- Sony has introduced a new movie rental and streaming service called Sony Pictures Core for PS4 and PS5, which also includes a free movie collection for PS Plus Premium users.
- A lackluster library, strong competitors, omission of Pure Stream, and region restriction are some of the factors that shake the foundation of this service.
- When we demanded more value and benefits for PS Plus after the price hike, a movie collection was the last thing we would have wanted.
Why do we opt for gaming subscription services? When individual titles start costing above $60, these services become a godsend. Like a game enough to try it but not as much as to warrant spending full price on it? Have no fear, subscriptions have you covered. Not only can you get access to your wanted games, but some titles lying around that you have no idea of get to be noticed too. That’s all good, but what if the service suddenly increases the price by a staggering amount with no additional benefits?
This is a critical issue recently as PS Plus increased its pricing and was hit with a pretty serious backlash. However, to justify the hike, Sony has released a new service in the form of Sony Pictures Core. A sort of movie streaming addition on top of existing benefits may seem like a good deal right now, but after the discussion, I’ll ask you again if this truly justifies the increased pricing.
Introducing Sony Pictures Core (formerly Bravia Core), coming to PS5 and PS4 today. The entertainment app gives PlayStation players exclusive benefits including early access to select Sony Pictures films.
— PlayStation (@PlayStation) October 5, 2023
What Is Sony Pictures Core?
You might be wondering what exactly is Sony Pictures Core and what benefits it provides. So let’s take a look at the service’s features. You know of BRAVIA Core, yes? Sony’s movie rental and streaming service for its BRAVIA TVs? This is essentially a re-branding of that service and has launched on the PS4 and PS5. Most of the features of BRAVIA Core are retained and are now made available for PlayStation users.
You can purchase or rent more than 2,000 movies that can subsequently be streamed on your console. In addition, you’re given an exclusive window to buy or rent select Sony Pictures movies close to their release. For now, this service is available in around 23 markets. The purchased movies have IMAX-enhanced playback so you can enjoy them in higher quality.
I’ve previously used BRAVIA Core and this is close to what was available before. Now, for the new features. For PS Plus Premium/Deluxe subscribers, the service provides a catalog of around 100 movies that can be streamed at no additional charges. The lineup will be changed periodically and in addition, the service will include an anime selection from the prior-acquired Crunchyroll in the future. This is a step to make the Premium tier more attractive, but let me ask you this, does it accomplish the job?
Why Such A Horrible Lineup?
Okay, I admit I was quite fascinated by Sony Pictures Core and thought that even though it’s not gaming-related, this addition might add some value to the PS Plus Premium tier. Purchasing movies through the service is a different argument, but at least the free catalog was a plus point. However, that was before I knew what movies would be included in the service, and trust me the excitement vanished without a trace.
Go and take a look at that library and you’ll understand my frustration. What even is that selection? I don’t even know most of these movies. Other than some good titles like Hancock and The Fifth Element, it is mostly just obscure movies I’m sure many people don’t even care about. Is this what Sony decided to compensate us with for the increased pricing? If they wanted the service to get an initial boost, a better library should’ve been the first step.
Looking back, I was hoping I was about to get the Spiderverse movies which even though I’ve watched, would have given them another try anyway since Marvel’s Spider-Man 2 is upon us. Imagine my disappointment when I saw this lineup. I believe many people who have already watched this catalog, which I’m pretty sure they have, won’t be tempted to give the service a try just to watch these obscure flicks again. This brings us to the next point, competition.
Almost Everyone Has A Netflix Subscription These Days
Sony Pictures Core’s most critical flaw is the towering competition it is going against. The movie streaming service industry is pretty saturated these days, with many strong options like Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime, and Disney Plus. If this is the case, help me understand the tactic here. Sony is going against these established giants, yet includes age-old obscure flicks no one cares about to kick things off? Did they genuinely think things through?
Not only did Sony put forth unknown titles, but almost all of them are available in some way on another streaming service more popular than Sony’s version. If these options are available on a service you already own, would you be tempted to get another one with almost no additional benefits? I highly doubt that. Another important thing to mention here is the Sony and Netflix deal. Since Netflix has exclusive rights to new Sony Pictures releases for a specific time, what is the purpose of buying the new service?
And if that wasn’t troublesome enough, some of the prices for rental on Sony Pictures Core are pretty cruel. $20 for a single rental is more than the entire cost of another, much better service. Honestly, it’s quite unfortunate as Sony’s service offers IMAX-enhanced playback not available anywhere, yet Sony failed to make it more attractive than the competitors everyone owns nowadays, simply because of a very disappointing starting library. It might get better with time, but I don’t see any reason to invest currently.
Sony Pictures Core Leaves Several Features On The Table
If this is not enough to convince you Sony fumbled this opportunity, let me add on. An important feature that could have made Sony Pictures Core more attractive was to transfer the users’ purchases on the now-ceased PlayStation Video service onto this new one. Closing the service out of the blue led to a loss for many users in the long run. Even though Sony allowed access to already-purchased media, some of it was lost and this step could have been a compensation.
Honestly, I don’t see anyone repurchasing stuff they already had acquired from the store earlier and it didn’t transfer to the service. Even more so when the unpredictable doom of the service looms overhead, no one wants a repeat of the PlayStation Video scenario. Moving on, there’s another missed opportunity; the lack of Pure Stream. If this is a rebrand of BRAVIA Core, why does it not have the features its predecessor did?
If you don’t know about Pure Stream, it enables streaming at the 80Mbps bitrate, straight-up Blu-Ray level, which was a pretty big deal, yet Sony Pictures Core omits it. I understand Pure Stream is more costly for Sony too, but so are the price increases they issued. As I mentioned the individual cost of products is higher too, and the presence of Pure Stream would have justified the higher prices. For now, I don’t think it’s not worth it.
Probably the most critical issue of Sony’s new adventure is the region-lock. If you tell me that the 100 or so movies no matter how lackluster are enough to attract you despite the PS Plus’ high prices, I can still understand that. But what about users outside the supported regions who got a price hike? They don’t get those movies either. Is there any reason for them to continue supporting Sony when they were not even considered? It’s quite a sticky situation.
Give Us More Gaming Benefits, Sony
I’ve gone through some of the shortcomings of Sony Pictures Core, but there is still a logical problem at the core of it. For a moment, assume it had a decent selection. What even was the need for a movie catalog in a gaming subscription service? Was there a particular demand for it? If I’m buying a service for games, I expect to see games in it, not movies. Doesn’t matter if the movies are exceptional, the problem is I already have an option for those, I came to this service the fulfill my gaming needs.
Sony should’ve considered the demands of the fans before issuing a feature. If they increased the prices, at least an equal incentive should’ve been the priority. Instead, this looks like the company raised the prices and is now forcing movies on us as justification even though no one asked for it. If they wanted to push the movie initiative, a separate tier could have been created with an increased price instead of a service-wide price hike.
I wonder why we’re getting unwanted features instead of actual improvements. PS Plus Premium’s additional features gave it nothing to surpass the Extra tier, and this should have been the focus. Instead of the disappointing cloud streaming, native support for classics could be an enormous addition. Still, if that’s too much at least consider additional games or DLCs to be included in the Premium tier. This movie catalog is nothing but a needless mess.
So, what do you think about the service now? In conclusion, Sony Pictures Core leaves a lot to be desired. It fails to make the PS Plus Premium stand out and is not justification enough for the price hike. Movies in a gaming service were unwanted, to begin with, but putting that aside and considering a niche audience, it still lacks a lot like a decent catalog, PureStream, and region restriction. If Sony intends to pursue this, some additional features are required to make the service stand out.
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