Feature

Four Things Sony Can Do To Make A PlayStation Now Subscription Worthwhile

by Mike Futter on Jan 05, 2015 at 03:13 AM

Today, Sony announced the oft-requested subscription program for PlayStation Now. If you've been waiting to check out PlayStation 3 titles streaming to your PS4 because you didn't want to rent individual games, a Netflix-style buffet option might be up your alley.

The plan will launch at $19.99 per month or $44.99 for a three-month bundle. The problem is that PlayStation Now still feels disconnected from the rest of the PlayStation experience. Here are a few things Sony can do to sweeten the deal and woo more people to PlayStation Now.

The subscription can't be limited to PlayStation 4 for long.
Right now, the PlayStation Now subscription offering is limited to PlayStation 4, though this will change at an unannounced point in the future. Sony needs to remedy that sooner rather than later.

I don't purchase a Netflix streaming subscription for one device. It works for every platform on which Netflix is available (which at this point is everything except my toaster oven).

The reason this is a problem for Sony is because it flies in the face of the company's "PlayStation family" approach. I can play PS Now games on my Vita, but if I have a subscription on my PlayStation 4 and want to continue playing in bed, I need to individually rent the game? That's absurd.

Either PlayStation Now is an service offered on all active PlayStation devices or it's something tied to a specific platform. Sony's approach at launch creates confusion and negatively impacts people who have gone all-in with the company.

PlayStation Plus members should be acknowledged with a slight discount.
PlayStation Plus and PlayStation Now are two different services, but that doesn't mean they shouldn't be connected in some way to encourage entrenched customers to dig deeper. A five or ten percent discount wouldn't amount to much each month, but it would give PlayStation Plus members a nod and suggest that PlayStation Now is part of the larger experience.

Putting services in silos like this makes it easier for people to ignore them. Bundling would be another way to lure existing customers in.

Sony can protect itself by only offering the all-in-one for extended periods of time. Money now is more valuable than money later.

Sony needs to build the foundation of PS Now with first-party titles.
There are over 800 PlayStation 3 titles on the market. And while third-party arrangements will likely prevent the entire library from being available, "over 100" isn't quite good enough.

Sony should be working to get every first-party title possible on the service as soon as possible. This includes the HD collections for Sony’s mascot franchises (Jak and Daxter, Ratchet and Clank, and Sly Cooper), the Uncharted series, Killzone, Resistance, LittleBigPlanet, and the rest.

Right now, the library is simply too thin. At the very least, subscribers should be able to count on Sony’s games appearing on the service.

PlayStation and PlayStation 2 titles should be a priority.
As standalone products, PlayStation and PlayStation 2 games (excepting the rare ones like Suikoden II) are unlikely to bring in huge revenue. As part of a service offering though, the gems from those systems will help create the selling proposition for PlayStation Now.

The more classics Sony can pour into the service, the more likely someone is to look at the offerings. The more reasons someone has to look at the PlayStation Now library, the more likely they are to invest in it. When the service was announced a year ago at CES, Sony Computer Entertainment CEO Andrew House said these titles will be coming.

The publisher should strive to make PlayStation Now a one-stop shop for 20 years of the best of PlayStation history. Curated collections of PlayStation 1 and PlayStation 2 titles would create the feeling of an interactive museum of everything that’s led to the current system.

It would also be a smart testing ground to see which IPs still have vibrant fanbases. Other publishers might be interested in tapping into that kind of data, too.

Square Enix might want to find out if fans are interested in another Vagrant Story or Parasite Eve title. Capcom might want to know if Dino Crisis still has what it takes. 

The PlayStation Now membership is a step in the right direction, and the service will likely evolve (just like PlayStation Plus did). For now though, just make sure you have enough you want to play before signing up for a subscription.