Would you pay $50 to rent F1 2013 for 90 days?
We threw this question around the office asked a panel of experts, and the sum of the answers we received can be summed up in the picture below:
Let's not mince words here: PlayStation Now has emerged into open beta, and its prices are still ludicrously expensive.
It's sort of refreshing that Sony still have the capacity to screw up royally. We'd wondered if the PS4's plain sailing had meant the end for hilarious/terrible gaffes from Sony, but no. We just had to wait is all. Kotaku's Jason Schreier did a little more digging (we've sadly been unable to explore PS Now ourselves as its still only available Stateside at the moment...mind, you, that might be a blessing) and was not impressed with the results he found:
Too rich for your blood? You could try 90 days of NASCAR 14 for $39.99, or 90 days of Dirt 3for $26.99. Codemasters' Grid 2 comes in at the relatively affordable $22.99—also for 90 days.
What if you're not in the mood for a racing game? What if, say, you want to rent a nice meaty RPG? You could try Deus Ex: Revolution, which comes in at $29.99 for 90 days, $14.99 for 30 days, $6.99 for seven days, and $4.99 for four hours.
Or, if you're feeling like some stealth action, you could rent Metal Gear Solid 4 at $14.99 for 90 days, $12.99 for 30 days, $7.99 for seven days, and $3.99 for four hours.
The word beta is still relevant here, so that's something, right? Right?
Well, only if Sony get their heads out of their collective arses and instead put their rears into gear. To that end, they are doing something. They're lowering the entry barrier on certain games to $2.
"One of those things that we heard about was we received some critical feedback around certain price points as you're very familiar with," said PlayStation Now senior director Jack Buser. "As a direct result of that feedback, we're gonna soon introduce titles starting at $1.99. We hope this offers users a wider range of price points to choose from, and we encourage our testers to continue to tell us about what their experience is with every aspect of the service."
That's a direct invitation to scream about these absurdly dear prices until you're blue in the face. Here's some direct feedback, Mr Buser: paying $50 to rent a game for 90 days when you can buy the same game for a fraction of the price is downright insane. PlayStation Now games are far too expense to be viable right now.
Here's another bit of feedback: even EA know what people want, how is it that you're not getting this? I couldn't give a rhino's fart about an a la carte rental service. We haven't had such things for a very long time, and quite why Sony seem insistent on peddling an archaic model rather than giving us the All-We-Can-Eat Subscription Service Of Ultimate Victory that we're all craving in this post-Netflix world is unfathomable. Sony kicked EA back through the revolving doors when it came to potentially putting EA Access on the PS4, and cited a lack of value as the reason. But taking a look at the state of PS Now runs the risk of making Sony's views on value appear rather laughable.
Supposedly the subscription option is coming, though I can't believe that Sony didn't iron out the kinks on this before unveiling PS Now in the first place.
"We are looking for the subscription offering to complement our rental offering," Buser told Schreier. "We believe both options provide gamers the freedom to discover and play games in a way that weren't previously possible before."
This is the sort of crap I'd expect from EA. It's the Battlefield 4 approach -- have a great idea, release it half-baked, slowly fix and rebalance the broken bits over the course of the next year while sitting on a throne of money made from early buyers. But EA Access arrived on Xbox One this week with a rather fair-seeming subscription plan, even if there are questions over the long-term content of the service. It's far from perfect, but it works and doesn't make us howl with laughter at its value proposition at the moment.
Sony need to be less stubborn with this than they were with the also absurdly overpriced Vita memory cards or else PS Now will go the same way -- adopted by a tiny proportion of the gaming audience -- and ultimately prove to be a big fat waste of money for everyone concerned.