PS Now gets its first-ever day one release - but it isn't as great as it seems

PS Now
(Image credit: Sony)

Shadow Warrior 3 will launch on PS Now on day one, developer Flying Wild Hog has announced. It's the first time a game has ever done so on Sony's subscription-based service, as the game will otherwise cost $49.99 / £39.99 when bought from the PlayStation Store.

The announcement happened over on the official PlayStation blog, where Shadow Warrior 3 lead producer Bartek Sawicki detailed gameplay of the shooter, launching on March 1, as well as concluding with the fact that the game will be ready to play for PS Now subscribers on the day of release.

PlayStation Now, up to this point, has allowed players to both download and/or stream games from an extensive library featuring many of the best PS4 games, as well as a healthy selection from the PS3 and PS2, lending an impressive amount of backward compatibility available to PS4 and PS5 players for a monthly subscription fee.

Opinion: the shot in the arm PS Now needs?

PS Now has become a fine service over the years, offering a solid alternative to Xbox Game Pass for those who prefer to play on PS5 or PS4. However, it's never quite been able to stack up to Xbox's excellent subscription service, which is consistently updated with new titles on a regular basis, many of which are also day one releases from Microsoft Game Studios, third-party developers as well as smaller indie creators.

It's almost bizarre, then, that Shadow Warrior 3 is the very first game to launch on PS Now, from day one, in the subscription service's eight-year history. Hopefully, though, if Shadow Warrior 3 is well received and proves to be a popular PS Now title, it could set a trend for more day one releases on the service further down the line.

And that's something PS Now could certainly use. We're likely never going to see Sony's AAA first-party efforts come to PS Now on day one, so it needs other areas to which it can compete with Xbox Game Pass.  That's especially so when you take into account additional features available through the Xbox Game Pass Ultimate tier, which include access to Xbox Cloud Gaming and PC Game Pass.

While Shadow Warrior 3 is a PS4 game first, it will also have some enhancements for those playing on PS5, such as an improved framerate and a higher resolution. You will get those enhancements on PS5, but it certainly isn't a native PS5 title. Either way, it means that PS Now still doesn't have any PS5 games to its name.

That's in stark contrast to Xbox Game Pass which, as of August 2021, has 62 Xbox Series X/S enhanced games, many of which aren't even first party Microsoft Game Studios games. As such, we feel as if Sony should be less anxious about putting PS5 games onto PS Now, as it would certainly make the service look more appealing in the long run.

More day one releases, then, could certainly grant PS Now more leverage among its competition, especially if it's offering day one launches that you won't find anywhere else. We'll also be interested to see if Shadow Warrior 3's addition to PS Now ends up being part of a larger deal with publisher Devolver Digital, or if it's merely a one-off experiment on Sony's part to gauge whether day one launches on its subscription platform help to bolster its numbers.

Rhys Wood
Hardware Editor

Rhys is TRG's Hardware Editor, and has been part of the TechRadar team for more than two years. Particularly passionate about high-quality third-party controllers and headsets, as well as the latest and greatest in fight sticks and VR, Rhys strives to provide easy-to-read, informative coverage on gaming hardware of all kinds. As for the games themselves, Rhys is especially keen on fighting and racing games, as well as soulslikes and RPGs.