Let’s start things off by addressing the elephant in the room. This is not some fanboy flame war post that I whipped up to annoy Playstation owners. I own both a PS4 and an Xbox One, and I want to see both consoles succeed. You could certainly argue that Xbox needs more help in this regard, but I digress.
Both Microsoft and Sony recently showed their hand when it comes to their “next big thing” for buying digital games. Sony has offered game streaming/rentals via their “Playstation Now” streaming service for a few years now, but it was previously only for PS3 titles. At some point this year, that service will start to incorporate PS4 games as well. Xbox Game Pass will be Microsoft’s first foray into this kind of service and it looks to offer both Xbox One and Xbox 360 games.
On the surface, both services are very similiar. They provide a large catalog of games to “rent” for a small monthly fee. That fee provides access to any and all games available on the service at that time ALA services like Netflix. Where the two differentiate, is how they handle said rentals.
Playstation Now is currently focused solely on streaming games. Nothing is stored locally on your console, so the service cannot be used offline. Xbox Game Pass on the other hand, operates by letting you download games on the service directly to your console. You can then play said games offline for up to 30 days without “checking in” to prove that you either own them or subscribe to Xbox Game Pass.
Between the two services, Xbox Game Pass has a clear advantage over Playstation Now. Downloading games will save you bandwidth every month, and it generally gives you a bit more freedom to continue playing sans internet. However, I think the advantage becomes even greater when you factor in the “upgraded” consoles that both companies offer/will offer in the form of the PS4 Pro and Project Scorpio. Here’s how:
Both the PS4 Pro and Project Scorpio allow developers to optimize their games for the better hardware. This can mean displaying in 4K, optimizing assets for 1080p, or a combination of the two. Quite simply, owning the upgraded hardware should get you better looking games.
As Xbox Game Pass allows you to fully download games that you rent through the service, gamers can take fully advantage of Project Scorpio-optimized titles. Sony’s streaming method for PSNow does not save anything locally, and as such your console cannot offer an “upgraded” experience.
In summary, Playstation Now has a clear opportunity to offer benefits for PS4 Pro owners. Microsoft future-proofed Xbox Game Pass so that anyone who picks up Project Scorpio can benefit from optimized games. The impetus is on Sony here to make Playstation Now more valuable to their customers, and I surely hope they take a lesson from their competition. My personal suggestions would be to either offer “normal” and “Pro” options for streaming games, or to copy Microsoft’s approach and allow PS4 games to be downloaded to your console.
— Burdmayn out–