PlayStation Now opens up online game rentals

PlayStation Now enters open beta testing, allowing PS4 owners to rent games online for a few hours or several months. 

Jason DeCrow/AP
PlayStation executive Adam Boyes, second left, watches a gamer play Dying Light at the PlayStation 4 launch event, Thursday, Nov. 14, 2013, in New York.

Sony is asking gamers for feedback on the new PlayStation Now online rental program, which enters open beta testing on Thursday. PlayStation 4 owners interested in the service should consider its rental time limits, your own home Internet bandwidth, and the other limitations that this new format may eventually entail.

The PlayStation Now service, available only in the US and Canada, offers gamers more than 100 titles that they may stream over the Internet.

People can get a taste for a game with a four-hour rental for $2.99. Other tiers include seven days ($5.99), 30 days ($7.99), and 90 days ($14.99) with a game.

These are not downloads or Gamefly-style mail-in subscription rentals. The games run on a Sony server and streams into your house. This means you need to be connected to the Internet for the service to work – and you need pretty good home bandwidth speeds or PlayStation Now will stutter and fail.

A video announcement on the PlayStation blog talks about the service’s “fast and stable broadband connection,” which eventually will allow access to a number of PlayStation Network and PlayStation 3 games online.

PS Now also supports trophies, friend lists, and leader boards.

In addition, PS4 owners using the PS Now service will be able to play online with other PS Now users or PlayStation 3 owners with physical or downloaded versions of the games.

This still leaves the question of how gamers will handle their frustrations when titles are eventually decommissioned by the service. Might your favorite game be available one week and gone the next?

In a promotional video, senior director for PS Now Jack Buser hinted that the good news for fans of hard-to-find games is that they may soon begin to find them available for rent via PS Now.

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