Are PlayStation gamers missing out without a game preview programme?

We recently recorded a podcast discussion, which will be released in the coming week, talking about the Xbox One and Steam game preview services. The main crux of it was that I felt PlayStation gamers were missing out, without an equivalent service. Being able to purchase and play games, before their full release, has been a feature on Steam for some time. A similar service has only been available on the Xbox One for a few months – but it’s much the same in concept.

I’m really enjoying the Xbox One game preview service, with ARK: Survival Evolved being my favourite game from that initiative. But I’ve also enjoyed Sheltered, Elite Dangerous and The Long Dark, all thanks to the service. Obviously, there’s a risk to it – the games could be buggy, or glitchy, and you still do have to pay for the titles (up to £20 for some). But, overall, I think that the service is great.

Personally, I feel that PlayStation gamers a missing out without a similar service. I believe that there are tonnes of smaller indie games out there – perhaps No Man’s Sky being the best known – which could really benefit from this type of service. The developers can let gamers test their titles, they can see how the players respond to the game, and they can work out where they need to improve on aspects of it. They can listen to the community, and make slight twists and changes to the final product, before release. In return, the gamers get to play these titles before their intended release. How long have PlayStation gamers been waiting for No Man’s Sky? Perhaps if gamers were able to play it and test it, before release, it may have even been released earlier? Who knows. Obviously, I can’t vouch for how “finished” a game like No Man’s Sky is – perhaps it’s pretty much unplayable in its current format, in which case releasing it early could damage the hype. But, at the same time, if they could deliver a good experience (like Studio Wildcard, and the rest of the developers, have managed with ARK) maybe they’d have built on that hype even more… if that’s even possible.

Of course, there are issues with this type of service – I’ve heard plenty of horror stories about Steam games which cost good money to preview, and ended up being an absolute flop. But, on the Xbox One at least, the service is quite well controlled, with a certain standard of game being offered out – rather than everything and anything. I think that this type of controlled service could work wonders on the PS4. It’s a service that gives the gamers the control. They can choose to spend their money to play a game early, or they can save their cash and invest upon its release. With the Xbox One, you can preview a game for free for an hour – which is a great way to make your mind up as to whether or not this is a game worth your time (pre-full release).

Alex (aka ThinkBad Monkey) however, was a little on the fence. He’s a PlayStation gamer, but he felt that he’d rather just have finished games on the PlayStation store – because he would prefer to spend his money on the final product. I can see that. But, at the same time, I like being given the option, and I think that’s what PlayStation gamers are missing out on – the choice to play a game that they might well be waiting to play, before the game’s actually supposed to be released. I feel that this is a service which will only gain in popularity, particularly with the sway towards betas and alphas over demos, and I’d imagine that Sony will make the move at some point.

What do you think? Do you agree with me, and would like the opportunity to preview unfinished games, for a price? Or are you happy with just waiting until the game has been fully released? Let me know in the comments below!