JAN. 5, 2015 • Sony Computer Ent. of America (SCEA) has set pricing for its PlayStation Now subscription game streaming service starting January 13. Consumers will have a choice of two unlimited access subscription tiers: $19.99 per month or $44.99 for three months. PlayStation Now has more than 100 PS3 titles available to play with more expected to be added later. The service will be available only to PS4 owners at launch, with other systems to gain access in subsequent months. On December 23, Samsung Electronics Co., Ltd. announced that some of its Smart HDTVs would gain access to PlayStation Now during the first half of 2015. The service will be accessed via an app available on the TV’s Smart Hub. In related news, SCEA announced that 4.1 million PlayStation 4s had been sold globally during the holidays, with units sold to date hitting 18.5 million. As for software, 81.8 million PS4 game units have been sold at retail and via digital distribution since launch, with 17.8 million of them sold during the holidays.
Impact: These cumulative PlayStation 4 sales pretty much matched DFC Intelligence’s forecast of 18.3 million in expected sales through 2014. The challenge now is to continue to build on that solid first year start. We’re glad to see that Sony has decided what payment model to use with PlayStation Now. During the beta test last year after E3, game rentals could be had in four hour, seven day, 30 day and 90 day increments. Pricing for those amounts of playable time varied per game, but many desirable titles came in at $4.99, $6.99, $14.99 and $29.99, respectively. We did not expect the time-based model to fly in the long run, and by the public responses made by beta testers, our appraisal was widely shared. The subscription model SCEA has settled on fits squarely with other similar streaming service. What surprises us is that Sony is only supporting the PS4 starting next week. We suspect many PlayStation 4 owners view PS Now as backward compatibility that they may not desire to pay for. Where PS Now really needs to be available is on Bravia HDTVs and PS TV, where this content will be viewed more of a value-add. This PS4 exclusivity is even more curious given that PlayStation TV and PS Vita devices were supported in the beta. Samsung’s timetable of access by July probably tells us how long it will take Sony to get its other devices on board but we have a hard time seeing what the hold up is. Another question is the number of available games. One hundred titles seems rather a paltry offering at this stage after months of development. Once again, via Samsung we see a promise of 200 titles by the middle of 2015, but it would be better to have that release schedule clarified directly from Sony. PS Now is central to SCEA’s streaming plans so it is good to see the company firm up its business model. Unfortunately, we are not so sure the service is destined to be a winner based on what has been announced so far.