PlayStation Now began its life in 2014 primarily as a streaming service, a way to play a bunch of games without having to download them to your PS4. It has since morphed into a bit of a hybrid service that allows hundreds of games to be downloaded directly to your console. As far as subscription services go, it needs to offer a lot more if it wants to stay relevant because Microsoft is killing it with Xbox Game Pass.
Sony's approach to PlayStation Now seems to be outright neglect, and it's in desperate need of an overhaul. PlayStation boss Jim Ryan says that the company wants to expand its existing ecosystem, but everything it's done in regards to PlayStation Now is antithetical to that.
Bottom line: As a standalone service, it's good. But I have to compare it to similar services that came before and after. Microsoft's Xbox Game Pass is its direct competition, and when you stack the two up, PlayStation Now is just painfully ok. It's not keeping up with market demands.
- Over 800 games
- Only $60/year
- Games available to stream and download
- Most games are older
- Exclusives don't launch into it
- Only available in 19 countries
- Streaming not supported through Remote Play on mobile
PlayStation Now: Price and availability
PlayStation Now is available in 19 regions across the world. It can be purchased at 1-month, 3-month, and 12-month intervals for $10, $25, and $60, respectively, with a 7-day free trial, offered to new users. Game availability, including whether or not you can stream or download a particular game, may depend on what region you are in. Unlike Xbox Game Pass Ultimate, PlayStation Now is not bundled with PlayStation Plus in any way.
PlayStation Now regions:
- United Kingdom
- United States
The service is available on PS4, PS5, and PC, though games can't be downloaded on PC, only streamed. You also don't need a PlayStation Plus membership to play online multiplayer in games you get through PlayStation Now.
PlayStation Now: Games and software
PlayStation Now has a growing library of over 800 games, most of which are from the PS4, but it also offers classics from PS3 and PS2 as well. Some of the best PS Now games include popular PlayStation exclusives like Uncharted 3, The Last of Us, and Bloodborne, along with third-party games like Fallout 4, Borderlands 3, and a lot more. Despite being big names, you'll notice that these are relatively older games, and that's because new releases generally don't launch into PlayStation Now like they do in Xbox Game Pass. That means — like me — you've probably already played the ones you're interested in. That's not exactly ideal.
PlayStation Now has growing library of over 800 games.
What's also strange is that PS Now appears to be actively blocking the PS5 versions of games. Subscribers quickly noticed that despite having free next-gen upgrades, only the PS4 versions of Marvel's Avengers and Borderlands 3 could be downloaded through PS Now. Apparently, that free upgrade path has been disabled when a game is downloaded through the subscription service. It seems to be an unnecessarily restrictive choice.
Considering new releases don't come to PS Now, the library has a good mix of AAA and indie titles. Where I think it could improve is the amount of time some of these AAA titles are available. Games like God of War and Uncharted 4 were briefly available in the service for a few months back in 2019. In my opinion, exclusives like that should be available indefinitely once they're added.
PlayStation Now: Streaming
Out of the over 800 titles in its library, only 300+ are available to download directly to your PS4 or PS5. And if you want to play any of these games on PC, you'll have to stream them. Sony's streaming capabilities aren't the best, but they have gotten exponentially better over the years (and Sony partnered with Microsoft to develop cloud streaming tech in 2019).
If you're playing games on a console, I would highly recommend downloading them instead of streaming them. You're guaranteed to get better performance that way. Since that isn't an option on PC, you'll just want to be aware of your internet connection and bandwidth. Sony recommends a minimum download speed of 5 Mbps to stream PS Now games.
|CPU||Intel Core i3-7100U @ 2.4 GHz|
|GPU||Integrated Intel HD Graphics 620|
|Memory||8 GB DDR4|
|Hard drive||1 TB 5400 rpm|
I decided to test out a few games on PC, two of which were Prey and Doom. I figured that gave me a good barometer for how it handles fast-paced action and slower stealth sequences. For reference, I was using my HP Notebook from 2017, which is above PlayStation Now's minimum recommended specs for streaming.
While I also have a Razer Blade laptop, I felt it was best to test PS Now on a laptop with specs closer to what most people would have. Not everyone can go out and spend over $1,000 on a new Razer Blade. That said, I do have Gigabit internet through Verizon Fios, so I am at an advantage there when it comes to bandwidth.
A couple of times, my streaming quality would take a hit if I wanted to open up a browser on my second monitor to check something, but when I just had PS Now open and the game running, it worked smoothly. There was very little input lag in the games I played, which was a huge plus in Doom. That title thrives on its fast-paced, chaotic action. Input lag would ruin that experience.
Keep in mind that while you can start a game on a console and pick up where you left off on a PC, you'll need PlayStation Plus to do so. You can transfer your saves via cloud storage, and this must be done on the console itself first. However, you don't need PS Plus to play online multiplayer with PS Now.
PlayStation Now: PlayStation Now hub
What I think is an underappreciated feature is the PlayStation Now hub on PS5. It's all too easy to gloss over how a storefront is presented to you, but that presentation matters a great deal. It's incredibly intuitive to navigate the PS Now hub, and I love how it's separated by different sections. You can view games recently added, games based on your gameplay of other titles, games by genre (RPG, action-adventure, etc.), games by mechanics (co-op, open world, etc.), exclusives (PS4, PS3, PS2), and which games are downloadable.
Within all of these categories, you can sort by genre, platform, and age rating. If you're looking to see what the most popular games are, you can search for those too. And, of course, you can search by simply typing in the name of the game you're looking for into the search bar.
Everything about the PlayStation Now hub on PS5 looks clean and is presented in a clear way that makes it a pleasure to use. I have no complaints here.
As much as I love the hub on console, I can't say the same for its app on PC. The way the app is designed makes it difficult to find the games you're looking for. You'll just need to endlessly scroll down through different categories before finding an alphabetized list. Frankly, it looks ugly, especially compared to the console implementation.
Thankfully, there is an area that displays your most recently played games and any games you've added to your list to keep track of. This definitely makes it easier to quickly find games you've found already, but that initial search can be a slog. There's no search bar to type in the name of a particular game you want to play.
Compared to its console hub, PS Now on PC almost seems like an afterthought from Sony, and that's a shame because the streaming quality is pretty good.
PlayStation Now: Competition
PlayStation Now's biggest competitor is undoubtedly Xbox Game Pass. While both services are exclusives to their respective consoles, they're also both available on PC. It's on PC where PS Now actually has an advantage as all of its 800+ games can be streamed. Xbox Game Pass for PC only has 100+ titles.
As for everything that each service offers, Xbox Game Pass blows the competition out of the water. Not only does it come with EA Play at no extra cost, but all Xbox published games launch into it the same day they release at retail — and sometimes third-party games as well, like Outriders and MLB The Show 21. And Xbox Game Pass Ultimate includes Cloud streaming to mobile devices. If you want to stream PS Now games through Remote Play on mobile, you can't. Sony doesn't allow it.
When it comes to discounts, Xbox Game Pass members can save up to 20% off select games in the Xbox Game Pass library and up to 10% off related game add-ons. PlayStation Now has no equivalent discount program.
PlayStation Now: Should you buy it?
You should buy this if ...
- You want access to hundreds of games immediately
- You want to play some of Sony's best exclusives
- You want to stream games on PC
You shouldn't buy this if...
- You want to play brand-new games
- You want to download games to PC
- You want to stream on mobile devices
A couple of years ago, I would have advised against buying PlayStation Now. Back in 2019, it had cost $20/month or $100/year. Those prices have since been slashed to $10/month or $60/year. While I still can't say it's worth it on a monthly basis, you should pick up a 12-month PS now membership. The games may be a bit older, but $60 for unlimited access to hundreds of titles is an insane deal.
But when you compare it to Xbox Game Pass, it becomes painfully clear how neglected, and pitiful PS Now is. It has an advantage on PC by offering more games, but it can't beat the sheer value of Xbox Game Pass.
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