Hey, Sony, We Don’t Need a New Streaming Service. Make PS Now Better

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Photo: Sam Rutherford/Gizmodo

After days of rumors that Sony is adding a video streaming service to its existing PlayStation Plus, the company confirmed today that it’s testing one such service in Poland. I don’t know about you, but I’m so over new video streaming services. There are just too many of them. PlayStation Now, Sony’s cloud gaming service for PS games, is a much more exciting avenue to expand and improve upon, even though it’s often forgotten about.

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According to Spider’s Web, PlayStation is launching a 12-month test for its PS Plus service called PlayStation Plus Video Pass in conjunction with Sony Pictures Entertainment in Poland. Gizmodo was able to confirm this independently with a company spokesperson, who verified PlayStation Plus Video Pass would be a part of Poland-based members’ existing PS Plus subscription.

The streaming service will be available for PS4 and PS5 consoles, and will include several Sony Pictures-produced films and TV shows like Blade Runner 2049, Bad Boys (1995), and all six seasons of Community, for a total of 15 films and six television series.

Nick Maguire, Sony Interactive Entertainment’s vice president of global services, told Spider’s Web that Poland is an ideal location to test the new PS Plus service because of the country’s large PlayStation player-base who “stand out due to their commitment and activity in the network and social media” and VoD (video-on-demand) use. On the surface that makes sense, yet these are films and shows that can be found on other VoD and streaming services like Amazon Prime Video. The testing phase will show if PlayStation Plus Video Pass is successful in Poland, but with consumers already overwhelmed with the amount of streaming services available, is there really a need for another one?

Sony is late to the game on this. It recently backtracked on its decision to shut down its PS3 and PS Vita stores, but it officially shut down Vue, its streaming television service, in January 2020, pointing customers toward the PlayStation Store if they wanted to watch movies and TV content via their PS4—the same store that will no longer offer VoD services as of Aug. 31.

PlayStation cited “tremendous growth from PlayStation fans using subscription-based and ad-based entertainment streaming services on our consoles.” So why would Sony use VoD as a metric to determine if its new streaming service would be successful in Poland if it already knows streaming services are popular among PlayStation users? Maybe it wants to test-drive a streaming service specifically for Sony Pictures-produced content, in the same way Paramount+ and Disney+ have corralled their own content on their own streaming services.

One PlayStation service not available in Poland is PS Now, Sony’s cloud gaming service, which has been around for several years but is often forgotten about because, well, it’s just not that great. PS Now has improved slightly over the years, but it still lags way behind other cloud gaming services, and Sony should focus on making it better rather than testing yet another streaming video service.

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PS Now is a separate $10/month service from PS Plus. It’s only available on PC. Not Mac. Not Android. Not iOS. Not Google Chrome. Sony has a Remote Play app that lets PS4 and PS5 owners play their games on any device, but the other device must be connected to your home network and the PlayStation must be turned on. True cloud gaming from Sony is only available on Windows PC.

Additionally, PS Now only supports the use of a PS4 controller, even with games like Detroit: Become Human that were eventually ported to PC. Not all PS Now games are available on an ongoing basis, the PC app interface is slow and clunky, and the actual connection could use some work. But in some good news, PS Now is finally getting support for streaming 1080p-capable games beginning this week. For a cloud gaming service that’s been around for years, it’s incredible that Sony is only just enabling 1080p streaming.

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Sony’s competitors, including Microsoft and Nvidia, have prioritized making gaming possible on any device with a good internet connection, and yet cloud gaming is still an afterthought for PlayStation. It has an opportunity to make its exclusive games available through PS Now at launch, and since non-PS users will need to subscribe to PS Plus for access, it can draw in new users. I’m sure some details will need to be worked out with the game developers but, oh man, it would be nice if PlayStation had a cloud gaming ecosystem like Xbox or GeForce Now.

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Correction 4/22/21 6:02 PM ET: PS Now is only available to those who have a PSN account, which does not include PS Plus.

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