Tuesday, January 20, 2009

I really want to love you.

I really do, PlayStation brand. I mean the intentions are there. You want to make a portable gaming device that has robust media capabilities. Great, I game and I listen to music, I'm in. You want to make a home console with really awesome and reliable hardware and online features matching XBoxLIVE. Cool, I'm in $600. But lately... I'm losing faith.

I saw that the PS3's new firmware is coming soon. Oh good, my smiley face picture sorting needs have so far been woefully unmet by my video game console. Seriously, Sony PS3 firmware team? Seriously? This is what you're spending your months developing? Do you need any ideas for what you could be more useful? I'll give you one right now.

When a friend messages me, I go to my friends list on the XMB. My natural instinct is to press X and go into that friend's menu to check the messages he's sent me.

Ok, I'm here. Where's the "check messages from this user" button? Sorry for small image, but if you look closely the only buttons there are "Create New message", "Compare Trophies", and "Start Chat".

So if I want to see the message list, I have to go back out to the XMB, press triangle to bring up the friend's menu and then click "View Messages".

I go through this process EVERY time I want to check my messages. It's been month since that main friend's page was implemented yet the issue has never come to the firmware team's attention. Arguably I'm being really picky about a small issue like this. Let's look at the bigger picture.

The hardware and software developments of the PS3 and XBox360 this generation have made me realize how different Microsoft and Sony are as companies. Microsoft is the software giant. Windows, .NET, Visual Studio, Office, MSSQL, XNA, the list goes on. MS makes software for and supports a large IT development community. Believe me, I work with the stuff everyday as an IT consultant. I'm pretty sure they know a thing or two about developing software with a specific user in mind. More specifically we can look at the new group chat feature in the New XBox Experience as an example of MS developing a feature based on a specific user need.

When my friends and I were playing COD4 last year we wanted to keep our voice chat to ourselves. The solution? Break out laptops and PSP's to use Skype. MS recognized this kind of user experience and integrated a private group chat feature.

Now Sony is obviously the hardware company. Walk into an electronics store and their brand is on almost every type of hardware. When you compare the PS3's failure rates to the Red Ring of Death debacle, there's no contest. Yet compare the PS3's Home launch to the NXE's launch and you see Sony and MS's roles reversed. NXE was delivered in a timely manner with useful features that made sense. Home was delayed for a year and I can't find a reason to use it.

One more thing, Sony firmware team. I hate the PSP's interface. You wanted this thing to be a next generation Walkman yet it fails to play music as well as any MP3 player with a decent UI. I can't dynamically sort my music like I can with other MP3 players or even the freaking PS3. Where's the damn Shuffle All feature? Why can I only access my music in the static folder structure on my memory stick? I really want the PSP to be my one go to device for portable entertainment. Heck, I'd probably buy more games for it if it took on that role. I'm just going to have to buy an MP3 player. Not a Sony one, though. I just couldn't trust the interface.

1 comment:

Taylor said...

I agree. Sony has a long way to come with their firmware.

Several people were suggesting (or maybe it was you), that it would be sweet to have a PSX encoding tool that would build a DRM-PSX game, but it would cost $5.00 to use on your game, to port it to the PSP. That would be totally worth it, IMO -- There are so many games that are still worthwhile and they're really not tapping the market.

Hopefully, Sony will learn from Microsoft. Sony makes some really great games (or publishes, I should say). It would probably be in their interest to hand over the development of the firmware, etc, to people who MAKE software, i.e. Square-Enix, Take-5, or whatever. I think, because they have more understanding of the subject, they'd make a much better interface.

Plus, knock out your firmware costs and outsource somewhere else -- seems like a real good deal, imo.