It’s hard to believe, but PlayStation Now has been available for over five years across a variety of platforms. Yet Sony’s cloud streaming service hasn’t caught on with the general public. Designed more as complementary service for console gamers than a full service streaming option, it’s currently not as ambitious of a concept as Microsoft xCloud, Google Stadia, or Shadow.
Still, PlayStation Now is expected to be a big part of Sony’s future as the PS4’s lifecycle winds down and the PlayStation 5 takes over. Here’s everything you need to know about PlayStation Now, a cloud streaming service that could very well be right for you now and in the future as it continues to evolve.
What is PlayStation Now?
PlayStation Now is a cloud gaming subscription service for PS4 and PC that lets subscribers stream select PS4, PS3, and PC games. Previously, you could also stream games from the service on PS3, PlayStation Vita, certain smart TVs, and Sony Blu-ray players. However, only PS4 and PC support is currently available.
Like most streaming services, PlayStation Now has varying quality when it comes to streaming. As of now, you are locked to 720p resolution while streaming, so you aren’t getting the same picture quality you’d get natively.
Sony recommends you have at least a 5 Mbps internet connection to stream. That’s a low figure that doesn’t equate to the best performance. Ideally, you’ll want to be closer to 15 Mbps to stream without buffering or annoying lag.
Stream or download games
Though PlayStation Now is a cloud streaming service, PS4 users can take advantage of a more stable option. Most of the PS4 and PS2 games offered in the PlayStation Now library can be downloaded on your PS4 console, which means you’ll get performance on par with what you’d get with a retail copy of the game. PS3 games cannot be downloaded. Sony attributes this to the system architecture of the PS3, which was notorious for being hard to develop for.
PC subscribers cannot download games. While disappointing, this makes sense since some PlayStation exclusives are available in the service. Also, Sony would probably have to worry about people tinkering with and modding games if they could be downloaded.
PlayStation Now library
At this time, PlayStation Now has a steadily growing library comprised of more than 750 games across three generations of Sony consoles. Unlike Xbox Game Pass, PlayStation Now doesn’t typically offer up brand new games to subscribers. Still, the library includes some of the best Sony games in recent years.
For PS3, you can play Borderlands 2, The Sly Collection, The Last of Us, the Uncharted trilogy, the God of War trilogy, the BioShock trilogy, a bunch of Ratchet & Clank games, and many others.
The PS2 list is much smaller than the other two, but you can stream and download gems such as Dark Cloud, Harvest Moon: A Wonderful Life, Red Faction, Wild Arms 3, and Rogue Galaxy.
PlayStation Now features a great mix of genres and has plenty of games that will appeal to both adults and kids. Roughly 300 of the PS4/PS2 games can be downloaded if you’re playing on PS4. For the full list of games available with the service, check here.
For PC subscribers
If you don’t have a PS4, you’ll need to connect a gamepad to your PC to use PlayStation Now. You can use a DualShock 4 or DualShock 3 to remain authentic to the Sony experience, or you can use any controller compatible with XInput. This includes the Xbox One controller and most third-party controllers that connect either wired or wirelessly to your PC.
PlayStation Now’s future
Prior to E3 2019, Sony Interactive Entertainment CEO Jim Ryan told CNET that PlayStation Now will become a larger focal point by the end of 2019. It’s also going to be a big part of Sony’s future, which means the PlayStation 5. Considering that a slew of other streaming services are on the horizon, Sony is understandably dedicating more resources to evolving PlayStation Now. It appears PlayStation Now will be heavily featured when Sony officially unveils the PS5.
According to a document presented at the 2019 investor relations meeting, Sony plans on getting PlayStation Now to “1080p and beyond.” The beyond most likely means 4K. In addition to the upgrade in performance, Sony wants to increase the appeal of the service for those who don’t own a PlayStation console. It’s too early to say what this means, but other streaming services are and will be supporting more than just PC. Perhaps PlayStation Now will eventually expand to smartphones and tablets.
That might even mean that Sony has plans for a separate streaming device existing in tandem with the PlayStation 5.
Subscription price and availability
PlayStation Now is available to try for free on PS4 and PC for seven days. After the trial, you can choose between one of three subscription models. You can go month-by-month for $20, three months for $45 ($15/month), or spend $100 to get a yearly subscription (roughly $8/month). The yearly subscription rate is obviously the way to go if you like the service after the trial. For eight bucks per month, you get access to more than 750 games, many of which hail from some of Sony’s flagship franchises. That’s pretty great value.
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