Sony shocked the gaming world last week when it published a trailer teasing what is “next from PlayStation.” I too was wrapped in the excitement considering that we’re five months away from E3 and already talking next gen. But with that excitement there are certainly a few reservations, and it comes in the form of some glaring omissions (see: features) that never made to the PlayStation 3. Let’s run down the list of some must have features Sony needs to unveil alongside the upcoming debut of PlayStation 4.
Cross Game Chat
Although Sony’s PlayStation Plus is showing Microsoft, Nintendo, and (arguably) even Steam how an online service should be done, the lack of the very basic ability to communicate across games, while in game, is a total bummer. If you’re a Sony fan, and have never owned the “other” HD console or played a game on the PC in the last few years, then you’re not included in this — since, well.. you don’t really know what you’re missing. But for the rest of us who have seen how the other side lives, it’s the kind of feature that once you have it, gaming online without it is really annoying.
Sony faulted the lack of available system memory as a reason to why we never received Cross Game Chat through an update on PS3, but they met us half way with in-game Xrossmedia Bar functionality. Unfortunately, that won’t be enough this time around and this is a feature that cannot be ignored.
Right alongside cross game chat, the lack of intuitive universal invites across games is something that hunkers down the PlayStation Network experience and needs to be addressed with the PlayStation 4. Not only does it make things easier for gamers who are eager to jump into games with their friends online, it makes things easier for developers who don’t have to build out their own infrastructure to manage invites, something that even the most popular online games (I’m looking at you Call of Duty) simply can’t get right on the Ps3.
The entire invite system is the opposite of intuitive and hopefully soon it will become a distant memory of the online gaming experience on PlayStation.
PS Vita Integration
During 2011’s Tokyo Game Show, Sony Worldwide Studios President Shuhei Yoshida showed off Killzone 3 playing on a PS Vita through the magic known as remote play. But he also noted that “titles played via Remote Play need a bit of customization for memory and CPU use” which could mean that the resources simply weren’t there and explains why we haven’t really seen as much of the feature — as much as we thought we would — with the PS3. What better way to stimulate the sales of their latest handheld than to show how it can help to create a multi-screen, all around the home experience?
Sure, the PS Vita library is slowly but surely growing, but having an additional reason to get one, such as asymmetrical gameplay and true remote play, certainly could help bolster growth and the handheld’s install base. Something which as you know means more developers, and that translates into even more games. It’s a win-win for Sony.
Industry insiders and consumers alike should be paying very close attention to this last one. In early July last year, Sony opened up their war chest and acquired Gaikai, an online game streaming service for a cool $380 million dollars. Since then, we haven’t heard much of anything that has come from that purchase. Even as the PS Vita has been searching for momentum from anywhere it can get it, it too has not seen anything from the Gaikai acquisition. Sony needs to unveil how the service will tie the service into its PlayStaion business, not only for anxious gamers but for share holders and investors who are likely also wondering when that purchase will begin to bare fruit for the company’s bottom line.
As a side note, what I would hope to see from the Gaikai purchase is instant online purchases, where a game you buy from the PlayStation Store is immediately available through a client, while the rest of it downloads in the background (similar to what Blizzard offers PC gamers). Once the download is finished, you’re taken off the client and transition over to your hard drive. But that’s just my own wishful thinking; I just hope someone at Sony is listening.
14 Days and Counting
Well, there you have it folks. These are four features that Sony needs to unveil along side the PS4 (if they want to avoid a riot, just kidding… maybe). PlayStation Meeting 2013 is exactly two weeks away and we’ll be on hand to give you the play by play. And you can bet your rear end that if these four features are covered during the press conference we will all be singing the PS4’s praises when it’s all said and done.
Hey Sony, the world will be watching. It’s time to bring it.