Playstation Now Coming to PC
So this is literally breaking news and honestly it’s mostly good stuff, especially if you happen to be a PC gamer.
In this press release PlayStation has revealed that they would be opening up their game streaming service Playstation Now to the PC. In addition they would be providing a USB… well it’s a Bluetooth dongle. Let’s call a spade a spade here, for $29.99 Canadian.
Oh wait, you don’t know what Playstation Now is? You assume I’m making a typo and calling Playstation Plus by the wrong name?
Playstation Now is Playstation’s streaming service. What it means is that you subscribe to the service and get unlimited rental of any game in the library (barring restrictions) or you can just rent individual games and in theory, in theory this works.
On a purely programming level this makes sense, streaming games to a PC is a hell of a lot easier than making a port but there are problems. Companies have tried this model in the past and with most video game streaming services there is the issue of lag. The problem is video game streaming is much more intensive for bandwidth and internet speed. Many users of pre-existing but similar services not that any incremental drops in service cause a massive decrease in gameplay performance.
In turn, the subscription model for Playstation Now itself is flawed out the gate. With Playstation Now there are titles which players can only access by paying a rental fee which sort of makes the whole subscription service pointless doesn’t it? The other thing going against this service is that they are invariably competing against other services which have a longer history of customer satisfaction.
Take Steam, since if one talks about PC gaming one must invariably talk about the big kid on the block. There was a time a few years ago where EA, Blizzard, Ubisoft and even Rockstar all had their own versions of software platforms for gaming distribution to compete with the PC giant. Now EA Origin is an eternally vilified product slandered in the press, Ubisoft’s Unity is little more than an extra sign in step for players who bought their games on Steam, and Rockstar’s Social Club is an atrophied cancerous tumour. Blizzard’s Battle.Net only survived because of how strong its first party titles are despite the many and I mean many attempts on the part of Blizzard to ruin it between the insane DRM software for Starcraft 2 and the Auction House debacle.
And now PlayStation is moving into this scarred postwar battleground with a streaming service with an already dodgy subscription out the gate along with lag and frame rate drops.
Even the offer of a USB dongle is suspect considering in the press announcement there was no mention of compatibility drivers. All that the release said was that it would work “as long as the gaming application supports these features.” Which I wish meant that it would work with my steam games and the standard windows drivers for controllers but as a rule, unless a company expressly states that a product will do a thing, it’s generally not a good idea to assume that it will.
Even then when you, as a consumer, can just go and buy a blutooth adapter for 14 dollars and get the DS4Windows software online for free then why would you bother?
Some gamers are praising this as the first step of Sony moving to a pure peripheral and PC support market and I wish that were true. The problem is with the release version of this service there is a lot of elements lacking that the PC consumer base won’t accept. And if it proves not financially viable for Sony then they’ll stay focused on consoles.
But hey the Vita got cracked so now’s a good time to go have fun with that.