The world of gaming is constantly evolving, shifting from old to new before you even know what’s happening. Not so long ago, in fact just one console generation ago, games were primarily purchased in their physical form with DLC-s coming for download after. With the coming of PS 4, Xbox One and platforms like Steam for PC, digital distribution has massively outweighed physical sales. The industry latched on since this kind of distribution cuts costs not having to produce copies and it’s much easier to release games worldwide at the same time.
The next logical step would be to eliminate owned games in full. Listening to the pulse of the industry it isn’t impossible to switch to full game streaming in just a few years time. This would mean you wouldn’t have to download or even buy games, you’ll just need to have a subscription for a streaming service. That service would provide you with a game catalogue which you’ll be able to access any time and ideally on any platform.
There already are services like this working today and we’ve decided to present the two most prominent ones to you.
Sony’s streaming service is the first one to officially bring some console exclusives to the PC. This service, however, isn’t limited to only bringing PS games to the PC – it also offers you a vast library of games form the PS2 and PS3 which you can play on the PS4 and, of course, PS 4 games that can be played without the need to purchase them. The only requirement is an active subscription and an internet speed of at least 5 Mbps (this is recommended, but the higher the better). If you’re by any chance skeptical of your speed and are worried about lag, you have the option do download all the games so you can play them directly. An additional feature important to PS 4 players is that this service unlocks online multiplayer play even if you don’t have PS Plus active.
So far so good, but there is one important thing to point out. Although you’ll have a library of over 500 games, both first and third party (ranging from PS 2, PS 3 and PS 4) with new ones added every month, the games aren’t new releases. The most prominent games are classics (Red Dead Redemption, Last of Us, God of War 3 Remastered, etc.) they’ve been out a while and chances are if PS 4 isn’t your first console, you’ve already played them. If, on the other hand, you’ve been a PC gamer, or are just now coming into your own this could be a great option for you to get everything you’ve missed in one place.
PS Now is available in subscriptions of one ($19.99/month), three ($44.99/3 months) and twelve months ($99.99/year), as well as a 7-day free trial.
Very similar to PS Now the Xbox Game Pass offers an online library of games that you can access without downloading them (although you have the option to do so). The main difference between the two are the games themselves. Whereas Sony has the bigger database, Microsoft has one that is much more up to date. Included in their library of over 200 games are all first party AAA titles already released and the same goes for those that will be released. What’s even better is that all those future games become available at the same time the games themselves hit the proverbial shelves – you’ll have access to them as soon as all of those who bought the games.
Furthermore, if you have a PC with Win 10, with the Play Anywhere initiative, you’ll get to play those games on your PC without having to purchase them separately. The downside is that most of the third party games on offer are also older (just like PS Now), while the exclusive Xbox games don’t exactly measure up to PS games (aside from Gears of War, Forza and older Halo games there really isn’t much here).
The price tag for this service is $9.99/month (and a $1 trial month) and is a singular price and you can unsubscribe any time you want. With this, more flexible, subscription model and the two-way console – PC cross functionality this could be an interesting option for those who use both platforms for games and especially those that prefer Microsoft exclusives.
Sony and Microsoft are currently running the cloud gaming market, but there are other big names getting into the field such as GeForce Now, Jump, and Project Stream but they are at this moment still in development and figuring out how to put their best foot forward and what they want to accomplish. For now, your best bet is to stick with the two that are proven to work.
With all the buzz surrounding streaming games and the signs the market is making it really wouldn’t be a surprise to witness a massive expansion in the sector in just a few years. For now, however you’ll still have to purchase your games the “old way” if you want to pick and choose and not just settle for somebody’s library.