If you are the owner of a PlayStation 3, then you are familiar with the screen below:
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):
Users 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.
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
The 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.
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
Users 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.
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.
None 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
In 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
Following 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
With 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.