PlayStation Now, Sony's ambitious cloud gaming initiative, will go into open beta on PlayStation 4 in North America on July 31st. Although Sony has been operating a closed beta on PlayStation 3 and 4 for some months, the open beta will start with PS4 before expanding to PS3, PS Vita, and the newly-announced PlayStation TV in succession. To date, PS Now has been focused on streaming PS3 games over the internet to other PS3 consoles.
Sony plans to offer subscription options later
Sony isn't saying what the software lineup will be when the beta launches, but there will be more than 100 titles available from first- and third-party studios. Pricing has been announced for the first time, however — most games will be priced between $2.99 and $19.99 depending on the rental period, though Sony notes that it plans to offer subscription options later and that "publishers and developers will ultimately decide their game price points."
The exact business model of PS Now has been hard to pin down since Sony announced the service at CES 2014. At the show, PlayStation VP of marketing John Koller indicated to The Verge that "the ownership component and the PlayStation Now component are two different entities," meaning that you won't "own" games streamed through the service as you would if you bought a digital download. "I think the ideal would be, 'You’ve played it, if you like it, now would you like to purchase it?’" he said.
Still, we should get a better indication of how Sony plans to justify charging up to $19.99 for PS Now rentals once the open beta goes live next month. Sony says it's also working on expanding the service to Europe and Japan.