25 Features Missing / To Improve The PlayStation 4 Social Ecosystem

Playstation-4-Social-Networking

The PlayStation 4 has launched in a generation defined by social integration, multimedia applications, and personalization of our online identities. All the while building on its predecessor, PlayStation 4 has made it clear that this time around, Sony is intent on making the social and personal ecosystem of what were once simply game-playing machines, into something versatile and intuitive.

I present here a list of improvements that Sony can make, both building on what already exists on the PlayStation 4, while also talking about strange things they’ve excluded that were on the PlayStation 3. Let’s start with the latter.

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1. Themes, both dynamic and static

Blue is just not my thing.

2. Status Comments

I really miss these. Being able to shout out a simple comment “Finally got Killzone!” or ask a simple question “Is Octodad worth it?” were amazingly effective ways to personalize and communicate with your whole friends list.

3. Online statuses (appear offline)

Not only did PlayStation 4 seemingly take away the ability to set your status to “Away”, but they failed to include the ability to “Appear Offline”. Both pretty helpful tools to leave your friends’ list from spamming your inbox or sending you invites you’d rather not receive.

4. PSN ID Themes

I really enjoyed being able to customize my PSN ID with a background colour. This was also nicely expanded on PS VITA. Unfortunately, we get more blue on PS4. Bring this personalization back! I want a nice Res0gun theme to my PSN ID.

5. Avatars

Ones I paid for are missing, and unfortunately, most are recycled from PS3. Would have been nice to see some new avatars for a new generation.

While Sony is promoting Facebook linking, they smartly seem to avoid allowing anything else, such as Twitter profiles or the simple ability to upload your own avatar. Got to make that micro-transaction money for Premium Avatars somehow! It would be nice if we could at least import Twitter avatars, but it seems Sony is aware that most people would use Twitter to upload a myriad of custom Avatars that you would not be able to openly do using Facebook.

6. Transparent in-game XMB

This is actually a bigger deal to me than it seems. On both Xbox 360/One, and PS3, you are able to bring up your dashboard while maintaining an eye on what’s going on in your game. PlayStation 4 sadly takes this away by bringing up an intrusive UI that completely blocks your ability to see what’s going on in the background of your game. Sometimes gamers will bring up the UI to do some texting while a game is loading or matchmaking. Constantly having to close the UI to make sure that the game hasn’t started yet, and then popping up the UI again to finish your multitasking is annoying. While “Snap” on Xbox allows for effective multitasking, it would be nice if PS4 could bring back the transparency UI of PS3, or give us our own “Snap”, via picture-in-picture, if such a thing is possible.

While loading the whole UI would probably cause slowdowns, a custom in-game UI like Xbox One and Xbox 360 has would be fantastic. Personally, I think it’s even long overdue. Xbox One has an amazing in-game UI that pops up from the bottom. Absolutely non-intrusive, and incredibly designed, the Xbox One’s in-game UI is something Sony needs to work on bringing to PlayStation 4.

7. Game/Media Folders

Self-explanatory.

8. Subject Line in messages received

This is another one of those “more important than it seems” deals. Sometimes I send a lot of small texts that can easily be read on the message pop-up notification. A simple “Invite me plz”, or “Coming over 2day?”, “OK, thanks” are the kinds of small-talk messages constantly sent on PS3. It allowed me to prioritize whether or not I should open them or not. On PlayStation 4, you are only told that you have a new message, and then must go through several clicks of the d pad to simply read it. It’s one of the smaller things that I thought PlayStation 3 had an advantage over Xbox 360 on. I really despised having to open every single message on my 360, without any sort of hint as to what the content was about.

9. Friend Sign in / out notification

Shocking exclusion, but I want to know when my buddy comes online, or signs off. The exclusion of this makes an otherwise socially connected network seem oddly disconnected.

PlayStation 4 Social Network

THINGS TO ADD:

10. Instant-open notifications

A bit odd that game invites have this, but messages don’t. It’s a bit of a nuisance to go through about 4-5 button presses just to open a message. And with the disappearance of subject lines, opening those messages with one-word texts becomes even more annoying. The same goes for unlocking trophies.

11. Changing the Size of our UI tiles

The sleek, sexy icon tiles of the PS3 allowed for the background themes to really shine. Having an option to reduce the bulking size of some of these icons can allow some themes to really look nice.

12. Adding comments to profile walls

Like Facebook, a wall to post on your friends’ profiles would be great. “Hey, playing Madden this Friday, join us?”, “Great game dude, let’s play again sometime”.

13. Making Trophies Competitive

While trophy rarity is great, it would be awesome to have regional / friend leaderboards to compare and view. A simple leaderboard, as opposed to the more archaic one-person “compare” option we’ve had since PlayStation 3 would make the social nature of trophy collecting more next-gen. Trophy rarity is something that was already available on independent stat-tracking sites like psnprofiles.com, a website that did other cool things like show you “Trophy Milestones”, as well as highlighting your rarest trophies on your profile (something I’ll emphasize under “Crowning Moment” below).

14. Fleshing out Profiles to promote Gaming

Disappointingly, you can still only tell your friends your spoken languages as the primary information about you as a user. “Favourite Game”, “Favourite Series”, “Most Anticipated Game”, “Now Playing”, and “Favourite Genre” are all the kinds of information I expect to read on a gaming console’s user profiles. I don’t care what language you speak, though having a flag next to your name would also be nice. These are ways to make gamers feel like gamers, while connecting friends to each other in ways you would expect from a gaming console.

15. Pinning Your “Crowning Moment”

One of my best memories on the PS3 was getting a 70 Million high score on Super Stardust. I aim to do the same with Res0gun. The Activity Feed does a good job of showing off my achievements to friends, “Alpha scored a new high score on Res0gun!”. Unfortunately, with the amount of friends and gaming done, these genuinely good moments get buried way too fast. It’d be great if we could “pin” certain achievements to our profiles, for the world to see. I’d love to permanently commemorate that time I beat the lap record in Driveclub, complete with an attached “Share” clip. Essentially, there should be a spot on our profiles that allow us to highlight our best PlayStation moment, and an ability to attach a clip to show off our best moment, allowing for it to live on forever. Those of you who painstakingly achieved that Demon’s Souls platinum, wouldn’t you like this moment to be highlighted on your profile, for the world to see?

This takes sharing to a whole new level, which leads to the next thing:

16. Share Vaults on our Profiles and PlayStation – YouTube

On your own profile, you can see a link to your own videos. Why not the same for our friends? Allowing users to have access to their friends’ share captures would be an excellent way to push the social media features of the PS4. While Facebooking and Twitter are open venues, building a video/screenshot community right into the PS4 would guarantee seamless integration. Live with PlayStation builds these foundations, but a YouTube-like app dedicated to the PS4’s sharing features, complete with the ability to edit videos with commentary would help foster and filter PlayStation 4 to be a gaming / social hub.

17. Friend Folders

Simple and effective, allowing us to group friends into folders allows for an easy way to manage our 2000 limit lists. Adding additional features like group-invites, and copying one friend into multiple folders would be icing on the cake.

18. Highlighting Friend Activity on Game Profiles

Straight from Steam, but very useful: highlighting the “Users who Own this Game” under the Game Profiles to show who is currently playing said game would be a neat little addition to streamlining the social features of the PS4. Sometimes, I’m motivated to boot up a game solely if I see a friend playing.

19. Bookmarking / Gifting Games to Friends

Not sure how feasible this is, but it’d be awesome to create bookmarks for games I’d like to own, with the ability to get information from those games streamed right into my activity feed. Suppose I’m interested in Battlefield 4 but am holding off because of the poor networking issues plaguing the game. I would simply “bookmark” the game, through the PlayStation Store, and when EA releases information regarding the game, such as patches, DLC news, etc. I’ll be able to then read these on my dashboard. Not only does this connect the gamer to the game, but it allows important news information/advertising to become much more readily available to the millions who boot up their consoles. Gifting games to friends is also a neat feature that comes out of bookmarking / wishlisting games.

I think an even better opportunity here is to allow non-owners of games to download game updates/patches to have ready and installed before they buy games on their bookmarked list. Imagine buying Battlefield 4 six months down the line only to sit upwards of 30 minutes to download and install the game, and THEN download and install the numerous patches that have since come out.

20. Reviewing Games

The 5-star ratings of games on PlayStation Store is flawed. It’s easy to buy a game, and then instantly rate it an arbitrary 5 stars without even actually playing the game. And since a majority of fans seem to automatically rate their purchases 5 stars, it becomes hard to get an accurate read on the game. This is where it would be great to have a section dedicated to writing and reading reviews, much like Amazon, or what you’d find on LittleBigPlanet. Simple, yet effective in promoting social interaction and confidence in purchasing titles off PSN.

21. Touchpad UI

It’s a bit disheartening that even Sony isn’t using the touchpad for what seem like obviously great uses. Navigating the browser and “Swype” texting is a big one. But even being able to hotfix swipe gestures to automatically open configured apps would be fantastic. How awesome would it be if I could make the touchpad instantly open the browser by swiping up? Open my friends list by swiping left? Launch Netflix by swiping down? Of course, turning the touchpad into a good old, precision scroller for the UI would also be good.

22. Twitter-like Following

This is one of the most impressive things about the Xbox One, and something that I think is a great way to push the social aspects heavily touted by PlayStation.

23. Concurrent PSN Activity

Another feature from Xbox One, and Steam, this allows us to see the top games being played at any given moment. As someone who loves statistics, this would just make me incredibly happy.

24. Activity Logging

Straight from Wii U/3DS, this is something that I’d actually check practically every week. Being able to tell how many hours I sink into my games makes me feel really proud, and also really depressed. But I can’t help but like knowing how I spend my time with games. I want this bad.

25. Reworking the What’s New/Activity Feed

I really think this is a great, socially integrated concept, but the layout can be messy. As I said above, there are ways in which we could have information come to our “What’s New” via publisher updates (see “Bookmarking”), personally pinned achievements (see “Crowning Moment”), or other options. It would be great if we could organize the What’s New, and have Sony update it in a way to show us information on highlighted games and our friends list. I don’t need to know every time that my friend has launched Res0gun. But I would like to know when my friends purchase games I also own, or see them break records, or see publishers send out patch information, DLC news, etc. The “What’s New” / Activity Feed should and can be a great hub to connect gamers to each other, and to the publishers / developers of games. Content gets advertised in a sensible way, fans are in the know, and PlayStation gets to become the socially-connected platform its been striving to be. Everybody wins!

Conclusion:

As you can see, PlayStation 4 has some solid foundations for both the social and personal dimensions that make next-gen consoles so appealing. Gamers these days do more than load up a game and play, as their friends, trophies, and personalizations carry with them. The console is no longer “a console”, but “my console” with “my account”, and “my settings”. It’s amazing how far we have come, and how influenced gaming machines are by the larger society around us. The PlayStation 4 attempts to utilize this with its emphasis on media streaming, social-media integration, and multitasking / personalization of gaming experiences. It’s going to be amazing to compare PlayStation 4’s ecosystem from now and three to four years down the line.

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Editor’s Note: RealGamerNewZ has moved web servers, some older posts can no longer be commented on and have been preserved without their images. Thank you for your understanding in this matter. This article was written by -Alpha  on 20131128 and was last modified on 20131128 .