Earlier this week at the 2014 Consumer Electronics, Sony announced its cloud gaming service PlayStation Now and provided brief details regarding it. The ability to play original PlayStation, PlayStation 2, and PlayStation 3 games from a PlayStation 4, Vita, smartphone, tablet, or HDTV set is a spectacular and appealing concept. PS Now is filled with the potential to change the gaming landscape and provide the easiest way to experience some of the best creations in the medium. Nevertheless, there are plenty of hurdles Sony will need to overcome in order to make its own take on cloud gaming a success. Here are five key things PS Now needs to succeed.
What’s a widespread annoyance online multiplayer gamers have faced for years? Lag, which cloud gaming is still more than susceptible to. The milliseconds of delay caused by the input from your controller traveling to a server and that server streaming back your game’s video and audio can mean life or death for your on-screen character. Gamers desire the upmost responsiveness when it comes to their interactive experiences. Personally, I do not regularly use the Remote Play feature to play PS4 games on my Vita due to the noticeable lag from devices mere meters away. At this year's CES, press outlets confirm PS Now works, yet has a small perceivable delay despite servers located down the hall. With that in mind, I find it troubling to think how the latency can possibly be reduced while on a PS Now-compatible device hundreds or thousands of miles away from Sony’s servers.
Google. Facebook. Netflix. All three are successful Internet connected services that almost never go down. That dependability has led to high retention and trust from their users. In Google’s case, thousands of people work on documents and projects important to them on the site’s cloud-based Drive. If PS Now fails to be available on multiple occurrences, gamers will become frustrated and wary of returning to use it. Consumers are significantly more likely to share a negative experience than a positive one. Additionally, at stake is not only Sony’s reputation, but public opinion of cloud gaming, as PS Now will be many people’s first interaction with that type of technology. PS Now must be a reliable service in order to attract and retain customers.
Strong Third-Party Support
Plenty of fantastic first-party games were crafted for PlayStation platforms over the years. However, many of PlayStation’s most iconic exclusive titles were produced by third parties and Sony needs to aggressively pursue support from those publishers. Drawing in fans of classic third-party franchises and games will be an easy way to build a user base for PS Now. A library of PlayStation hits would not feel complete without games from defining franchises such as Final Fantasy, Metal Gear Solid, Spyro the Dragon, Crash Bandicoot, Dragon Quest, Silent Hill, and more.
Netflix is often looked to as the poster child of a successful cloud-based entertainment service and its streaming subscription’s price of $7.99 per month is a major attribute to their success. PS Now’s specific game rentals should be priced to undercut the cost at competing venues like Redbox. Meanwhile, the sweet spot for the subscription to the library of titles would be $10 or less per month, as evidenced by movie and television streaming services. Sony should reward PlayStation Plus subscribers by offering discounted rates on PS Now as well.
Focus on Library Subscriptions, Not Rentals
Lastly, more people will be drawn to PS Now if it focuses on an all-you-can-play subscription to a robust library of games, not specific rentals of titles. Netflix provides tremendous value to subscribers by making the primary cost in deciding to play a certain movie or TV episode their time rather than a monetary cost if each video was priced individually. Services providing a buffet of TV shows, films, music, or books proved to be a popular liberating experience in the past years so why should PlayStation games not follow suit?
What points do you agree or disagree with? What else can Sony do to ensure the success of PS Now? Let us know in the comments below and keep checking back to PSU for everything PlayStation.