Streaming anything and everything seems to be the wave of the future. Yes, the hardcore fan still loves and enjoys their ‘hard copies’ — whether that be a vinyl record or the latest copy of ‘Elder Scrolls Online: Tamriel Unlimited‘. Never-the-less streaming is here to stay and Sony is on the forefront with regards to gaming.
Netflix still offers discs for delivery and at any RedBox you can pick up a hard copy of the latest movies to rent — both offer streaming services as well and unless you’ve lived in an area without any type of internet connection, you have at least heard the name Netflix in passing.
With the growing popularity of anything and everything at your finger tips — from viral videos to streaming music on your smartphone and, from streaming your favorite TV shows to making video phone calls with any WiFi connection — gaming is entering the world of streaming and Sony seems to be at the forefront.
Streaming does have its downsides but we will get to those in a bit.
Sony and its PS3, PS4, PS Vita and PlayStation TV already offer services such as Netflix, Hulu, MLB.tv (with many more) and offers streaming and downloadable movies as well as rentals through their own PlayStation store — there are a variety of other services and apps as well.
Now the PlayStation 4, PS3, PS Vita and PlayStation TV are offering two streaming game services. PS Now and pay-to-play streaming rentals.
PS Now is a monthly service with a catalog of 100 plus titles that rotate on occasion. The service is $20 a month and offers the streaming of PS3 titles exclusively. There is a 7-day free trial (credit/debit card info required). After the trial period you will be charged $20 a month unless you cancel before the trial period is over. The PS Now service can be cancelled at anytime.
Sony also offers a streaming game rental service. You can rent most games (PS3 and PS4) for 4-hours and up to 90 days. The prices range from $1 to $29.99.
Sony being Sony has also meticulously added PSN integration to the services — no self respecting nerd can do without his or her trophies.
Now for the bad news. Both services utilize streaming — which is awesome and will save space for the ever-nearly-overflowing library of games and movies. The bad: you have to have a decent connection. Anyone streaming from less than 10 Mbps (Megabits Per Second) and/or a range expander/extender may run into a problem. Sony ‘recommends’ speeds of at least 5 Mbps (5000 Kbps) or more and must run at least 3 Mbps.
This can be a problem at peak times (5 PM-12 AM PST), as well as if anyone and everyone in the house is streaming or running background apps that use up the bandwidth as well.
Unfortunately unlike NetFlix and Hulu you can’t just turn down the quality of the game from HD to low. The file size is a whole lot larger as well.
For example a SD (Standard definition) movie will run up to and around 2 GB (Gigabytes), while an HD movie (720i-1080p) will be around 8 GB — in comparison a PS4 game can run from 200 MB (Megabytes) to 40+ GB. This is why the aforementioned ‘decent connection’ was stated.
Tons of gaming, pricing options, a free trial and game rentals that start at $1 isn’t half bad.
On to the downsides which are glaring but certainly not blinding. The first being an issue at anytime for folks with large houses, one modem, lots of ‘simultaneous’ streaming, an extender or expander and may even affect anyone who has a connection speed of 10 Mbps or less. Not being able to change the video quality is more of an irritation than anything else but can still be problematic for those hoping for a simple fix.
You can bet Sony will stay on top of their game (no pun intended) and be working hard to make their streaming services even better and, maybe even give Microsoft a run for their money and add backwards compatibility all the way to the PS One — we can only dream.
For now, if you haven’t played a certain game and want to give it a try before you buy $1-5 isn’t half bad — providing your connection is decent enough. For those with nothing but time, 90-days is enough time to beat most if not all games without having to pay the exuberant $50+ a game.
Once again Sony puts themselves on top of the console world with services that can only be matched but never beat.