The Playstation Network is one of the features of the PS3 that we don't hear a lot of complaints about. It's intuitive, looks great, has a lot of options for all your entertainment needs, and does what it's supposed to. All that good will was quashed, however, when in the PSN was hacked in April 2011. Now we see nothing but complaints, and understandably so. Despite those complaints, most still agree that the interface is great. But what awaits us around the bend?
With a New Console Comes...?
When the PS4 launch date arrives, and who knows when that will be, will we see an all-new Playstation Network? It seems like there will be two camps when we are talking about this conundrum, just like there is with many speculative issues. There will be those who say the network is perfect as-is and that Sony shouldn't change a thing. The other folks will be a little more progressive and think that something new and innovative should be implemented. Both camps have valid points.
First, let's look at the more conservative view; that Sony shouldn't change a thing. This view has merit because the PSN is darn near perfect already in many's eyes. We have a super intuitive interface with all the bells and whistles for a totally free service, for the most part. There are various forms of chat, lobbies for gaming, browsers, media for watching TV shows and movies, the list goes on and on. Any changes to this great format could result in a breaking of new ground that will inevitably result in a lot of problems as we forge ahead into new territories. Murphy's Law says that anything that can go wrong will go wrong. Don't fix the PSN if it ain't broken!
Then there's the more progressive view of the "new" PSN. Let's face it; for every die-hard Playstation fanboy out there, there's another gamer that has one or more of the other consoles. And a lot of those folks are thinking that there are features on those other networks that could be implemented in some form on the PSN - trademarks not withstanding, of course. One thing that I've seen mentioned on forums around the net as something that people would like see added is something similar to the avatars you see on Xbox Live. That kind of customization and interactivity with animated avatars is something that is currently lacking on the PSN.
What More Can Be Done?
For every generation of technological innovation (including games of course), there are a lot of people that think that it can't get any better. Graphics can't get any better, immersion can't get any better, etc. There were people saying that when every new generation of console came out, and we've come a long way since that first generation. So really the only limit here is our imagination.
With the upsurge of social media in the last few years, it is incumbent upon Sony to keep the ball rolling. We need more inclusion and crossover appeal. On that front, some have mentioned the inclusion of a DVR system on the PS4 to bridge the gap, getting people that have no interest in gaming to buy a PS4. The PS4 should really be a multimedia machine and the Playstation Network needs to continue to reflect that and carry on the tradition, and then some.
Of course, it goes without saying that the other limiter here is current technology. In other words, while it would be great to have a network that really made you feel like you're living in some far-flung science fiction future world when you're using it, we have to think about our current capabilities. The good news, though, is that if you look at the current generation of games you get a really good idea about how close we are to that ideal. We're not far from being able to create digital (holographic?) avatars of ourselves that are fully interactive and nearly indistinguishable from ourselves. One great way to implement this in a way that is slowly seeing a little action on XBL is by taking our avatars into our games. How great would it be to really BE yourself in online games?
As always, the main point here is to get the conversation going. What would you like to see on the Playstation 4 Network? Sony needs to hear from its fans about what they want. Who knows, maybe someone from Sony will read this and take a good idea and run with it!
Article by - Brett Huffman
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