Sony announces Playstation Now subscription service, but is it a good value?

Playstation Now is Sony's game streaming service. You can play Playstation 3 games on the Playstation 4, the Playstation 3, the Playstation Vita, some Sony TVs and soon, Samsung TVs (as long as you have a solid broadband connection).

It's a neat idea that has been plagued with pricing issues; many consumers found the cost of renting a game was too high, and there were many calls for some kind of 'all you can play' subscription model.

Yesterday Sony announced just that; the Playstation Now subscription service launches next Tuesday, January 13th. It's initially only available to Playstation 4 owners but will spread to other devices that support Playstation Now in the future. It costs $19.99/month or $44.99 for three months.

So is this a good deal? I cruised around some comment threads and opinions seem to be mixed. I think it really depends on who you are. Let's break that down a little.

If you still own a Playstation 3, Playstation Now is probably not worth it and frankly I don't think you're the intended audience. PS3 games are cheap these days, whether you're taking advantage of digital game sales on PSN, older retail games from Amazon, or used titles at Gamestop.

For everyone else, it depends on what kinds of games you play. If you like to play a little bit of a lot of games then you'll probably get a lot of value out of your $15/month (I'm going to assume interested parties will pay for three months to get the best deal). If you play one game every week you'll be paying $3.75/game, right? It's hard to complain about that price.

On the other hand if you're a person who plays a single game at a time and you gravitate towards lengthy RPGs or something like a sports or driving game that has no clear ending, then renting the individual title makes more sense. Most games on Playstation Now can be rented for a month for $7-$8 or for three months for $15; if you're going to play a single game for a month then you're probably losing money on the subscription. The exception will be if you're looking at one of the few higher priced titles. Bound By Flame, for instance, is inexplicably $17.99 to rent for a month, and $29.99 to rent for 90 days. (This is why gamers get mad about Playstation Now pricing. Bound By Flame has a list price of $19.99 on disk for Playstation 3 according to a listing at Amazon. How do they justify a one month rental being almost equal to the cost of purchasing the title outright?)

I doubt I'll subscribe to Playstation Now because I still have my PS3 setup (and a huge backlog of games I haven't yet finished on it). I will take advantage of the 7 day free trial they're offering new subscribers just to check it out, but I think Sony still needs to sweeten the deal to lure me in.

I've seen some comments calling for an annual subscription that costs even less (maybe $119.99/year or basically $10/month), and I've seen comments suggesting a bundle that includes Playstation Plus and Playstation Now for a discount on the cost of both. Those are both interesting ideas to me. I'd also like to see the library expanded beyond Playstation 3 games. Sony has indicated that at some point they'll be adding PSOne and PS2 games to the service. When that happens I might be more interested since those consoles are buried in a closet somewhere.

The fact that this deal is only available to the PS4 suggests to me that Sony may still be in 'price test mode' and they're waiting to see how the audience reacts to the subscription before rolling it out to other devices.

I'm curious to see what happens when I subscribe to a Playstation Now subscription on the PS4 and then try to access my account on the Playstation TV. Will I be locked out? I'm also curious to see if all titles are covered by the subscription or it its a subset (Sony says "100+ PS3 titles" will be available to subscribers but Playstation Now currently offers 214 titles so I assume the sub covers a sub-set.). If for no other reason than to answer these questions, I'll sign up for the 7 day trial when it becomes available next week. Let me know if you have any questions and I'll try to answer them during the trial period.

ITWorld DealPost: The best in tech deals and discounts.
Shop Tech Products at Amazon