PlayStation Now offers downloadable titles and strong competition for Xbox Game Pass, but a lot of people have failed to notice the change.
Though the service had a rocky start, Sony’s PlayStation Now has improved significantly in recent years and offers a strong value proposition that provides solid competition for Microsoft’s Xbox Game Pass service. Despite the improvements, there is still little acknowledgment of PS Now from the gaming community at large. While Xbox Game Pass continues to be a leader in the game subscription market, PS Now is a worthy competitor, and many gamers who are unfamiliar with the current state of PS Now might benefit from giving it a second chance.
Part of the problem for PS Now is that it has changed significantly from its first incarnation, and a poor first impression can be devastating in the world of gaming. While Xbox Game Pass has stayed consistent since its launch in 2017, PlayStation Now has been around since 2014. PS Now started as a streaming rental service, with a variety of plans offering timed access to stream PS3 titles for a set number of hours. Aside from the dubious nature of streaming games, which continues to be a technical struggle for Amazon Luna and Google Stadia, the price structure offered little incentive for people to try the service.
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Xbox Game Pass, conversely, presented clear messaging, as a service that allowed for downloads of titles, rather than streaming only, and unlimited access to the library of games for a set monthly rate. Game Pass offered several free or low-cost promotional periods, and gamers could easily see the value of the service, as even at full price they would likely complete a game or two and see that the purchase price of those titles would have been much more than the service’s monthly fee. Game Pass also made an evident push for newer titles, with many Microsoft first-party games appearing day-one on the service, and more recently released third-party titles joining the rotation as well.
Why PS Now Is So Much Better Now
PlayStation Now significantly improved to match Xbox Game Pass in 2019, and since that time it has been a very competitive value, but the efforts to communicate PS Now’s changes were evidently insufficient to undo the memories of the first few years of PS Now. Since that time, PS Now has functioned as a subscription service, like Xbox Game Pass, rather than a timed rental service, priced either at $10 for a month-to-month-plan, or $60 if a full year is purchased at once, lowering the monthly price to $5. It also allows for local downloads of games for PS4 and PS5 users with PS Now – just as Game Pass offers this feature for Xbox and PC users.
There is still some confusion with PS Now on the streaming vs download question, however. For clarity, when using a PS4 or a PS5 for PS Now, all PS4 games and PS2 classics available on the service can be downloaded locally and played from the user’s hard drive, just like digitally purchased games. There is no backwards compatibility with the PS3, so PS3 titles remain streaming only, unlike the others.
PS Now Improves On New Games And Offers Transparency
In this current form, PS Now offers a strong value. The service contains over 700 titles, and more than 300 of those are locally downloadable PS4 and PS2 games. PS Now formerly did not have as many recently released titles as Xbox Game Pass, but it has made moves to correct this, as games like Control and Marvel’s Avengers have both appeared on PS Now before being offered with Game Pass. Sony has also included more of its first party titles like Spider-Man, Days Gone, and God of War, on PS Now, although typically as limited time games.
Although the timed rotation of the PlayStation exclusive games may not match Game Pass’s evergreen first-party titles, PS Now typically has more transparency than Xbox Game Pass, as limited duration PS Now titles provide a specific date when they will be removed from the service as soon as they are added, whereas Game Pass only announces titles that are leaving soon shortly before they are removed. At the $5 to $10 per month price point, PS Now has become a true competitor to Xbox Game Pass. Just as many people maintain more than one video streaming subscription concurrently, it is well worth it to maintain a PlayStation Now subscription alongside Xbox Game Pass to have access to a second large library of games, at minimal cost to the consumer.
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