Sony PlayStation Now UK beta rental prices go live
Everything you need to know about Sony's upcoming PlayStation Now game streaming service, including current rental prices and included games
PlayStation Now, Sony's game streaming subscription service that will let PS4 owners play any PS3 title instantly on their console with no need to buy a disc or download massive files, has been in the works for some time now. It's been running as a closed beta in the US since the end of last year, but Sony's finally extended the beta to the UK, with rental prices going live this week.
What is PlayStation Now?
PlayStation Now started off life as Gaikai, a game streaming platform Sony purchased in 2012, which runs games on high-powered servers and beams low-bandwidth video to players rather than massive game files. Without the need for a physical disc, or actually downloading a digital version of the game, players are able to play the full version of a supported game over the service using their broadband connection and a PS4, 2014 Bravia TV or PS Vita handheld.
Currently, the service is using modified PS3 hardware to run games in its datacentres. The processing power of eight PS3 consoles is shrunk onto a single motherboard, which then renders a particular game for users to stream over a broadband internet connection. It could eventually expand to include PS2 and original PlayStation games, as well as PS4 titles, but for now Sony is concentrating on PS3 games only. It effectively adds full backwards compatibility to the PS4, which launched without the ability to play PS3 games.
How much does it cost?
According to Eurogamer, the UK beta has finally gone into paid rental mode. However, it looks as though you could be forking out a fair amount of cash to rent the current crop of titles. To rent PS3 games, you can either pay £4.99 for two days or £9.99 for 30 days. PSN games, on the other hand, will cost £2.99 for two days or £7.99 for 30 days.
For reference, the current US prices are as follows: it costs $2.99 to rent any title in the library for a four hour period, with prices increasing as the length of time goes up: that means $5.99 for a week, $7.99 for a month and $14.99 for 90 days.
Those prices are almost certainly set to change, as Sony admits it is still testing the waters, and is still in the planning stages of launching a monthly subscription similar to PlayStation Plus. At the moment, though, £4.99 to rent Uncharted 2: Among Thieves for two days seems a bit steep when you can pick up a boxed copy from GAME for £3.
What games are included?
The initial selection of PlayStation Now titles included The Last of Us, God of War: Ascension, Puppeteer and Beyond: Two Souls, but by the time the open beta arrived in the UK that list had already grown to over 100 titles, including Deus Ex: Human Revolution, Metal Gear Solid HD Collection, Heavy Rain and Guacamelee.
The streamed versions of each game behaves exactly like the full retail or digitally downloaded version, meaning you'll be able to play them online against people playing with their own disc versions. You can also save your game progress to the cloud and continue playing where you left off.
How does it play?
Lag is the biggest concern with game streaming, but during our play session it felt practically as responsive as a local game and we had no problems controlling it. The graphics looked great too, unless we came across a particularly detailed scene with plenty of motion or we panned the camera too quickly. This introduced noticeable artefacts - not enough to ruin the experience, but enough to make you feel like you're watching a video stream rather than playing a game.
The faster your home internet connection, the better quality of the stream. You'll need a 5Mbit/s connection as a minimum to start playing.
When can I get it?
The UK private beta is already running, but Sony says that it's still looking for participants to take part in the trial. Interested PS4 owners can register their interest here. All you need to do is fill out a short questionnaire and successfull applicants will receive an email with further instructions.
As for when the final service will be available, Sony has yet to announce a specific launch date. Hopefully we'll hear more about the service at Sony's E3 press conference, but we wouldn't be surprised if it didn't arrive until 2016 at the very earliest.