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July 31st 2014 7:47 pm

PlayStation Now: What it should look like.

PlayStation Now has just entered the open beta in the US & Canada for PS4 owners and the comments sections of every game review site have been littered with the outrage at the admittedly outrageous prices. The following is my attempt to illustrate what I believe the PS NOW service should actually look like in order to:
  1. Earn its place in the world
  2. Provide Outstanding Value to PlayStation Gamers and Gaming as a whole
  3. Innovate and break down expectations and traditional ways in a digital world
  4. Much more...
Please bear in mind that this will be a lengthy post so if you're too busy, maybe save it for the commute home.

Diving straight into things, Sony at the moment mistakenly believes that they have an infinite pool of people that would jump at PlayStation Now and be instantly in love with it. This is wrong. In fact there are only Three types of scenarios or people that would ever use PSNow:
  1. The Water Tester. This is the person who may or may not have a PS3. He's heard of all these great games on the PS3 platform and he would like to see if they are worth the money. He will use PSNow to test drive a game and then he will either purchase his own copy or if the game is short enough, he may decide to rent it for a longer period.
  2. The Casual Enthusiast. This person may or may not have previously sampled a game using the water testing method. He potentially does not have a PS3 to play that particular game he just fell in love with or he figures that he can finish the game and put it down all at a cheaper price to buying his own copy. i.e. If he does not have a PS3, buying that game would require an extra $200 investment that may not be justified as he's mostly a PS4 Game player.
  3. The Extended Play Aficionado. These guys will require a subscription model. They are the guys that do not have a PS3, play mostly PS4 games so cannot justify the investment, love the PS3 game library and will eventually enjoy PSNow's expansion onto other devices. This could include those that do not have a PS4 down the line as PSNow gets released for Vita & TVs.
Now that has been established. Here is the way PSNow should actually work:
  1. The Water Testing Option. This will be the option that most people will use and is therefore the one that should make the most sense. In this space, I will detail a few significant changes that need to be made across PSNow as a whole.
The first is, offer rentals in terms of game hours not real world hours. Why? Because real world hours are meaningless. I could take a week's rental and then have no time during that week to actually play the game much or at all. Then I'd have to pay another time for the same thing? That's archaic thinking. Game Hours allows me to guarantee that I actually get what I pay for. Sony can for example rent a game for 8 Game Hours + 1 Month Return Period. This would mean you can play for up to 8 Hours and have 1 month to do so.

Furthermore, prices should be standard for all game rentals. Make $2.99 standard as the cheapest option. Do not worry, we will tremendously increase the value of this proposition next.

The Water Testing Option should cost $2.99 and offer the following:
  • 24 Hours of Game Time or Up to 40% of the game Progress.
  • Whichever comes first.
  • 1 Month to play
Why? This allows sufficient time for the Water Tester to see if a game is worth buying and offers good value for the a la carte model that is PS Now. Also, you need to have both stipulations as some games can vary wildly. For example, The Last of Us can be clocked in under 15 Hours on Survivor Difficulty while exploring all of the game areas and collecting everything along the way. Skyrim on the other hand would take WAY longer than 24 hours to do everything you can do in it.

So someone who borrows a linear game such as: The Last of Us, Darksiders, Dishonored, will be restricted to 40% of that game's progress. Whereas someone who borrows an RPG or Open Sandbox game: Skyrim, Infamous Series, Assassin's Creed Series, will be limited by the 24 Game Hours.

Both offer plenty of influence to gauge whether a game is worth investing more money into.

2. The Casually Enthused Plan. This option should cost $10 per game and offer:
  • 200 Hours Game Time ( That's just over 8 days)
  • No restriction on the game progress with.
  • 3 Months to play.
The price for this option can be adjusted but it must still be low enough for people who will never pick up the game again once completed. This option offers even more value if the game has been recently launched and is a linear game.

For reference, TLOU would take you about 70 Hours to do all the playthroughs for every trophy and 20 Hours for the Multiplayer Trophy. This means to Platinum The Last of Us, you would need roughly 90 Hours game time and do so comfortably.

Assassin's Creed Typically takes about 20 Hours to complete the first playthrough and another 40 to Platinum ( Multiplayer included).

Dishonored takes about 80 Hours to Platinum. Mass Effect 2 takes about 70 Hours. Etc...

3. The Subscription Model. This option should cost up to $150 per year and offer:
  • Unlimited Game Rentals at no extra cost
  • No restrictions on Game Hours
  • No restrictions on Game Progress
Again, this option is most appealing to those who decide to forego the purchase of a separate PS3 and/or have missed out on a lot of great PS3 games and want to catch up.


The above action will only help PSNow to earn its place amongst us mortals with limited budgets. This does not however provide outstanding value. No, in order for PSNow to actually be amazing value (The way PS+ is), it will need to do a few more things right.
  1. Not be treated as a separate entity but tie into the PlayStation Ecosystem.
  2. Be Reliable, Fast and as Lag free as possible.
  3. Not add any other negative stipulations that will muddy the waters
  4. Offer up the entire PlayStation Game library including PS1 & PS2 classics
  5. Expand to the other platforms as soon as possible.
Most of the above is self explanatory but let me elaborate on the first point.
  • The Water Tester option should be a risk free trial period. This would mean that if you pay $2.99 for a game and are then tempted to buy it from the PS Store, it should credit you those $2.99 as long as you purchase within the original 1 Month period.
  • This would be only for the Water Testing Option. But I think you can all see how this makes perfect sense.
  • Deeper ties with PS+. If you have a PS+ subscription, then the games that are in the IGC should be free for you to stream with PSNow. And if you took a subscription just before a game hits the IGC then for the duration of its stay there, it will not count towards your game hours for the duration of its stay in the IGC. If you own a game through PS+, but it is no longer in the IGC, then PSNow would work as normal.
  • The above stipulations only benefit the Water Tester & Casual Enthusiast. The Extended play Aficionado should therefore receive a discount on PS+ with their PSNow subscription or a discount on PSNow if they are already a PS+ subscriber. If a Person has PS+, PSNow should cost about $125 per year. If a person is buying PSNow, then a bundle should be offered for PSNow + PS Plus at $175 per year.

In conclusion, doing all of the above will tremendously improve what is Playstation Now. Truly offer gamers an alternative and provide a shift in the gaming industry that should have happened five years ago. This new PSNow would cater to those who are more selective, with the a la carte model. As well as those who truly embrace game streaming the subscription model. It will better tie with other PlayStation Services such as the PS Store & PS+ for a true ecosystem experience. Finally, it will renew Sony's drive to innovate and put gamers first.

Sony, if you're reading this, put your gamers first and we will give you more money than you thought possible. We did it with the PS1, PS2 and are doing it with the PS4. Put us first and you'll receive all the rest.

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3 replies

Apologies for the few typos.
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I find the biggest problem with pricing plans like the one PlayStation Now has is that it assumes gamers have both time and money, when any gamer knows that it's more common to have one and not the other. The young have time to play games but no money to buy them with, and the old have money to buy games but no time to play them. This system is way too restrictive for the latter group. The former group? Depends on how much free time they have, I guess.
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which is why I believe that putting the renting time as "gaming hours" is the best way to go about it. This way, we who have the money but often not the time can also benefit.
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