This week, Sony finally gave PS4 owners unfettered access to the beta of PlayStation Now, their streaming rental service. However, those who did fire up PlayStation Now were greeted by a rude awakening.
Back when we announced that PlayStation Now was jumping from closed beta to open beta on the PS4, we shared a hope that Sony would lower rental prices now that the service was open to the public. That was not the case.
While Sony has announced plans to drop the 4-hour rental price from $2.99 to $1.99, the rest of their options (7-day, 30-day, and 90-day) remain the same. Games like Grid 2, Deus Ex: Human Revolution, and Final Fantasy XIII-2 still cost anywhere from $15 to $30 for a 90-day rental.
On the surface that might seem fine given that most gamers can wring all the entertainment out of a game in 90 days, but a quick perusal of Steam or GameStop's used section will tell you that's a very high price. Why pay $30 for a 90-day rental when you can pay less and keep the game forever?
Clearly, something needs to change, but whether or not Sony will acquiesce to gamers' requests is another thing. They have been exploring a possible subscription option, but that sounds more like a complement to the rentals not necessarily a completely different thing. According to Sony's Jack Buser:
"We are looking for the subscription offering to complement our rental offering. We believe both options provide gamers the freedom to discover and play games in a way that weren't previously possible before."
And even when they talk about lowering prices, Sony cites the 4-hour rental price change as "responding to gamers" — while the other pricing options remain unchanged.
"One of those things that we heard about was we received some critical feedback around certain price points as you're very familiar with. As a direct result of that feedback, we're gonna soon introduce titles starting at $1.99. We hope this offers users a wider range of price points to choose from, and we encourage our testers to continue to tell us about what their experience is with every aspect of the service."
What's more, PlayStation Now users aren't paying exorbitant prices for the latest and the greatest from Sony; as of right now the Now selection features very few top tier titles. Granted, games like The Last of Us, Beyond: Two Souls, and God of War 3 will come, but if smaller games are already commanding these high prices we can only imagine how expensive a first party best-seller will cost. At that point, you might be better off just paying the $50 for The Last of Us Remastered.
Again, as we mentioned, Sony is hoping to add new titles and make some pricing changes as the open beta goes on, so make sure your voice is heard. If Sony sees gamers are not actually using the PlayStation Now service that might convince them that changes are needed.
What do you think of PlayStation Now's pricing schemes? If they announced an unlimited access subscription service how much would you pay per month?
Follow Anthony on Twitter @ANTaormina