PlayStation Now is Sony’s Game Streaming Service aimed at providing a library of PlayStation games to internet connected devices.
PlayStation Now works by performing all the processing on a centrally hosted server and streaming the images to your device, whilst collecting your input and sending it back to the server. It turns the PlayStation into a device independent platform rather than a hardware based system.
This month Sony expanded the range of compatible devices to include the PS Vita, a mobile device. It’s surely only a matter of time before a mobile phone version of PlayStation Now is released, so I was keen to see how it worked in practice.
Grabbing my normally redundant Vita I went and rented Uncharted 2, and after I recovered from the price I started playing through this classic.
Testing PlayStation Now on the PS Vita shows off the potential that the service brings, as PS3 quality graphics and audio are delivered to the small screen without apparent lag. To achieve this a good quality WiFi connection is required, and the service won’t run unless an appropriate quality connection is available. Although adding to the mobile potential, it’s possible to get a very good experience using a strong 4G signal as an internet source.
You will occasionally notice that a few tricks are being deployed in order to maintain a consistent frame rate. Backgrounds sometimes become hazy as the focus stays on foreground activity, and some colour compression takes place but it’s subtle and doesn’t impact on the overall experience.
The built-in hardware controls and touchscreen on the PS Vita are used to replicate a PS3 control pad. On other supported devices you can connect a Sony Joypad for that genuine feeling.
It all sounds great so far, but there is currently a big problem with the service and that’s the business model.
Bearing in mind that you can buy a physical copy of a number of the titles on offer for just a couple of quid, the service feels very expensive.
To rent Uncharted 2 it costs £7.99 for 30 days, and there’s no access to any previous digital purchases – which is pretty crazy, but as the service is still in beta hopefully this will change.
Overall PlayStation Now is a very good gaming experience and has certainly made my PS Vita relevant again, it’s clear to me that if Sony expanded the service to include iOS & Android devices and get the pricing model right, then PlayStation Now could change the face of mobile gaming.