, and PlayStation-enabled Sony TVs, alongside account-based cloud saving to allow for one game to continue across those multiple devices, these prices seem seriously steep.

COMMENT | Sony's continued digital failure: PS Now's beta pricing is astonishingly awful

he four-hour rental window is absolutely laughable, particularly when you consider that there's a negligible gap in many cases between the price for that initial tier, and the price for a 7-day rental period. There is no way that four hours with a game like Deus Ex: Human Revolution of Final Fantasy XIII is going to cut the mustard and give the players concerned significant bang for their bucks at all.

But the pricing is really a symptom of a much larger issue. We expected a subscription service (potentially one with individual rentals as an option) because that's what we've seen across the other entertainment mediums. You take a look at Netflix and NowTV and Amazon Prime and you have choices, particularly with the latter where you have a subscription model supported by individual rental prices should consumers not want to be tied into anything. Speaking personally, I have to say that I buy far fewer DVDs and boxsets now that we live in a streaming-dominated age, and I haven't bought a music album in two years because of initiatives such as Spotify and Sony's own Music Unlimited.

Content-subscriptions are not perfect by any means, but they are at least consumer-oriented. In the music and film/TV industries, companies taken heed of the desire for digital convenience and engineered services that capitalise upon that, offering access to wide-ranging libraries at a recurring monthly rate that doesn't break the bank and often offering purchasing opportunities as well. Set against a present where such things have been standard for several years now, a digital rental service seems archaic. PlayStation Now, much like most Xbox/PSN digital pricing, seems caught in limbo between trying to service consumers and attempting to appease the old retail gods and seemingly avaricious publishers inflating prices just because they can.

COMMENT | Sony's continued digital failure: PS Now's beta pricing is astonishingly awful

It also seems like a massive missed opportunity on Sony's part to have failed to integrate PS Now with PS Plus. It is to be hoped that we don't see the quality of the Instant Game Collection and PS Plus discounts decrease just because PS Now exists.

Back in January, Sony declared that a subscription option would be coming:

We want to offer you choice when it comes to how you want to access content on PS Now, so you will be able to rent by title for specific games you are interested in. We’ll also offer a subscription that will enable you to explore a range of titles.

But I find it staggering that Sony would release a version of PS Now into the wild looking so utterly unbalanced, even if it is a beta. The fact that you have to put down money to test out the service is somewhat reprehensible to begin with -- we're absolutely not fans of paid betas -- but it baffles me that Sony would debut a streaming service that they spent $380 million on to acquire without what would surely be its flagship pricing model, presenting rental prices that are ludicrously inflated at best, and downright disingenuous at worst.

Things can still change, of course, that's one of the advantages of having a beta. But this is the first big test for Sony now that the PS4 has been released. It's one thing to say that they're listening, but whether or not they'll actually act and make PS Now a viable proposition rather than the rather unfunny joke it first appears to be will remain to be seen.

Add a comment17 comments
JonLester  Jun. 23, 2014 at 12:13

Madness. Yes, it's beta, so it's subject to change, but the entire thing seems futile without an all-in subscription/PS Plus tier, standardised pricing (third-parties will gouge up a storm) and an attempt to compete with just buying the game pre-owned.

The basic 4 hour window also seems pointless if not completely insulting. Four hours. Really? Amazed that 24 hours wasn't the lowest window at a similar price.

Four hours, though. Four. FOUR. With no middle ground between 240 minutes and 7 DAYS?!

Four shame,, Sony. It's doubly annoying because PSN pricing has been getting better over the last few years, especially on Vita.

Last edited by JonLester, Jun. 23, 2014 at 12:36
Late  Jun. 23, 2014 at 12:42

Dear me. The model seems bad, and the prices add insult to injury.
Deus Ex HR and FF-13 are fine examples. I'll ignore the 4 hour option. You're not likely to get out of the initial building of DXHR in that time, and you're not going to get much beyond cut scenes in the first few hours of ffxiii.
So you're looking at paying around £6 to access one of those games for a week. You could probably complete them in that time but you'd be missing LOADS.

Alternatively you could pick them up brand new for last gen consoles for about £10 or second hand for about £5.

Uh, thanks but no thanks Sony.

phil16  Jun. 23, 2014 at 13:19

Wow - did Sony do any market research at all. Crazy prices!
(I was sort of hoping they'd give PS+'ers access to games they already own for free - giving me access to PS3 games on my Vita but guess that was too much to hope for).

Can't see me using the service ever if that's what it costs...

TheChappy  Jun. 23, 2014 at 13:37

Thats something I wont ever be touching at those prices. Not that my internet connection could handle it anyway. Ill stick with pre owned for playing old titles on the cheap. I bought sleeping dogs for 4.99, ill keep it for as long as I want, finish it then sell it for 2 quid. So THREE pound to 'rent' it for as long as I want. Then you look at those prices and its laughable.

roberttaylor8273  Jun. 23, 2014 at 13:52

well after last years fantastic E3 it look like sony are back to there old ways, this is disgusting what are they smoking at sony, mind prices will be 10 times worse in europe. with any luck it will die a quick death. just looks like arrogance on sony's part with how well the ps4 is doing they now think they can do what they please, they need to remember what happened to microsoft with the xbox one last year.

the dreadful pricing of digital stuff has me thinking did i make the wrong choice with the ps4

Last edited by roberttaylor8273, Jun. 23, 2014 at 13:59
TheChappy  Jun. 23, 2014 at 15:23

well after last years fantastic E3 it look like sony are back to there old ways, this is disgusting what are they smoking at sony, mind prices will be 10 times worse in europe. with any luck it will die a quick death. just looks like arrogance on sony's part with how well the ps4 is doing they now think they can do what they please, they need to remember what happened to microsoft with the xbox one last year.

the dreadful pricing of digital stuff has me thinking did i make the wrong choice with the ps4


Amphetamine laced with LSD. At sony theyre smoking amphetamine laced with LSD, all of them. Maybe. Or maybe not. I dont know.

But yeah, crazy prices on PSN.

Late  Jun. 23, 2014 at 15:35

It's worth bearing in mind prices are a little more palatable if you can buy your Sony credit at less than face value (I'm assuming you can pay these rental fees with Sony credit).
Still horrendously overpriced, though.

kristianity77  Jun. 23, 2014 at 15:51

The thing is, we can all moan about it on here but if it comes across to these waters with that style of pricing then it will just fail. No one in their right mind would ever pay any of those prices for what are now typically, last gen, old games.

They should have spent that $380 million on getting in the worlds best programmers for a couple of years and rattling out near perfect emulators for PS1 and PS2 on the system at least which allow play of our old titles or at the very least, paid a price to OWN them digitally to run therefore on the ps4.

Also, seeing as the PS4 as of yet doesn't provide absolutely ANY media playback whatsoever, I can imagine that a lot of people are sat with a PS4 alongside their 360/PS3 so what does the streaming service offer to them that saves them money?

So many things wrong with this I cant see it ending in anything but total failure.

Last edited by kristianity77, Jun. 23, 2014 at 15:52
Zeipher  Jun. 23, 2014 at 16:40

Imagine the UK prices!

Late  Jun. 23, 2014 at 18:01

I'm still utterly astounded at the inclusion of a four hour rental.
The only reason I can see for such a short rental period is if they're perhaps considering having it as a free rental bracket. Play free for a few hours, and then maybe you'll be incented to pay to continue.

But then there's games like Limbo, where you could complete it for free if you had a free four hour window, so that wouldn't work.

I'm perplexed by this whole idea.

Last edited by Late, Jun. 23, 2014 at 18:02
Crazy Jamie  Jun. 23, 2014 at 19:08

I just don't get this. At all. When digital purchasing was introduced on PSN the prices were mostly clearly too high, often being higher than physical copies that can be sold on. Then again, it probably doesn't cost all that much relatively speaking to introduce what is a very standard feature online, so lower sales figures wouldn't be a concern.

But Sony spent a lot of money to acquire the platform for this service. It isn't just an afterthought, yet for the reasons that everybody has already mentioned this doesn't just look a bit rough around the edges, it is abysmally and extraordinarily nonsensical. I have no idea can come up with the genius that was and is PS Plus, and then come up with something like this. It is just astounding.

imdurc  Jun. 24, 2014 at 00:19

One word... BETA.

If people in the -BETA- report back during the -BETA- testing phase, Sony will listen to the feedback. Also, I'm sure I read that they're figuring out a subscription price, too.

Once more... BETA. I mean seriously, it's not even the final product, and yet most of the comments are about this being awful.

JonLester  Jun. 24, 2014 at 09:45

@imdurc: Normally I'd agree, but this isn't some placeholder price in a genuine beta. Sony are charging real people these sums right now - it's a soft launch rather than a beta.

And thus totally fair game for criticism. Sony aren't giving a totally-unlocked early build to a group of testers with the purpose of breaking the software and reporting bugs -- that has already happened -- rather they've opened the doors and are doing business.

Slightly OT: absolutely sick of companies crying "beta" yet still charging for content, MTs, early access etc. Betas need to test a game's economy to destruction before switching on the store.

Last edited by JonLester, Jun. 24, 2014 at 10:06
imdurc  Jun. 24, 2014 at 14:27

I think my point, like your initial comment also said, prices are subject to change. For anyone who's using the beta, you have a few choices; Pay and do whatever, don't use the service, don't pay and say nothing or, don't pay but let Sony know what you think.

As you yourself said, Jon, "it's beta, so it's subject to change".

However, the only way it can change, is with user input. I think that if people commenting here truly have something to say, they should let Sony know. That's the only way things can ever change.

Late  Jun. 24, 2014 at 14:58

Durr - Sony will get the message when they read this thread. ;)

imdurc  Jun. 24, 2014 at 15:15

Durr - Sony will get the message when they read this thread. ;)


You sent it to them?

Late  Jun. 24, 2014 at 15:22

If Kaz isn't a dealspwn regular I'll eat my hat.

Email Address:

You don't need an account to comment. Just enter your email address. We'll keep it private.