Sony has a PlayStation Now problem

Enlarge (credit: Aurich Lawson)

Today, every major gaming company and its subsidiary cousin is aiming to be the “Netflix of games” in some form or another. Xbox Game Pass, Apple Arcade, Google Play Pass, Ubisoft’s UPlay+, EA Access, and even Nintendo’s Switch Online all bundle together access to dozens or hundreds of games for one low monthly fee.

And then there’s PlayStation Now. Sony’s service started offering monthly subscription game bundles back in the beginning of 2015, long before most of the competition. But a mix of confused marketing and limited access to Sony’s own first-party catalog has left the service to languish with just one million subscribers (compared to a reported 9.5 million monthly subscribers for Xbox Game Pass) [Update: Replaced outdated 700,000 subscriber number for PS Now from May]. Despite its head start, PlayStation Now runs the risk of being lapped by the subscription competition in the market and the public consciousness.

When PS Now was PS Then

Many of PlayStation Now’s problems can be traced back to its launch. Back in 2014, the service introduced itself by charging ridiculously high, single-game, time-limited rental rates for streaming access to a small selection of PS3 classics. After just a few months, that changed to an all-you-can-stream subscription model that included functional streams of 100 PS3 games for $15 to $20 a month.

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