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Sony Can’t Quite Get the Hang of PS Now

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If ever you wanted an example of a company who just can’t quite get the hang of a modern, digital marketplace, look no further than Sony with their PS Now.

The idea behind the program is actually pretty good: In theory, if you don’t want to actually buy the game, but just want to rent it, you can pay a small amount of money to have access rights to a game for a set amount of time before access is once again restricted. It’s ideal if you just want to test a game out, or if you just want to beat a game once, but you aren’t convinced there’s enough replay value to justify the $60 or $70 purchase. Many single player games can be beaten in 10 hours tops (unless you’re looking at an open world game, that is,) so this is an ideal trade-off: A good way for Sony to get money from people who would only rent and never buy.

Unfortunately for Sony, their idea of “pay a small amount of money” to “rent” the game is hilariously absurd. In the closed beta, renting Final Fantasy XIII-2 for four hours cost $5, and $30 for 90 days, when in comparison the game is available on Amazon for $17. Prices have perhaps changed a little now that they’re in open beta, but the prices are still ridiculous.

This debacle shows they have absolutely no sense of value of time or of the game from the perspective of the consumer. It used to be back in the day I could go to Blockbuster and rent a game for $5, and play it as much as I wanted for a week before returning it.

Renting the game for any significant amount of time costs a lot more than simply going to a used game store and buying the game there. Hell, it’s cheaper to get the game used from GameStop: A company commonly mocked for overpricing used games.

If you’re curious about the insane price differences I’m talking about, GameSpot did the work of comparing the difference between buying some of the games and renting them.

As I said before, this could actually be a beneficial system for both the consumer and the publisher. I can sympathize with Sony: they need to find that delicate sweet spot where the prices are considered fair and reasonable, but not so cheap that it cuts into their actual game sales.

At the same time, this is not the way to go. It just makes Sony look stingy and out of the loop.

One interesting compromise that could work was proposed by Kyle Orland over at ARS Technica: metered gaming. Instead of paying for a specific amount of time, charge a small amount per hour. His suggestion is about $1/hour, and that… that actually makes a lot of sense. 60 hours is usually enough to beat most games, and if you think you’re going to go over that, it’s worth buying.

If Sony is going to make this system works, it really needs to rethink how it’s going to price rentals, and really ask gamers how they value games. Rentals that cost more than the price of the game used shouldn’t exist. It’s borderline insulting.

Sony, get your head out of your ass, already. Your PS Now prices are insane.

About Stephen Crane

Stephen was hooked by the NES at a very young age and never looked back. He games on a daily basis and is currently trying to climb his way up the ranked ladder on League of Legends! Outside of the video game world he actually likes running and owns a rapidly growing collection of toed shoes. Stephen Crane is the owner of Armed Gamer.

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