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Why I’m not on the PS4 train… yet.

ps4-250x250On Friday at midnight, Sony launched it’s PS4 gaming console to droves of people waiting in lines all over the US. I was not one of them and as news pours in from new owners, I’m happy I didn’t pitch a tent at my local Game Stop.

I’ve been a fan of the PlayStation since it’s inception. I’m not a hardcore gamer like many of my friends but I enjoy an occasional game and I really love the PS3’s ability to be a media center.

Initial Release Jitters

There are throngs of people who follow the line of thinking which states: “Never buy the first year model of a new car line”. The idea around this is that “new things” including cars (and gaming consoles) are rushed to market without a thorough quality assurance test. While this may or may not be true in some, or all instances, the theory does hold some water. The news has already reported several issues regarding the PS4 and there are others to be found in comments on Amazon, etc.

Blue Light of Death

To be fair, it seems so far that the  “Blue Light of Death” is affecting only a handful of people. However, in the age of instant everything, a handful can start the ball rolling with unprecedented speed. Within a few days of release, Sony released a troubleshooting guide which includes the old stand by of “reboot it”. No word on whether the issue is user-serviceable or something that will have to be fixed by Sony.

Taking the media out of the media center

These days, everything from TV’s to phones have the ability to stream content, be it music or video. My Television, AppleTV, Phone, iPad, and my PS3 can all stream video and music from various places to my TV.

Why then did Sony take out the support for MP3 and DLNA (Streaming Video) on the PS4? Sony says it was “shocked by the passionate response” from people who learned that DLNA and MP3 was no longer supported. For the non-geeks out there let me quickly explain. DLNA is a protocol that allows you to stream video from a server on your local network. For example, I have a server which has hundreds of movies I’ve ripped from my personal Blu-Ray and DVD collection. If I want to watch something, I simply power up my PS3, look through the categories I set up and choose a movie. Simple as that. The movie streams from my little server and life is good. This was not included in the PS4, it is the biggest reason why I opted out of the pre-order and I’m not alone according to the masses. Sony says it will include it at some point and was surprised at the number of people who canceled pre-orders so I expect they will be adding it soon.

No more free online play

The one thing the PS3 always had over the XBox was that there was no charge for online play. For me this is big because I don’t game enough to justify paying a monthly fee for the “privilege” of using my own internet connection but the games I do play are all online with other live people all over the world. I’m also technical enough to know that Sony uses none, or very little of it’s infrastructure to host online gaming. When you boot up your Battlefield 4 or any other number of online games, you are connected to a central server. In the case of BF4, a server owned by EA Games. Where is Sony’s chip in this? No where except the development code that allows you a point-to-point connection to EA’s server. It’s pure profit. Long before consoles went online, we were playing first person shooters with our friends across the city without a monthly charge. Going back to the BF4 example, the PC based version still plays online without a charge.

Other things that might matter to you

There are a few other things that might sway decisions on whether to purchase a PS4.

  • No backward compatibility. This makes sense to me as a developer and would drive the price up but might influence a decision if you had hoped to play your PS3 games on the PS4
  • In order to stand vertical, you’ll need to buy a stand (available in December). This might not be a big deal to you but to an OCD guy like me, it matters. :)
  • It doesn’t support 4K. If you don’t know what this means, it probably doesn’t matter to you.
  • No wireless stereo headset support.

The Good, the Bad, The Ugly – A sum of all things

The good: The PS4 is a great offering for the gamer willing to pay for online play. The new Dualshock4 controllers are supposed to be superb and are getting amazing reviews. The PS4 is more “PC Like” as opposed to the PS3’s cell processor technology which was a PITA for game developers. Sony is embracing the Indie game designers and allowing their titles to be played without too much drama. It’s powerful. It’s pretty.

The bad: The online pay-to-play reminds us that the PS4 comes from a super-corporation who’s goal is to make money. The lack of DLNA and MP3 support along with the “shocked” response from Sony tells me that little R&D into the community was done.

The Ugly: So far the only “ugly” is the the Blue Light of Death. If I’d waited hours in line, I’d be upset too. The potential negative press from issues like this could drive down sales but in reality probably will have little effect as long as more issues don’t crop up.