PlayStation Now Beta Leak Hints at Rental System
We haven’t heard a lot about Sony’s cloud-based game streaming service, PlayStation Now, since they detailed it at CES in January. The beta has been ongoing for select PS3 users since February. However, the latest PS Now update and leak have given us our first hint at the business model powering the service.
The PS Now beta now allows for users to simulate the a rental system for playing games on the service. A tipster for DualShockers indicated that selecting a game to play, you have to select the length of the game’s availability. Current options are for 1, 7 and 30 days.
One of the key factors to the success of the PlayStation Now service was always going to be the business model for accessing the games. At the CES press conference, Sony said that games would be available individually for rent and through a subscription service that one would assume would be similar to the likes of Netflix and similar video streaming services that unlock the whole library for a monthly fee.
What we don’t have yet, because Sony is still working on games offered and the technical aspects of the service, is the pricing model for PS Now. If memory serves, a seven-day rental at Blockbuster was around $5. That wouldn’t be unreasonable as a high point for a seven-day rental but I’d worry about the potential for success at a rental rate any higher.
Of course, the whole PS Now market could end up cannibalizing itself if the subscription price is too low or too high relative to the price of renting individual games. If rentals are closer to $2 per week instead of $5, I would guess that no one would be on board with a $10 per month subscription fee. Alternatively, at $5 per week, I’d guess that people would jump at a $10 per month subscription fee and would be on the fence at $15 per month for a subscription. I’d imagine that the pricing of the rentals and subscriptions is what Sony is going to be focusing on getting right over the next few months.
While I’m here, I should note that the latest update to the PS Now beta library includes a better selection that the update from just two weeks ago. While the early April update swapped out the previous library for mostly indie games (along with Shadow of the Colossus), now, PS Now has Saints Row: The Third and GRID as triple-A title to go along a pretty decent indie line-up.
So, is it just me who is a little worried about the pricing model so far? If the price was right, I’d be inclined to rent some games that I missed but I’m worried about those games being overpriced. I’ve never played the God of War games, for example, and would love to try them but three games at $5 per week for three of them is not a value proposition that I’d go for. From Sony’s perspective, I wouldn’t want to offer rentals for too much less. It’s a delicate balance that Sony has to strike and it might be harder than getting the streaming to work properly and getting the right mix and volume of games on the service.