Sony has announced that, starting today, their PlayStation Now streaming service will now allow people to download the vast majority of PS4 and PS2 games in the PS Now catalogue directly to their PS4. While I’m unable to verify this at the moment, the announcement appears limited to the US and Canada. There’s been no announcement for the EU, so I assume this feature is not (yet) available there. Even so, this means that PS Now suddenly became a lot more interesting. In my review of the PS Now version of Gravity Rush Remastered, I noted the drawbacks of playing the game on Sony’s streaming service. We can reasonably assume that all of those drawbacks will be resolved with this download option. Once you download the game rather than stream it, it plays just like a regular digital PS4 game. This means you’ll also be able to use DLC or other add-on content, benefit from PS4 Pro enhancements, and interestingly you won’t actually need a PlayStation Plus membership for online multiplayer on PS Now.
This suddenly makes the service a lot more interesting, not just because the games look and play better when played directly from the PS4, but also because people with slower internet connections may now also have a reason to subscribe to PS Now. Sony does state that users will need to connect their PS4 system to the internet every few days to verify their PS Now subscription, in order to continue playing the games (even downloaded ones). This requirement seems a tad surprising, as Microsoft tried to do the same thing for the Xbox One and was forced to abandon the idea due to heavy consumer backlash. The difference here, of course, is the fact that it’s a requirements limited to PS Now, a service that was strictly online-only until now. Nonetheless, it’s interesting to see Sony add this limitation, keeping in mind that streaming services may end up replacing traditional consoles in the future.
Sony does note that PS Now download support isn’t available for PS3 games. Unlike Microsoft’s impressive (and free) Xbox One backward compatibility for a wide range of Xbox 360 and even Xbox One games, Sony hasn’t added emulation support for PS3 games on the PS4. This leaves them unable to offer a download option for these games, as they simply can’t run from the PS4. Another potential drawback is the fact that transferring savegames from PS Now to your local PS4 hard drive does require a PS+ subscription.
Sony says the download feature will be gradually rolled out to PS Now subscribers over the next couple of days. I hope those who have a subscription will check out Gravity Rush Remastered!