We added a Sony Playstation 4 (PS4) to the house in May, 2014. After a little over a year, here is a long term perspective as a Sony customer and PS4 user.
Our initial experience with the PS4 was quite frustrating:
Playstation 4 – Requires Paid Subscription and offers Poor Support
A poor user experience, namely with respect to Playstation Plus, and few titles made the PS4 a really poor investment at the time.
In December, both Microsoft and Sony were challenged with Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks:
How to Prevent DoS / DDoS Attacks (Sony and Microsoft: Please Pay Attention)
This had two deleterious effects:
- Make Christmas morning COMPLETELY SUCK for all the innocent children (and “adult children”) who got new video games for Christmas, myself included!
- Completely erode trust on the internet. Since the Sony / Microsoft incident, coupled with the deprecation of older, weak protocols, the internet became a semi-trustworthy, half-working patchwork.
(For more information on SSL / TLS state of the art, please read:
Public Key Infrastructure (PKI) and Encryption, Simplified )
2014’s flagship PS4 release, Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare, was completely lackluster, plagued with bugs, the servers were HACKED PRIOR TO RELEASE, and the most popular mode, “Zombie Mode”, was only available as a pay-for-play DLC! Everyone made excuses, everyone had answers, everyone said “it doesn’t suck THAT bad”, but the reality is that anyone who paid for CoD: Advanced Warfare wasted their money. It was a crap release with major problems and shortcomings. The only cool thing about CoD:AW was the Easter Egg of having Kevin Spacey, whose character, “Frank Underwood”, is a Call of Duty fan, play as the CEO of Atlas! (Was that worth $80? NO…. no….. no, it wasn’t….)
PS4 seems to be riddled with release delays. Battlefield Hardline, one of the most anticipated IPs for PS4 was delayed from August-2014, to MARCH, 2015. Additional titles that were delayed:
- No Man’s Sky
- RIDE (PS3 and PS4)
- Batman: Arkham Knight (All platforms)
- Metal Gear V (PS3 and PS4)
- Uncharted 4
2. The PS4 Lifestyle
2.1. PS3 vs PS4
Originally, I thought the Playstation 4 would slowly eclipse the PS3, and use of the PS3 would simply decline in to a closed system, as new releases drop off, and use of the platform online declines.
A year in, Playstation 3 is still going strong, with almost every major PS4 release mirrored on the PS3. There are very few PS4-exclusive titles… less than 20 at this time.
That means that the only value-add over PS3 at this time is better graphics, and in some games, more content.
On PS3, gameplay was largely a multiplayer experience, where multiplayer was a function of single-player. Games such as Battlefield and Call of Duty supported full-screen, immersive single-player experiences, but your buddy could pick up a controller and join you.
PS4 is basically a single-player only experience. Other than Mortal Kombat, I have yet to see a game that supports multiplayer, single console. The expectation is that you and your buddies all have a PS4, you’ve all legally-purchased the same game, and you play online, rather than side-by-side. The “PS4 effect” is so bad, you basically SHOULD NOT BUY a 2nd controller, unless you just want to have one handy while you’re charging your primary.
The other issue with PS4 multiplayer is that it’s basically impossible to play unless you pay $50/yr for Playstation Plus (See my previous rant).
Finally, no one seems to own a PS4. Playing online with your friends is a lonely experience! They are all still playing PS3, or they’ve moved BACK to PC gaming.
Summary: There’s more action in PS3-land. If you happen to find life on planet PS4, it probably won’t be intelligent, or it will be leaving soon.
2.2. Playstation Plus
Having been coerced in to a Playstation Plus membership, what does this do for me?
From Sony, here is what I was promised:
- Access to Alpha and Beta releases (Ummmm NONE or VERY FEW, because there are NO PS4 TITLES!)
- Exclusive content (Still looking for it? CoD:AW Zombies? NOPE! I bought the Atlas edition, and…. NO ZOMBIES)
- Shows and Movies (Expectation: Neflix streaming. Reality: Um… where do I go for this?)
- Access to Free games (Expectation: FREE GAMES FOR THE PS4! Reality: Most or all of them suck, and only a couple are for the PS4. The rest are for PS3 or Vita)
- Discounts (Expectation: Steam Sale Reality: “Prearranged” discounts on software that you wouldn’t purchase unless you ALREADY HAD had PS+ )
Net benefit: I get to play games, that I already own, online with my friends, because they can’t play with me in my own living room?
OK, so Playstation Plus is a complete waste.
2.3. Other PS4 “Features”
- Video game streaming: Requires a Vita. You have to be REALLY committed to Sony to make that much of an investment.
- Watch Bluray disks: I have an LG 3D Bluray player and a 55″ 3D TV. I HAVE watched Blurays, and even 3D Blurays on the PS3, but since they are sitting side-by-side, why would I really use the PS4 for watching movies?
- Watch Netflix: PS4 is connected to a Smart TV. Less PITA factor (See Sony Menus below)
So… I don’t use it, except to play games. There is no added value for me.
I suspect it’s the same story for most people, the exception being a dorm room / solo apartment scenario, but shouldn’t ALL THAT be a buy-up addon, rather than charging the 80% of us who DON’T USE NOR NEED the “extra” features? Most of this is just software…. how about a “PS4-lite” edition, where you save $200, but you just play games?
3. Problems and Support
Basically couldn’t log in to Playstation Network (PS3, nor PS4, nor PC) for an entire month, while they sorted out their DDoS problems.
During this time, my profile got locked out, but there was no way to contact Sony!
Chat online: Requires you to log in… no way to log in, because CloudFlare was misconfigured!
FINALLY chat online: Sony rep ended the chat without resolving my issue (basically hung up on me)
Recently, all of my contacts disappeared. Contact Sony by phone? They hung up on me.
A company that won’t talk to you doesn’t care about you.
Sony’s Playstation Support SUCKS! It’s WORSE THAN COMCAST!
You would expect that being a Playstation Plus member affords you some extra level of support. IT DOES NOT!
SONY: YOUR CUSTOMER SUPPORT SUCKS! Hanging up on someone works when your target demographic are unemployed millennials living off Mom’s credit card, but for the REST OF US, that you claim is the “Maturing game market”, we expect RESPECT for the dollars we spent with you. If this is how I’m treated as a Playstation customer, I’ll go elsewhere! Stuff your Playstation 5.
Steambox!!! Here, I come!
3.1. Sony Hires Tax Form Designers, to Design its Menus
The one thing I’ve always found annoying about every Sony product is the lack of context and needless complexity within the menus.
It’s like Sony hires Ex IRS Tax Form Designers to Design its menus!
When they are looking for a new cryptography standard, the US Government should hire Sony menu designers to write it. It will be so needlessly confusing that it will never be broken.
The hallmark of all Sony products: 50,000 menu options, nested 10 levels deep.
Google is your friend.
I thought the PS3 was a little cumbersome, but, like the mythical hydra, PS4 seems to have sprouted two menu options for every PS3 menu option.
Navigation is confusing, and there is little context to guide you. Some menus are 10 levels deep, and only have 1 or 2 items.
Sony Menu Designers could teach a PhD class on how to design a crappy user interface
I could keep going, and I probably should.
Sony: PLEASE LEARN HOW TO DESIGN MENUS.
- There are still very few PS4-exclusive titles
- Most PS4 games offer little value over PS3
- Expensive games that are already hacked day-1 (CoD: I’m looking at YOU)
- Many delayed releases
- Side-by-side multiplayer is almost non-existent
- Online multiplayer requires Playstation Plus (AND another PS4, AND another copy of the game, AND another PS+ subscription)
- There are no lifestyle benefits to PS4 over PS3, nor PS+
- No one plays PS4 – most are still playing PS3
- Lots of problems
- Crappy support from Sony
- (Added benefit) Highly-confusing menus, and crappy user interface
Long term conclusion: Stick with PS3, and buy a Steambox this fall.
<drops the mic>