Gamed: The PS4 won’t play Blu-rays or DVDs out of the box, will require update

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Xbox One vs PS4 Blu_ray and DVD PS4

If you are the owner of a PlayStation 3, then you are familiar with the screen below:

PS3 firmware

It has likely stolen away countless minutes of your life, demanding that you delay your entertainment in order to receive a new update that could do anything from adding a new feature to fixing an error you may not even be aware of. Regardless of the reason for the firmware update, it is one of the PS3’s little quirks that owners have just come to accept. Grudgingly.

When the PlayStation 4 is released on November 15, the update process that was such a major part of the PS3 will make its triumphant debut on the new system as well. But rather than fixing a glitch, the first big one will add a few new features. Actually more than a few. Basically, if you don’t download the update, several of the PS4’s primary functions simply won’t work.

The “software update 1.50” is a sizable 300 MB and contains the following features (courtesy of Sony):

Remote Play

graduation gifts Sony PS VitaUsers will be able to access PS4 titles displayed on their living room TVs and play them on a PS Vita system over Wi-Fi networks by using PS4 Link (Depending on network environment or titles, remote play performance may vary outside of the home). We anticipate that most PS4 titles will be playable on the PS Vita system through Remote Play. The latest PS Vita system software version, to be released soon, will be required to use PS4 Link.

Second Screen

Users can use the PS4 Link application for the PS Vita system, and PlayStation App for iPhone, iPad, and Android-based smartphones and tablets, to use these devices as second screens in supported titles. PlayStation App has the ability to enable users to interact with games with their mobiles devices. For example on The Playroom, a title pre-installed in all PS4 systems that requires PlayStation Camera, users can draw pictures on their mobile device screens and flick them towards the TV. The images then appear as a 3D object within the game.

Record, take screenshots, and upload gameplay effortlessly

The PS4 system provides dedicated, “always on” video encoding systems that enables seamless uploading of gameplay. Users can share their epic triumphs by simply hitting the Share button on DualShock 4, take screenshots or scan through the last 15 minutes of gameplay, tag it and return to the game—the video uploads as the user plays. At the PS4 system’s launch in North America, users will be able to share their images and videos with friends on Facebook and screenshots with followers on Twitter, though users will need to sign up for individual accounts to use Facebook and Twitter.

Broadcast and spectate gameplay

PS4 Share buttonThe PS4 system also enhances social spectating by enabling users to broadcast their gameplay in real-time to game fans around the globe, using Ustream and Twitch live internet streaming services (users will need to sign up for individual accounts to use Ustream and Twitch). There are two ways for users to view live broadcasts. First, the Live from PlayStation application on PS4 aggregates streams from all PlayStation users. Second, users can spectate friends’ PS4 gameplay from PCs, and applications such as Ustream, Twitch, and browsers, which are installed on their mobile devices. These applications can be easily started up via PlayStation App, and users can also use these applications to post comments to gameplay broadcasts. Furthermore, users with PlayStation Camera can stream camera images and microphone sounds along with their live gameplay broadcast.

Play as you download

This feature enables users to play supported digital titles as they are being downloaded. The time it takes to begin playing will vary depending on game data size and network environments, and not all titles will support this feature When a game is purchased, users can start playing after PS4 downloads a portion of the data, while the rest of the game is downloaded in the background during actual gameplay. Games may be downloaded in stand-by mode.

Multi log-in

A maximum of four users can log-in to a single PS4 system simultaneously. These players can use their own save data to play games, and also earn trophies on their own Sony Entertainment Network accounts even when playing a multiplayer game together on a single PS4 system.

Party (Voice chat)

By using the Mono Headset bundled with the PS4 system, users will be able to chat with up to eight friends enjoying different applications or games. Furthermore, users can use Party to chat between PS4 and PS Vita systems.

Face recognition and voice commands

PS4-controller-and-camera-2Users with PlayStation Camera will be able to register their facial image onto their PS4 system, and login to their system using facial recognition instead of DualShock 4. Furthermore, users can use either the microphone of the Mono Head set connected to DualShock 4, or PlayStation Camera to navigate through the PS4 home screen (PlayStation Dynamic Menu) with voice commands to start up games and shutdown the system, among other features; please refer to PS4’s online manual for recognizable voice commands.

Background music player

Users can enjoy gameplay while listening to music in the background with Music Unlimited, a cloud-based digital music service. Users can also voice chat with friends while listening to music. Learn more about Music Unlimited here.

Online Multiplayer

PlayStation Plus members will be able to play PS4 titles online with other players via the network. PS Plus makes it easy for members to join available online multiplayer matches in a variety of ways, including the ability to easily join a game from a live stream broadcast or Party voice chats.

Blu-ray Disc and DVD player

Users can enjoy not only gaming on their PS4 system, but also Blu-ray and DVD video contents. When using for the first time, users must connect to the internet to activate this feature. 

That’s more than just a few features. Without that download, the PS4 will be almost useless. It will play games, sort of, as long as the game doesn’t feature an online multiplayer component. And even if you could connect online, you wouldn’t be able to speak to anyone. 

PS4 cat 2None of this should dissuade you if you support the PS4, but it is something you will need to prepare for.

Ongoing rollouts of new products are nothing new, but since this will be available on launch day it does raise a number of questions. The most likely reason for an update of this size coming on launch day rather than just being pre-installed, is that Sony was willing to cut a few corners to get the PS4 out before the Xbox One. And hey, business is war, who can blame the company for wanting an edge in timing? But if the system was pushed into production so early that major features – features that Sony has been touting for months now – weren’t included in the initial build, what else may have been rushed?

Nintendo faced a similar problem for different reasons. While it also had to delay a handful of features, including its touted TVii and streaming services like Netflix and Hulu, its day one patch was to fix bigger stability issues. Early adopters could find themselves waiting anywhere from 30 minutes to 7 hours (mine took around 5 hours).

It also raises the alarming question of what happens when potentially millions of people all try to download a 300 MB file from the same source in roughly the exact same time frame? Even if everything goes perfectly, it will still cause a bottleneck. And things rarely go perfectly. The Wii U required a patch that was nearly 1GB, far bigger than the planned PS4 patch, but the traffic could end up being much heavier. The Wii U has sold just over 3 million units total, while the PS4 could outsell Nintendo’s console in just six week. Whatever the final 2013 numbers are, the PS4 will almost certainly outsell the Wii U on launch day, creating potential headaches for users trying to download the update. To add to the worry, Sony has already shown itself susceptible to online issues when PSN went offline for nearly a month. To be fair, that was caused by outside forces, but Sony’s response was less than ideal.

Relying on new hardware on day one is always a gamble. Red Rings of Death, grips of death, and even fuzzy images of distant galaxies taken by broken orbital telescopes are proof of that. Things go wrong. Knowing in advance that a sizable chunk of the software won’t be available until launch is a bit troubling though, and God help you if you don’t have an Internet connection.

Eventually the PS4 will be fine and stable. The system looks amazing, and none of these issues should prevent you, or sour you from being a day one purchaser. Sony has a big team supporting it, and lots of people are working to ensure this launch is a success. Microsoft’s Xbox One is likely to have a few issues as well – the aforementioned red ring is proof that it’s possible. But PS4 day one users may also want to stop and grab a book when picking up their new system, just so they have something to do while the update downloads. 

Hot Coffee and News

Rockstar delays its stimulus package

GTA OIn order to bribe/apologize to fans for a rocky launch to GTA Online, Rockstar announced that everyone would be receiving money. Based on how much the game has made, sending a crisp $20 bill to everyone that bought GTAV is a viable option that would hardly be noticed, but instead the offer was for $500,000 in online money to be paid out in October. Sadly, due to ongoing issues, Rockstar is holding back that cash until the game is fixed. Maybe introduce high interest credit cards in the game and we can buy stuff on credit until we get paid. What could possibly go wrong?

Wii discontinued in Europe and Japan

nintendo wii miniFollowing the news that Wii production in Japan has closed down, Nintendo in Europe is now following suit and ending its Wii production. Wii production in America continues though, for some reason.

Xbox Live revenue up 25-percent

xbox-live-moneyWith Xbox 360 hardware sales reaching their inevitable decline, Microsoft is happy to report that Xbox Live sales are doing well. Very well. Microsoft recently released its Q1 sales results, and they were the best the company has ever seen, with a 16-percent increase over Q1 2012. Even though 360 sales are plummeting, the Surface did well enough to make up the difference in the hardware division, and the group was up 37-percent. The Devices and Consumer Other, which includes first party games and XBL sales, was up 17-percent in general, and XBL alone jumped 25-percent. That’ll do, gaming industry. That’ll do.

Showing 54 comments

  1. ChaosReigns 5 months Ago  
    ...also, PS4 will not support any USB connected external drives.
    Let's hope nobody actually wants to watch movies or listen to MP3's.
    For that matter, PS4 also will not play any audio CD's.
    Looks like my days as a loyal playstation fanatic are about over.
  2. randy.colvin.756 5 months Ago  
    May, just maybe, we'll get a controller that'll charge when the PS4 is OFF. /wishfulthinking
  3. BrandonN.Bates 6 months Ago  
    Its just like buying a new game they have a title update on launch date.
  4. Barron VonEccie 6 months Ago  
    Every new system the last 7 years required an update at launch... but not this BIG and not as many feature fixes. This is why they test is out on America before it goes to Japan. I imagine the consumers in Japan are not as friendly when it comes to their systems not working from second 0 nor are they ok with being guinea pigs.
  5. Sam Regan 6 months Ago  
    Yes we know, where have you been?
  6. Bonzo McDonald 6 months Ago  
    300mb will take me about 30 seconds lol this is not a problem in the slightest
  7. Luis Morales 6 months Ago  
    its been confirmed that you will be able to play as you download the update.
  8. GGCAN1 6 months Ago  
    Just read this morning (Mon., Oct 28/13) that the patch will be available when the launch hits in Japan..they're getting the PS4 next year, so it will eventually be coming with the machine.

    We're at early launch and it sounds to me like they didn't have enough time to implement that patch because of the earlier date.

    I would still much rather have to install the patch than wait until 2014.

    For me, it's not a big deal like it seems to be for so many others.
  9. Fa Menalo 6 months Ago  
    Gee everyone will try and download the first day. Wonder what the result will be? lulz
  10. GGCAN1 6 months Ago  
    Anyways enough of the back and forth with Ian Bell.

    I don't mind any of this and like I mentioned, see it happen with lots of hardware and software at several companies I've worked at, including IBM.

    It doesn't take much time and if there is a problem the vendor will work very hard to fix that problem.

    Maybe not immediately, but once they have a fix, it will be there.

    People are working very hard in the background that you don't see, getting all this in place.

    Looking forward to Nov 15/13 and this huge update that seems some are so concerned about.
  11. GGCAN1 6 months Ago  
    I have a launch day PS3 and I'll tell you, that machine is not the same today as it was at launch day.

    Some features are gone (Linux (but I see why Sony removed that feature) and many others have been added making it a great machine.

    If we didn't have these updates, the PS3 wouldn't have the 3d capability it does today.

    The upgrades don't bother me, I have a fast connection and all has previously gone well for me with other updates.
    1. As long as they don't start taking away features... We won't have a problem. I hate that slight of hand crap.
  12. GGCAN1 6 months Ago  
    Be happy that you can upgrade the firmware.

    Like I mentioned in another post, the PS3 wouldn't be what it is today without those updates.

    I have a launch day PS3 and it certainly isn't the same machine it was on day one.
  13. GGCAN1 6 months Ago  
    People, you get a brand new pc, right away there are windows updates to install.

    This really isn't much different.

    All of the consoles have an update this gen...why such a big deal ?
    1. But the PC still turns on and you can still use it right? It's not broken on day one without an immediate update.

      1. Yes, an the PS4 will turn on and you can use it as well (most likely the xbox one as well).

        But if you want the stability and the enhancements, then you update.

        Listen, I have been a tech in IT for over 30 years, I don't see a problem with this.

        You mention you don't either, but you sure push the idea as if you mind a lot.

        The machines were made previously to get enough out at launch day.

        Some most likely a bit of a while back and may not be as up to date as the newer made models, so I could see that this may be (I'm not certain) a reason for an update.

        As well, they are working still getting software in place (I know at my workplace...people test until just before the launch of the software) and some features aren't fined tuned until just before launch day.
  14. ejmfoley 6 months Ago  
    It's not the patch or the download; that's part of the program. I'm with a couple others here, though, re the Blu-ray player. Sony invented the format. How can the Blu-ray player not work out of the box without a patch?
    1. There are bluray upgrades for sound, video, etc...that must happen as well.

      Just be happy that the machine is upgradeable.

      So many bluray players are obsolete now, because they have no update capabilities.

      Remember the 3d option, it wasn't available out of the box on the PS3.
      1. There aren't that many updates for a Blu-ray player. Sound, video etc will get update MAYBE once a year.

        1. So you want the console not to have update ability ?

          The PS3 wouldn't be what it is today without them.

          I bought a launch day PS3 and let me tell you, it isn't the same console today that it was out of the box.
          1. "So you want the console not to have update ability ?"

            Huh, where did I say that? Just let me watch movies from day one. Give me an update later on when there aren't going to be millions of people trying to update at the same time.

            1. I understand your frustrations, but like I said....every other updates that I've installed has taken less than 15 minutes.

              Millions of others at that time were also installing.

              It didn't cause me any problems and that's the point I'm trying to get across.

              I didn't say you don't want the update ability.
              1. Putting the bottleneck aside (I do think there will be a significant one, but I think it will be an annoyance more than a real problem), that is a huge features list to not have ready to go. I'm generally fine with updates, but when developers, manufacturers, and whoever else begin to rely on them, perhaps it's time to re-examine how companies handle launch days.

                1. Ryan, just read this am (Monday, Oct 28/13) that when the console comes to Japan in 2014, these updates will be installed...

                  I'd much rather not have to wait for the console to already have the update and install myself.

                  Already a few games have been held over until 2014 due to not being ready, just glad they didn't do this to the console itself.

                  As well, read on the PS Blog today that a remake to Trine 2 is coming to the PS4 and will have 3D support.

                  Not sure, but maybe this update is to make the bluray player 3d compatible like the PS3 did previously.

                  Anyways, doesn't bother me to do a 15 - 20 min. update like it seems to bother others.
                2. I really really can't see them hitting a bottleneck. Think about it, PSN gets millions of people updating say COD right at launch at almost the exact same time. Those files can be smaller but they usually download without any problems. The same for the DLC you get millions of people downloading a say 1GB COD map almost the instant its available. I can't see more than 5 million PS4's being sold day one and I doubt that even half of them attempt to update at the same time.
        2. Maybe not many, but how would you like to have purchased a blu ray player and can't play the most recent movie, because it's not compatible with the newest format ?

          Rather have this feature than a blu ray player that is now obsolete.
          1. Your argument doesn't make sense because the PS4 is not available yet. Sony had plenty of time to make the Blu-ray player work before shipping IMO.

            1. Doesn't make much sense ey ?

              I wonder how many people with blu ray players that can't play the latest blu rays are on your side.

              I know several that can only play old blu rays because the newest format isn't compatible with their player.
              1. You are starting to become my online buddy! :)

                I understand what you are saying. Just make the player work when I open the box. Is that too much to ask?

                1. I have to agree with Bell. Even if the features are minor ones the fact remains that they are pushing out an unfinished product in order to compete release dates. Which in one sense is a good business move but in the other a terrible long term one that will only increase your consumer's outrage. It's no surprise that most of the features needing updates are the ones they sprung into action to rival the xbox's unique features. But I will say neither system is currently worthy of buying until they get their act together. It's too bad that there are some really head turning games coming out.
                  1. So a final word to some companies out there. Stop screwing the customer and finish your products properly.
  15. engineoregon 6 months Ago  
    OH. MY. GOD. Sony is doing something that every single console from this generation will be doing? That's it. I'm done with gaming forever. I can't believe this completely mundane, routine firmware update that every reasonable person expected from the get-go will exist. What a total surprise!
    1. ^Freaking Idiot
      1. ^Incapable or unwilling to argue in defense of their position, hence resorting to name calling
    2. haha funny guy. So if everyone is doing it wrong, then it's OK for another to do it wrong too? I don't mind the update, what I do mind is that a basic function like playing a movie is not going to work without it.

      1. so as you unbox your ps4, the only thing on your mind is playing a stupid movie? really?
        1. lol no. But it should work damnit!

      2. Is this a new generation of Blu Ray or something that the company is not familiar with producing or something hence the unfinished product?? Or has the whole console been in develop for a shorter time then what they lead people to thing in response to the other emerging consoles?? Something there doesn't seem to add up to well. At least we are already aware of the push in production from Foxconn in producing the parts for ps4. That is what one source said but it seems Foxconn just pushes it's workers too far on a regular basis.
        1. lol didn't mean the too "or somethings" in there I just lost track of the sentence because I'm at work.
  16. Ian Bell 6 months Ago  

    Why are some of these manufacturers putting products into the marketplace unfinished and which require an instant "update" for even some of the most basic functions...hate it. Didn't Nintendo do this a while back?

    1. Nintendo did this awhile back but it took from a mere 30 minutes to 7 hours (Ouch) lol.
      1. Ouch, that is what I am worried about. I was getting crap from people on the DT Facebook page for worrying about a 300mb download. And you just confirmed it! I hope Sony does a better job than Nintendo did.

        1. I'm sure Sony will have multiple regional servers to handle the load. I'm not that concerned about it. Think of it like this. How many hundreds of thousands of PS3's download firmware updates at the same time? Sure, they may only be a few mb, but if you add that up, it's a huge amount of data and load on a system. Now, consider how many ps4's will be out at launch... I would imagine, not as many as there are ps3s. lol

          So the load would be similar, or less. Not at all worried.
  17. Byron Frank 6 months Ago  
    Although its important for people to know that the PS4 comes with a 300MB patch day one, its not really uncommon as EVERY console this generation has had a patch. Xbox One won't work at all without a day one patch. Also 300MB is a really small file comparatively. At my connection speed that's under 5 minutes time and a great many people have even faster connections than I do. It should also be considered that they will have more than one server handling these downloads as each region has its own server if not sub regions.
    1. I would expect a product to be able to play movies from day one though. That just sounds silly to me.

      1. Yeah I agree with you on this. At least the movie playback capability part sounds like too much, I mean really? The machine comes with a Bluray player that doesn't work from the get go? Imagine if you purchased a stand alone Bluray player and when you plugged it in it didn't played any movies? What would you think of that?

        It does sound like a very unfinished and incomplete product as if they pushed a beta version of it unto you instead of the final release. I know, I know it is the competitiveness of this particular market that makes these companies pull desperate moves to outdo one another but this does sound very silly indeed.

        Now I still like the machine and I think it is better a deal than the XBox One but I don't like this issue because it sounds like: "Gee I bought a car but it still doesn't have an engine, they delivered it with a lorry in front of my house because I couldn't drive it home but don't worry the car manufacturer will send the engine soon through UPS and a technician will come soon after that to install it!". Imagine that, YIKES!!
        1. Agreed. I did actually order both and look forward to the PS4 more. I realize that maybe I am being petty and a 300MB download isn't that big of a deal...just seems lazy on Sony's part to me.

          1. I guess all vendors are lazy then....I see the same happening with cell phones, computers, etc.
            1. If that's what you want your conclusion to be. I am not opposed to updates, but one shouldn't be required to a use a product on launch day. Updates should be for fixing problems AFTER they are found.

              Otherwise, Sony released an unfinished product IMO.

          2. It's more so a cultural issue. Not Japanese, but humanities culture. We all rush to get things. Rush to push a release date. Rush to get the first scope of news on the 24 hour news cycle. corners are cut, edges are rough, facts are wrong, products aren't finished, firmware isn't installed! I would imagine that Sony knew they needed more time, but in order to poke the eye of MS, they needed to stick to their date. Deal with the firmware update later.
            1. I imagine that the player is either lacking a driver or more likely a decryption codex. I believe that it can still play games without the patch which would mean it is most likely the codex. If a new codex was releasing close to the production date they may have decided to wait on it. I feel that it isn't a huge deal and both Xbox One and Wii-U required patches day one too so I can't complain about it.
              1. It's the new norm.
      2. Gees, you're so demanding! Expecting something to work out of the box, when you buy it is so 1990's of you. Everyone knows that these days the company, not the fact that you bought it, are the ones who tell you that you can use their products! Get real Ian!
      3. You can't do ANY of that from day one if you DON'T EVEN HAVE THE SYSTEM!!! That's the alternative to them starting production a little early. If it's such a huge problem then just wait til March or whenever you get a "finished product".