PlayStation Now, Sony’s subscription service for streaming older games, is going to start letting you download games as well, putting it more in line with Xbox Game Pass and Nintendo’s recently launched Switch Online NES library.
A post over at the PlayStation blog revealed that starting today PS Now subscribers will be able to download most PS4 and PS2 games currently in the PS Now library and play them locally, offline. “Almost all PS4 games in the service, including Bloodborne, God of War 3 Remastered, NBA 2K16, and Until Dawn, will be available for download, in addition to the PS Now lineup of classic PS2 games remastered for PS4,” the announcement reads. “This feature will be gradually rolled out to PS Now subscribers over the next couple of days, so if you don’t see the feature on your PS Now today, make sure to check back again soon.”
While being connected to the internet isn’t required to play PS Now games once they’ve been downloaded, the support page says your system will have to go online “every few days” in order to validate the PS Now subscription.
I’m not sure who would want to go back to NBA 2K16 at this point, but the PS Now library does include lots of other games worth revisiting, such as Gravity Rush Remastered, XCOM 2, and one my personal favorites: Rogue Galaxy for the PS2. At the same time, the majority of PS2 games currently playable on PS4 aren’t included in PS Now, so it remains to be seen if Sony will begin building up that library in the future.
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This new PS Now feature, rumors of which first appeared back in June, is basically what Microsoft’s Game Pass has been doing since it launched last year. Xbox’s monthly subscription program lets you choose from the hundred plus games included in its catalog, download them, and play them as long as you stay subscribed. At first the games it included weren’t worth the price of admission, but in the months since it’s grown into a really great program that includes first-party games and some third-party games as soon as they release, rather than just older stuff. For instance, when Forza Horizon 4 releases on October 2, it will also be available the same day on Game Pass. While adding the option to download PS Now games moves the service in this direction, it seems unlikely Sony will be pushing its exclusives like God of War or Spider-Man onto it.
In the past, PS Now had been exclusively for streaming games to your PS4. When it was announced in 2014, it was building off of Sony’s 2012 acquisition of the Gaikai video game streaming service. While it offered a way for people to play older games on the newer console (since, unlike Xbox One, the PS4 isn’t backwards compatible), it was hardly ideal due to problems with latency and its reliance on a consistently strong internet connection. Honestly, the only surprise here is that Sony didn’t make this move sooner.
PS Now is currently $10 a month thanks to a promotion running until September 25, down from a usual $20. With Xbox Game Pass still going strong and Switch Online’s newly-launched feature of 20 NES games as part of a $4 monthly subscription, it seems as though the “Netflix of games” sea change people have been asking about for years is finally upon us.