Sony launched its subscription plans for PlayStation Now, a service that lets you download and stream games from an ever-growing library, on January 13th, 2015. Since then, a lot has changed. The company has added PS4 blockbusters and PS2 classics to its once PS3-only catalog. Meanwhile, Xbox Games Pass, Discord Nitro and others have emerged as competent pay-once, play-anything contenders on rival platforms. Many technology behemoths, including Google and, reportedly, Amazon and Verizon, are also experimenting with hardware-agnostic game streaming.
In 2019, is PlayStation Now worth $19.99 per month? Or a $100 annual subscription? For a narrow subset of PC and PlayStation 4 owners, yes.
Sony's subscription service currently offers over 700 games. (I counted 646 on February 11th, 2019, in the UK.) The company's marketing is quick to highlight its biggest and most-loved titles, including Red Dead Redemption, Steep and Mafia III. Scroll across to the 'All Games' tab, however, and you'll find that the heavyweight pickings are slim. The bulk of the library is filled with forgettable titles such as Alien Spidy, Gem Smashers and Kung Fu Rabbit. There are four Formula 1 games -- yes, four -- ranging from F1 2014 to 2017. While a valuable form of game preservation, they feel like needless padding. How many people want to go back and play F1 2014?
The catalog does have some big hitters, however, including The Last of Us (the PS3 version, not the PS4 remaster), Fallout: New Vegas and BioShock Infinite. But as I started bookmarking titles, I quickly realized how many were already sitting in my library. Bloodborne, Until Dawn, For Honor, Mafia III, Journey, God of War III: Remastered -- I had earned all of these through PlayStation Plus, an older subscription service that costs $9.99 per month or $59.99 per year and is required to play PS4 games online.
As I started bookmarking titles, I quickly realized how many were already sitting in my library.
You don't need PS Plus to take out a PlayStation Now subscription. That means you could ditch PS Plus -- which usually means forfeiting your library of 'free' games -- and still have access to the titles I just mentioned.
So which, if any, should you choose? If you own a PS4 and play anything with an online multiplayer component, you obviously need PS Plus. PlayStation Now has a bigger and broader selection of 'free' games, though, in particular for people who are new to the ecosystem and haven't accrued a decent library of PS Plus games.
If, like me, you've had PS Plus for some time (and religiously added the monthly games to your library), you'll be underwhelmed by the selection of PS4 games in PlayStation Now. Instead, I found myself gravitating towards the grab-bag of PlayStation 2 and 3 titles, which include Ape Escape, Dark Cloud, Resistance 3 and the original Uncharted trilogy.