The PS4's Interface Could Have Been Similar to the PS3, but Sony Opted for the Challenging Route
This week, during a keynote at Develop Conference Sony Computer Entertainment CEO Andrew House explained what determined the choice of the current interface of the PS4, which was pitched against another option much more similar to the PS3’s Cross Media Bar.
House mentioned that he was presented with two not too dissimilar but fairly distinct options, made by two competing teams. Initially, he wasn’t told that detail, but it became increasingly obvious as the presentation went on that each team was actually trying to advocate for its own solution.
One of the approaches was less challenging, a lot more similar to the PS3’s Cross Media Bar and not as innovative, while the other one had a lot of front-facing content.
House was concerned because when you think about the full life cycle of a platform you want to be able to have something that resonates with the core audience which is very comfortable with a lot of content and complexity being placed front and center in front of them, but you also have to think about the wider audience that you hope to reach during the course of the generation. Striking that balance was critical.
Yet, it became clear to him that the more complicated and challenging option was the one to go with, so he decided to go with that one, which then became the current UI of the PS4.
House explained that this kind of decision normally comes after a “listen first” approach. In a Japanese organization there’s on a cultural level a little more time and hesitancy taken in meetings before people really get to the point to actually stating their own view clearly and committing to it. So if he goes into a meeting with any sort of categorical judgement before taking his time to listen to everyone involved, he runs at a huge risk to prevent those positions from actually being expressed.
Yet, on the flip side, when push comes to shove a decision needs to be made, and when it’s made everyone needs to get on board. That’s exactly what happened with the PS4’s interface.