In addition to its popular PlayStation gaming consoles, Sony (NYSE: SNE) also offers PlayStation Now, a subscription-based streaming service which lets users play older games on their WIndows PC or on the PlayStation 4.
The company launched the service with over 450 games designed for its older PS3 console. After a free seven-day trial, subscribers pay $19.99 a month for access to the titles, which can be played on any PS4 or a compatible PC as long as the user has a compatible DualShock 4 controller and at least a 5Mbs broadband Internet connection, the company explained on the signup web page for the service.
This was a smart way for Sony to reach casual gamers, or those unwilling to shell out for a PS4. It was also an easy way for the company to monetize its library of older titles, which includes earlier editions of many of its most-successful franchises. That could in theory create even more demand for its current-generation console.
Sony next big addition to the PlayStation Now roster will be some titles created for PS4. These won't be the latest greatest -- the ones that cost $59.99 or more in stores; instead, they will be earlier releases for the platform.
What is Sony doing?
"We're excited to announce that PS Now's catalog is set to grow even further, as we'll be expanding to include a new platform: PlayStation 4 games," wrote Sony Senior Marketing Manager Brian Dunn on the PlayStation Now blog. " All of the games in the service, including PS4 games, will be included with a single PS Now subscription."
No launch date was given for the new titles, with Dunn noting that a beta test would be conducted with some current subscribers. Sony also declined to name any of the titles it would be adding to the streaming service, which lets users begin playing games without the long downloads associated with buying a digital version of a game for PS4 or other consoles.
Will this work?
Recurring subscription revenue generally trumps selling a low-margin piece of hardware then hoping consumers buy software. With PS Now, Sony has made its PS4 console more useful, while also offering its game library to other customers. It's easy to see that service expanding, and perhaps even supplanting the current model where consumers own individual games. That's essentially what happened in the music industry, and Sony appears ahead of the curve in the gaming space, which should mean it's well-positioned if a similar change occurs.
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