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Cloud gaming review using Playstation Plus

Written by Solène, on 13 March 2024.
Tags: #gaming #network

Comments on Fediverse/Mastodon

1. Introduction §

While testing the cloud gaming service GeForce Now, I've learned that PlayStation also had an offer.

Basically, if you use a PlayStation 4 or 5, you can subscribe to the first two tiers to benefit some services and games library, but the last tier (premium) adds more content AND allows you to play video games on a computer with their client, no PlayStation required. I already had the second tier subscription, so I paid the small extra to switch to premium in order to experiment with the service.

PlayStation Plus official website

2. Game library §

Compared to GeForce Now, while you are subscribed you have a huge game library at hand. This makes the service a lot cheaper if you are happy with the content. The service costs 160$€ / year if you take for 12 months, this is roughly the price of 2 AAA games nowadays...

3. Streaming service §

The service is only available using the PlayStation Plus Windows program. It's possible to install it on Linux, but it will use more CPU because hardware decoding doesn't seem to work on Wine (even wine-staging with vaapi compatibility checked).

There are no clients for Android, and you can't use it in a web browser. The Xbox Game Pass streaming and GeForce now services have all of that.

Sadness will start here. The service is super promising, but the application is currently a joke.

If you don't plug a PS4 controller (named a dualshock 4), you can't use the "touchpad" button, which is mandatory to start a game in Tales of Arise, or very important in many games. If you have a different controller, on Windows you can use the program "DualShock 4 emulator" to emulate it, on Linux it's impossible to use, even with a genuine controller.

A PS5 controller (dualsense) is NOT compatible with the program, the touchpad won't work.

DualShock4 emulator GitHub project page

Obviously, you can't play without a controller, except if you use a program to map your keyboard/mouse to a fake controller.

4. Gaming quality §

There are absolutely no settings in the application, you can run a game just by clicking on it, did I mention there are no way to search for a game?

I guess games are started in 720p, but I'm not sure, putting the application full screen didn't degrade the quality, so maybe it's 1080p but doesn't go full screen when you run it...

Frame rate... this sucks. Games seem to run on a PS4 fat, not a PS4 pro that would allow 60 fps. On most games you are stuck with 30 fps and an insane input lag. I've not been able to cope with AAA games like God of War or Watch Dogs Legion as it was horrible.

Independent games like Alex Kidd remaster, Monster Boy or Rain World did feel very smooth though (60fps!), so it's really an issue with the hardware used to run the games.

Don't expect any PS5 games in streaming from Windows, there are none.

The service allows PlayStation users to play all games from the library (including PS5 games) in streaming up to 2160p@120fps, but not the application users. This feature is only useful if you want to try a game before installing it, or if your PlayStation storage is full.

5. Cloud saving §

This is fun here too. There are game saves in the PlayStation Plus program cloud, but if you also play on a PlayStation, their saves are sent to a different storage than the PlayStation cloud saves.

There is a horrible menu to copy saves from one pool to the other.

This is not an issue if you only use the stream application or the PlayStation, but it gets very hard to figure where is your save if you play on both.

6. Conclusion §

I have been highly disappointed by the streaming service (outside PlayStation use). The Windows programs required to sign in twice before working (I tried on 5 devices!), most interesting games run poorly due to a PS4 hardware, there is no way to enable the performance mode that was added to many games to support the PS4 Pro. This is pretty curious as the streaming from a PlayStation device is a stellar experience, it's super smooth, high quality, no input lag, no waiting, crystal clear picture.

No Android application? Curious... No support for a genuine PS5 controller, WTF?

The service is still young, I really hope they will work at improving the streaming ecosystem.

At least, it works reliably and pretty well for simpler games.

It could be a fantastic service if the following requirements were met:

  • proper hardware to run games at 60fps
  • greater controller support
  • allow playing in a web browser, or at least allow people to run it on smartphones with a native application
  • an open source client while there
  • merged cloud saves