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Daily Reaction: Updates and Fixes Sony Should Include in the Next PS4 Firmware Update

December 20, 2013 Written by Sebastian Moss

PlayStation5

We all know that the PlayStation 4 is an incredible device, but just like the launch PS3, the console is set to get better with every firmware update. With that in mind, Daily Reaction’s Seb and Dan brainstorm the small fixes they’d recommend for FW 2.0.

Hardware

Seb: Let’s start off with the DualShock 4, as it’s what we’re holding and interacting with when we play PS4. The problem is, its battery sucks, but there’s sadly little they can do about that. What they can do, however, is make it a lot easier to switch the controller off, so that less battery is wasted.

This is what you currently have to do to switch off a DS4:

  1. Hold the PS button
  2. Click adjust devices
  3. Scroll down
  4. Choose ‘turn off device’, at which point you are asked “which device do you want to turn off?” (pointless)
  5. Now hit X on the DualShock 4. There, finally switched off.

Or they could just have it selectable straight away after hitting the PS button…

Dan: My issue is pretty simple and one that has been addressed by multiple people in the past, but is something that is an odd oversight by Sony. The lightbar on top of the DualShock 4 controller is an interesting concept, but one that only works in certain environments, so not having the ability to turn it off is odd. Given that some developers will be able to use it for certain functions and that players will be able to use it to see which controller is there’s is nice, but unless a game needs it the whole time, there is no time to leave it on – besides it would help with that battery issue Seb mentioned.

PSN & Apps

Dan: During the PS3 era, Sony became a running joke because of the number of senseless updates and the poor quality of the PSN service. Now that the PS4 is here, hopes were that Sony would have figured out how to finally prepare a service that would run better and would need less downtime, but sadly this isn’t the case. Given that now gamers are having to pay to fully use the the PSN service with PS Plus, there is an expectation of quality. Xbox Live has always been the infrastructure to match, but it seems Sony just cannot get it right.

The other big issue hitting PS4 gamers at the moment is the amount of time the PSN crashes, which is more for some games than others, but is still an issue that should not be a problem at this level for a subscription based program. Sony may be trying to offset these problems by releasing multiple updates and the background downloading feature does bear most of the weight, but the whole thing feels more like patchwork than progress.

Seb: Exactly, Dan has hit the nail on the head – we’re paying for this now, so it needs to work. Of course, even Sony didn’t expect the PS4 to sell this well, so there’s more people hitting their servers than ever before, but they still knew the maximum amount of PS4s that could sell, and didn’t prepare.

As Dan covered the broad network as a whole, I focus on one of the PS4’s most popular apps – Music Unlimited. It’s an awesome feature that allows you to stream a wide variety of music, even when playing games. However, it’s incredibly flawed. First off, it crashes. A lot. Like all the time.

Then there’s the loading – a music streaming service that takes 2 seconds to load on an iPhone takes longer to load on PS4 than Killzone Shadow Fall – even if the program is running in the background playing music. Once opened, navigating is equally slow. That means that switching tracks in a multiplayer match is suicide.

To speed up searching on Music Unlimited, it would also be a smart idea to add all the songs and artists to the dictionary that appears as you type. They just have a normal dictionary, which shows a complete lack of understanding of basic search engines.

Next up is the songs – a bunch of them are incorrectly labeled, which is all the more embarrassing as Sony owns Gracenote, the largest database of music metadata, which is used by companies like Apple to identify music through software.

Finally, and this is admittedly a larger ask, but the whole point of Music Unlimited playing while you game is that it should seamlessly overlay (otherwise you could just listen on your iPod), and that’s not what we’re getting. Game music plays at the same time (particularly irritating with FIFA’s loud pop music), and often obliterates cutscenes or conversations. Moving forward, developers should be given the tools to allow player to tweak the volume, a la PC games.

Misc

Seb: Ok, so here’s all the other little ideas we couldn’t categorize. One idea I had, which wouldn’t even require a firmware update, is an addition to the Cross Buy program. Cross Buy is where a multi-PlayStation-platform game only needs to be bought once to be playable on all the PlayStation platforms.

It’s a great scheme, but the problem is that a lot of the upcoming PS4/Vita ports are of older PS3 games where new developers have been brought in to update it and sometimes even add things. That requires money, so it’s understandable that devs are charging us to rebuy the games we own. But it’s still something no one wants to do. Solution? Partial Cross Buy – if you own the older version, you can buy the port at a discounted price. That way you’re not fully rebuying your own stuff, but you are supporting the developer. Simple.

Moving on, let’s talk UI. At first I liked it, but now I already seem to have too many games and apps to make the process intuitive. There needs to be more options when it comes to sorting games – for example, all your TV apps get put in a folder, so why can’t we make our own (say for shooters, racers, etc)?

Finally, here’s just a little one: Whenever something breaks/crashes, we’re often greeted by an error code. Why? Whenever there’s PSN maintenance, it often ends up displaying some long code, even if the downtime was planned. That’s just confusing and inconvenient. I understand the need for codes when they could mean any number of problems, but often they are only used for very specific issues (like downtime), so why not just say the problem directly (like “downtime”)? It’s an unnecessary hassle that only serves to confuse and annoy the average gamer.

Dan: Well, I knew giving Seb a platform to complain might lead to him going on for a bit, but when he’s right, he’s right. I will not upgrade my games if I have to pay full price, and I did take Sony up on their $10 upgrade fee for a few specific titles that they did have when the PS4 launched. So, if developers are looking to get people to move onto the new platform, it would be smarter to give a bit of a discount if they have already invested in the product.

I don’t really have any issues with the UI, but I do like the concept making folders, I like folders, you like folders, make them happen Sony. Also, why does anything that updates automatically move up to the top of my list, even if I haven’t touched it in weeks?

The big issue I have is the same one that I have mentioned in the past, the PS4 needs to have the ability to play external videos. Moving from a 7 year old console, to this brand new piece of hardware should feel like moving into the future, but instead it feels empty. I have read the comments about how Sony wanted to focus on the console itself and not worry about some of the less mandatory apps/features, but as we have been pointing out, even those are slightly flawed.

The PS4 is supposed to be a flagship for the brand, but is coming off as a dinghy when people start trying to use it for something other than gaming. The PS3 launched fairly barebones back in the day, but times are drastically different and even Sony’s biggest competitor is not only launching with media support, it is at the core of its console. I don’t think it is asking too much to simply add external HDD support and the ability to access a media server, we’ve had them on the PS3 for years. Luckily, Sony has said these are features they’re looking into for future firmware updates.

What would you change with the PS4, or are you happy with every single facet of the console? Let us know in the comments below, or if you’re worried you’ll make Mark Cerny cry email us privately at DailyReaction@PlayStationLifeStyle.net, or purposely make it public by messaging us on Twitter at Seb and Dan.