Playstation Now promises that you can play your favorite games like you do everything else in your life, from watching movies and TV to listening to music. They are starting a streaming video game service. My first reaction upon hearing this was “awesome!”, my second was “oh shit!”
Now this may seem like an odd thing to you, but it’s really not. I live in San Francisco California, one of the most populous and tech savvy cities in the United States. Quite literally down the road is Silicon Valley where some of the most impressive breakthroughs in computer technology are being discovered, and yet. I can sometimes barely watch a show in 480p on Netflix, because it is so choppy, with my PlayStation a mere 15 feet away from my router, which my ISP promises is supposed to deliver something like 75Mbps.
How is this thing possible, the answers are myriad, but it all comes down to the same thing, internet speed will and does vary, sometimes wildly, but most often minimally. I have the basic setup from the ISP, as I suspect do most people have the basic free install that most other ISP’s provide. What does this mean for Playstation Now?
Well the answer is not simple it means they may have to make a deal with certain ISP’s like Netflix just struck with Comcast, wherein they get preferred bandwidth for their service. That might certainly clear up a few issues, but what about lesser ISP’s they most likely cannot afford such a deal. Also as for the streaming does one have to buy these games outright or can they simply rent them and play them for a limited time, like back in my day. What if a gamer who subscribes to this service has shoddy internet and as a result his games lag, could this service set up the ultimate pay to win service, wherein those with the best equipment and paying for the largest bandwidth are ultimately the winners?
Now I know this all sounds fatalistic, but on the upside I am a Playstation fanboy. I am a longtime gamer and a semi long term writer. I am an early adopter and I most likely will adopt this as soon as it comes out. So why am I being pessimistic. I see the inherent potential in this service, it is a way to deliver a vast library of great, and compelling games to every gamer. It is a way of putting last gen games in the hands of next gen console users so that they can play the gems of the past with the current gen of technology. This does not however stop me from overlooking some of the inherent issues that many gamers are already talking about, most of which I have mentioned.
Very little is known so far about the new Playstation Now initiative, and perhaps many of those fears mentioned in this article and by other gamers are premature. Sony has always shown that they value their customer more than some other companies, and the freedom of said customers to do what they want with their product. I just hope that this continues to stay true and that as more news comes down the pipeline that many of these fears will be allayed, and not exacerbated.