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Sony: Downloadable PlayStation Now games are played twice as much

Here's a rather interesting bit of news. PlayStation Now started out as a cloud streaming service — a way for Sony to address its lack of PS3 backward compatibility on the PS4. It turns out, however, the service is far more popular for playing downloadable titles.

This revelation comes straight from Sony itself, according to GamesIndustry.biz. Sony told investors last week that downloaded games are played twice as much as streaming games on PlayStation Now, which means the PS2 and PS4 libraries on the service are getting a lot more love than the streaming-only PS3 titles Sony's made available.

Or, to put it in more blunt terms: Sony's streaming play is taking a backseat to the more Game Pass-like functions of PlayStation Now.

On one hand, the addition of downloadable games has helped the service. PlayStation Now currently sits at 700,000 subscribers, and has grown by nearly 40% every year. But one can't help but wonder how Sony is reacting internally to the fact that the majority of subscribers don't want to stream. Sony's dumped a lot of money into the streaming aspect of PlayStation Now, having purchased Gaikai for $380 million back in 2012, as well as the remaining assets of streaming service OnLive in 2015.

Yet gamers themselves aren't quite ready for that future — at least not yet.

If you look at Sony's competitors, such as Microsoft and now Google, their actions seem to indicate that streaming is where video games are headed. It almost feels unavoidable, if you look at the amount of investment those companies are pouring into streaming infrastructure. But PlayStation Now has nearly five years of experience under its belt, and its customers are telling a very different tale. They don't seem to believe streaming is where it needs to be right now. Or that it offers as compelling an experience.

So if you let them download a game and play it in high fidelity — without input lag or compression artifacts — they'd much rather do that.

We'll have to see where Stadia is at when it launches, and how far Project xCloud has come when it arrives on the scene. But if Sony's PlayStation Now data is indicative of a larger industry trend — one where streaming is not an acceptable way to play for most people — those efforts may have a harder time getting off the ground.