Editorials, Featured, Platforms, PS Vita, PS3, PS4

Sony Needs to Realize that PlayStation Now’s Prices are Ludicrous – Here Is a Reasonable Pricing Model

by on August 2, 2014 8:33 PM 278

PlayStation Now is a very cool idea. It was welcomed with enthusiasm by PlayStation fans when it was announced at CES back in February. Unfortunately now the wind has radically changed, and the service mostly raises eyebrows and triggers irritated frowns. The pricing model is nearly the sole culprit of this downturn in popularity.

The reason for this unfortunate situation is pretty simple: not only Sony Computer Entertainment opted to launch an “open beta” for the service asking its testers to actually pay for the games they rent (which raises a few questions in itself), but to add insult to injury, the pricing model is absolutely ridiculous, demanding customers to pay for ninety days of rental (and in many cases even for thirty) more than what they’d have to drop if they purchased the same games from the bargain bin at the neighboring shop.

Marketing 101 teaches that if there’s one thing that can prove bloody hindering awkward for the launch of any product and service, that’s releasing at the wrong price point, and Sony should have learned that lesson the hard way with the PS3. They actually seemed to have grasped the concept quite well with the launch of the PS4, but apparently someone needs a refresher.

The funny thing is that game rental services aren’t anything new. Besides the concept of streaming, Sony isn’t reinventing the wheel. That’s why I can’t for the life of me understand why they simply didn’t take inspiration from prices that are already widely accepted by customers in the rental market and used them as a base to build their pricing model up.

Below you can see the two extremes of the current PlatStation Now pricing model.

20140803014039

20140803014025

Renting a video game at a quite widespread outlet like Red Box will take a couple bucks out of your wallet for 24 hours. On the other hand, not only there’s no rental option for a single day on PlayStation Now, replaced by a rather nonsensical demo-like four hours window, but it costs between three and five bucks, which is simply out of this world.

Sony went ahead and promised “some” games for $1.99 for four hours, but that’s hardly more than a mere placebo.

Here’s a more reasonable and realistic pricing model for the higher end of the catalog:

PlayStationNow

As you can easily see, a few strokes of Photoshop have done away with the four hour period. It’s simply redundant, and it just makes gaming less enjoyable by instilling an undue sense of urgency. I replaced it with a free one hour demo. It’s simply a reasonable option to expect from a service that has everything to prove, and would let customers evaluate the streaming quality and whether or not a title really interests them.

Secondly, I re-introduced the classic one day rental, for the pretty much widely accepted price of $1.99. That’s what you pay to rent a physical copy of a game nowadays, and you don’t have to worry about the speed of your connection and streaming quality.

Afterwards, I drastically reduced the pricing for seven, thirty and ninety days. The original ones were really excessive considering the age of the games involved and the fact that you’re just renting the titles and not purchasing them.

Finally, I added a permanent purchase option. It intentionally costs less than purchasing the same game on the PSN store, and the reason for that is pretty obvious: you don’t really own the game. The moment Sony Decides to shut down PlayStation Now for good, you’ll lose any right to playing it. This, of course, adds up to a degree of input lag and to the fact that the quality of the visuals won’t ever be on the same level as that of a game that is running directly on a PS3.

On the other hand, the existence  of a permanent purchase option adds a degree of lasting backwards compatibility to the PS4, which I’m sure many users would welcome.

To apply the same model to the lower end of the PlayStation Now catalog, you simply need to halve all the numbers.

I hold no doubt that with this kind of pricing the acceptance of the new service would be much more widespread and enthusiastic, and that’s exactly what Sony needs at the moment.

As I mentioned at the beginning of this article, PlayStation Now is a very cool concept, but for the moment its execution is flawed. It’s easy to say “it’s just a beta,” but it’s a beta for which North American gamers are already paying.

It’s also a beta of a service that still has to prove its worth to customers. If Sony launches it with its current pricing model (including “some” games for $1.99 for four hours), I honestly can’t see many being even willing to give it a chance. I surely am not.

In the end the ball is in Sony’s field. They aren’t launching in a market with no competition, and the significant lead of the PS4 over the Xbox One even thanks to the lower price point should have taught them a thing or two.

Rumor has it that when Microsoft announced the $500 price point of the Xbox One, Sony’s executives were dancing in the hallways. I can pretty much guarantee that when Sony announced the prices for PlayStation Now, no one danced.  

Join the Discussion

  • Keloric

    I knew this would happen to PS Now. I didn’t feel it was going to work.

    PS Now is not your ordinary digital game store where the company only has to provide servers for storage for the games they sell. They also need to provide computing power ( for PS3 emulating ) and bandwidth to each gamer as long as they are playing.
    Which is completely different from services like Steam where the user has to only download the game file and just play on their computer using their PCs computing power.

    They need to set these high prices for even old games to keep the high computing PS Now servers running. But if the prices are too high, majority of the gamers would definitely not use this service. But if they set it at a price that gamers are satisfied with, they might not make profit. They might even lose money.

    I really don’t think streaming services are going to work with games.
    Games are totally different compared to video streaming.

    • lassenwolf

      nothing you said is correct. Now works better than my ps3 that froze up all the time

      • Keloric

        You’re reply isn’t constructive at all. You’re just saying I’m wrong, but with no reason. Or is “it works better than your PS3 that froze” the reason to why I’m wrong?? If so, thats really laughable, since it sounds like a comment from a 4 year old. If you’re gonna reply. please be more constructive. I wish these comment sections had an ignore feature…

    • Budgiecat

      I don’t get how they could mess it up other than pure greed.

      It’s like they never heard of Onlive…

  • Pedro Carreira

    Agreed.

  • ThePokeMaster

    I think people would be foolish to rent a game for 90 days. You don’t even know if you’re gonna like the game or not.
    So I think that, not only should it be cheaper as the article shows, but a couple of those options should be removed altogether. If you’re gonna pay $30, you might as well just get the actual physical copy, instead of a streamed version.

  • Guest

    lol @ 4hrs….

  • MinaBoss

    What if you pay 10 or 15 bucks a month then you get to access any 10 or 20 games from Ps now for the month?

  • Edward CORE

    It will only would have a chance to work if it takes the same approach of Netflix, with a fixed price to access the whole library. This way, it’s a total rip off, and Sony is only seeking to damage the online market with these prices and, let’s admit it, subpar way to deliver the games. It’s streaming, for crying out loud, it’s great for movies but it’s the worst way to play a game, believe me. And a lot won’t even be able to play it, since it requires hi speed big bandwidth internet connection. But what I’m most sorry about is the amount of people that actually are justifying these absurd prices as if Sony is doing us a favor, when you can actually get these games for less and play it from your console, no internet required aside to download it. They are trying to damage the market and as long as people put up with it, Sony will comfortably keep shoving a terrible service for absurd prices. Sorry, but this service is doomed to fail. Sony is so out of its mind and it’s so absurd as it is, that it’s a job worth of Adam Orth’s efforts. So, deal with it? :(

  • Budgiecat

    lol wut?

    Why would you rent an old ass game for 90 days for $30?

    also, 1 day for $2 should not be an option. Minimal pay amount time: 1 week.

  • Budgiecat

    For a price I’d buy about anything
    Except EA or Playstation Now
    For that I’d need a pretty good cause
    Then I heard no more Megaman X
    But Inafune he’s got the cure
    Just watch the kickstarter..
    Yeah, you’ll see there’s something going on..

    Got no love for AAA publishers
    Or that crazy scene at Microsoft
    It’s just a power mad town
    But the time is ripe for changes
    There’s a growing feeling
    That taking a chance on a new kind of vision is due

    I used to trust the game media
    To tell me the truth, tell us the truth
    But now I’ve seen the payoffs
    Everywhere I look
    Sony, Microsoft and Nintendo all are crooks?

    Revolution calling
    Revolution calling
    Revolution calling you
    (There’s a) Revolution calling
    Video game crash calling
    Gotta make a change
    Gotta push, gotta push it on through

    I’m tired of all this bullshots
    They keep selling me at E3
    About the next gen ‘Remaster’ plan
    And all the shady publishers
    Begging for my cash
    XBL accounts while giving their
    Secretaries the slam

    They’re all in Kotaku now
    Or Gamespot magazine, social justice war stories to tell
    Anita Sarkeesian can do no wrong
    Fame fifteen minutes long
    Everyone’s using everybody, making the sale

    I used to think
    That only Sony’s way, way was right
    But now the holy dollar rules everybody online
    Gotta make a million doesn’t matter what game dies

    Revolution calling
    Revolution calling
    Revolution calling you
    (There’s a) Revolution calling
    video game crash calling
    Gotta make a change
    Gotta push, gotta push it on through

    I used to trust the game media
    To tell me the truth, tell us the truth
    But now I’ve seen the payoffs
    Everywhere I look
    Who do ya trust when EA are all crooks?

    Revolution calling
    Revolution calling
    Revolution calling you
    (There’s a) Revolution calling
    Video game crash calling
    Gotta make a change
    Gotta push, gotta push it on through

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N5wXuH-iiaI

  • Convergence87

    I really don’t understand why everyone is so upset. The prices seem very competitive.

  • https://twitter.com/SurtGodsEnd DemonRonin

    Only prices that makes bloody sense is for the week one. You use to pay more at Blockbuster. They really need to get rid of that 4hr crap. and bring on a subscription. ..I like using colorful words. lol

  • Eric Irving

    I still much rather have it set up like how Netflix offers their streaming services. If this continues in this model however, your idea definitely seems more ideal than Sony’s.

  • matty Gaffney

    Hrm, while I always love cheap things…I don’t think the prices are that insane. 4.99 for 4 hours…I rent movies on Apple TV all the time for 4.99 (about the same price on every platform though) which gives me about 2 hours of entertainment…so the same price for 4 hours doesn’t really bother me (and some games were cheaper than this). 4 hours is sort of a weird time…but there are so many games out there that I am curious to play for a little bit just to see what they are like so it’s not totally insane. It would be nice if you could do the 4 hours and then pay a discounted price to keep it for longer if you end up liking it.

    A permanent option would be nice though and I do think the prices could use a tiny bit of reworking, I just think the amount of rage going on over them is a little bit over the top (though it’s the internet so what do I expect).

  • Christian Dixon

    First the pricing model needs to fall in line with something that is a little more uniform. I think all the pricing tiers for all the games need to be identical and also they need to have the same tiers available for every game. I think Sony has the market power now to force publishers who want to be apart of this to conform to something like that. Secondly, $9.99 for a 90-day rental seems more reasonable because at the end of the 90-day period you still don’t own the game. You have nothing to show for that $9.99 fee other than some trophies maybe. It is still just a rental.

  • verity treacle

    considering most single player games are about 7hrs on easy/normal I think free 30min demo wouldnt be unreasonable, I think 1hr is too long for a demo… you should be able to get the gist of a game in 30min, you can make up your mind to just rent or blow out and buy the full product…

  • Spoonyrogdrumps

    If it’s an older game it should be cheaper to rent or permanently own. If PS2 and or PS1 games come to NOW they should be dirt cheap. Old games just aren’t worth as much as Sony wants to sell them for when it comes to digital distribution. They rob you blind and you don’t even know it. Though it’s not just Sony. The developers of the actual games have a say so in what their games are sold for.

  • DarthDiggler

    It wouldn’t be wise to do free 1 hour rentals unless that was a feature of PS+. You can’t offer too much for free in this regard because this is a service and not a product. If you make pricing TOO low you have too many people accessing PS Now and the service won’t work so hot. That is why Sony is taking their time finding the right price points. Too much “success” could be a failure.

  • Kristian Fairholm

    As a PS4 owner, I am disgusted with the lack of verity in the PSN Store, every game on there is over priced, the majority of the games on there I would not want even if they where free, and now they want to rent games, well no thanks, I doubt I will ever pay for anything on that store, buying a hard copy of any game right now seems like the only viable option

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