When it was first announced, Sony’s game streaming service sounded ambitious, to say the least. Initial perceptions weren’t helped by Sony’s initial pricing model, which envisaged players paying to gain access to games for a fixed period of time. That idea was met with a significant backlash and so Sony switched their approach to a Netflix-style game streaming service.
PlayStation Plus has undergone a number of small changes since then and the available library of games has continued to grow. So, is it worth the asking price?
Frustratingly, but perhaps unsurprisingly, the library of available games varies according to the region, but both the US and the UK libraries are well-stocked. As you would expect, PS4 exclusives, in particular, those produced by Sony’s in-house studios, are well represented. The first three Uncharted games (remastered if you’re on PS4) are available, as is the Last of Us (again, remastered for PS4 players).
Together with third-party games, the PlayStation Now library offers something for everyone. One of the biggest benefits of the service, as with Netflix, is that it gives users access to titles that they would otherwise never look at. When first confronted with it, many users have no idea where to begin with searching for specific games. Check out websites such as games niped to stay up to date with the latest additions and best gems in the back catalog.
So, how do the games handle? This very much depends on your internet connection and what other devices and usage it is supporting. If you have a blisteringly fast, absolutely untouchable, fiber optic internet connection, then playing a game on PlayStation Now will be virtually the same as playing it from the disc. Realistically though, most users aren’t going to be in such a luxurious position.
For the average user, performance is good, as long as the PS4 has all the bandwidth it needs. If you live somewhere where there are going to be people streaming HD Netflix while you’re gaming, then you will notice. Fortunately, the impact is on the video quality rather than the framerate, leaving the majority of games easily playable.
The only notable hiccough came when playing Red Dead Redemption. The frame rate seemed unstable under all circumstances, leaving the game barely playable and tedious. Similarly, when playing Until Dawn, the throttling of video quality can begin to seriously detract from the experience. This is a game that occurs mostly in the shadows and when the video is compressed, it becomes hard to navigate properly.
Is it Worth it?
It depends. If you have the necessary hardware to handle it then you should have a great experience. It is worth noting that, regardless of whether your internet connection would be capable of more, all the games on PlayStation Now are limited to 1080 x 720 resolution. Full 1080 and 4K aren’t an option. Even on an average internet connection, the service fares well, but if you stream anything alongside it, you will likely notice a hit in performance.
PlayStation Now is a great service. It isn’t without its limitations and drawbacks, but for those who have a limited physical library, the $20/month subscription price isn’t at all unreasonable for the number of games you get instant access to.