Friday, August 1, 2014

By Jamaal Ryan

Two digital game service programs are in beta this week, EA Access and Playstation Now. While Access allows players to play archived EA titles along with offering discounts and pre-release access to upcoming games on the Xbox One for a monthly fee of $5 or $30 annually, Playstation Now delivers Playstation 3 games via streaming on multiple Sony devices – including selected televisions – for as low as $2.99 for four hour rentals (fuckin really?) to as high as $30 for a three month rental.

Wait, $30 for 90 days on a single game that I can get at Gamestop compared to $30 for a full year’s access to a number of archived games?

The juxtaposition is disproportionate and undeniable. Though Sony turned down EA’s offer to support Access on their platform – to be fair, Playstation Plus is a more robust and valued deal by far – EA Access seems to have their pricing right in comparison.

But with both programs being in beta, Playstation Now has the leg up on being the better service right out the gate. First off, there are 122 games currently available on Playstation Now. EA Access has a measly four. Secondly, Playstation Now is available on more platforms and devices than Access. EA’s program is locked into one for now; and a new console for that matter which will take quite some time to build any kind of significant library. Third, despite some positive reception on Playstation Now in private testing, what has remained a criticism is their pricing, and Sony’s listening. Sony has the good will of the gamer community in paying attention to what they have to say. Playstation Now’s pricing model, or just plain pricings in general, are extremely subject to change. Plus it’s also fair to assume that the astronomical pricings are a way for Sony to see just what they can get away with. Now they know.

But it’s difficult to see just how drastic Sony can change the pricing model of Playstation Now. EA’s Access program is so far on the other end of the spectrum with the cost a 90 day rental of a PS Now game that could pay for an entire year of service in Access. Another advantage EA has over Sony’s program is the way in which their titles are distributed. EA’s titles are downloaded. Play it from the hard drive and expect a seamless experience. Playstation Now on the other hand is dependent on Gaikai’s acquired servers for streaming, and there are reports of “varying degrees of success” with Playstation Now. Even several years after On Live, there’s still little confidence on internet infrastructures that can handle exclusive video game streaming.

EA has the correct model, but perhaps the wrong platform with such a limited selection of games. Sticking to Xbox One will only allow for a gradual build of appealing titles available. Playstation Now can simply change their pricing model to make its service more attractive. Can they make a full U-turn from game by game to subscription based? Unlikely, but who knows. However there’s still the concern of having a game that’s being streamed from thousands of miles away.

UPDATE: Reports indicate that Sony is also looking to add a subscription model alongside the individualized pricing on Playstation Now. I missed that point while writing the original post (Updated 8/3/2014).

No comments

Post a Comment

Newer Older