Sony’s online game streaming service PlayStation Now is in closed beta (the open beta is coming July 31) and the price to rent games isn’t going over so well with PlayStation 3 and PlayStation 4 owners.
Games range from $3 to $5 for four hours of play time, $6 to $8 for a week, and $15 to $30 for 90 days, depending on what size and how old or new they are. Sony promised a subscription payment model but it isn’t available yet, along with functionality on the PlayStation Vita and Sony Bravia television sets.
Over on the official FAQ for the service, Sony said its “testing multiple pricing tiers” during the beta. That means the prices are not final and could change when the service officially launches.
As a beta tester, you do not have to pay to test the service. Not buying access to the games is testing by itself. Sony will likely receive data to see what prices were most popular and which ones people didn’t seem to be willing to pay for one reason or another. You shouldn’t expect the service to be perfect immediately. Sony wouldn’t call it a beta if it had it all figured out.
And if you do rent a game and see terrible bouts of lag, that’s part of testing too. It’s easy to forget these days of alphas and betas that testing incomplete things means they are probably not going to work. Sure, it might be a bit worrying that in beta form the service is having trouble keeping up, but notice how Sony hasn’t put a release date on it yet? Right now, all we know is its inviting everyone to test PlayStation Now at the end of July. Test, not use. So, no. You don’t deserve a refund. You were not tricked into spending money. It’s not finished.
The lesson here is to understand that the “alpha” and “beta” terms these days, when it comes to software at least, are muddy. Games launch on Steam and Kickstarter all the time that claim they are in beta but more accurately resemble an alpha. The Destiny alpha earlier this month was not indicative of any common definition of alpha. Beta games have similar problems, and sometimes companies will exploit the term beta to continue developing and fixing bugs while people are paying for their game. It gets worse when finished games aren’t even defined correctly. Battlefield 4, at least from the outside, sounded more like a beta than a complete game.
The next time you get access to a beta, whether its something like PlayStation Now or a game, it’s best to have the right expectations. Because in betas, anything can go wrong.
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