Categories: Opinions | 3 comments

Dissecting The PS4 FAQ

Ladies and Gentlemen, the release of the PlayStation 4 is less than 10 days away. Crazy. Are you excited? I don’t know about you, but personally, I’ve made the decision to side with Sony in early stages of this console generation (despite how amazing Titanfall looks). This isn’t a console war piece, I’m really looking forward to the Xbox One too, but Sony won me over with PlayStation Plus, some really great-looking exclusive titles, and their stance against the DRM policies Microsoft initially announced. I’m sure I’ll be nabbing an Xbox One in the not too distant future, but this year it’s PS4 all the way.

Needless to say, I’m pretty pumped, but frankly, a lot of the specifics of how the system will work are still a mystery; what can and can’t the PlayStation 4 do exactly? Well, last week the Official PlayStation Blog released a pretty exhaustive FAQ to fill in a lot of holes about those very specifics. It’s not all good news, but thankfully there’s also nothing that would force me to make hasty revisions to my letter to Santa.

Look, you’re a busy person, I understand that. Maybe you don’t have time to read the whole lengthy blog post, and who could blame you? Luckily, your friends at BatteredJoystick have got you covered, so here are a few things that stood out to me, for good, bad or otherwise. Let’s get started…

ps4-announced

Some PlayStation Store Content is Transferable to PS4:

When the PlayStation 4 was announced, Sony was pretty clear that backwards compatibility isn’t going to be a feature of the new system — at least until Gaikai’s streaming service is officially launched. This was pretty sour news for frequenters of the PlayStation Network Store, like myself, who have sunk hundreds of dollars into into the marketplace over the last several years. I have since come to terms with the fact that I’m going to have to hang onto my PS3 if I ever want to play great games like Journey over again… or will I? It appears that some PSN titles will indeed be transferable to the new system, free of charge.

Although a full list of transferable games isn’t available just yet, Sony has announced that “a selection of popular titles” including flOw, Flower, Escape Plan, and Sound Shapes will be available for transfer at launch for previous owners of these games. Even if the list doesn’t become incredibly robust, its still a nice bonus for long-time PlayStation customers.

You STILL Can’t Change Your PSN ID:

If you signed up a PlayStation Network ID in 2006 when the service launched, it’s incredibly likely that you, being older and wiser, may like to update your online alias with the times. The hope was that despite, for whatever reason, the opportunity never coming around during the life of the PlayStation 3, certainly a new system launch would enable it, right?

Well, bad news for you BongslySmokes and BonerJamz out there, you still won’t be able to change your PlayStation Network ID with the launch of the PS4. I’ll admit, this news really surprises me — even other services like Xbox Live and in games like StarCraft II you can change your account name for a small fee. This feature will have to remain on our wishlists, for the time being.

Share Button Specifics:

One of the largest points of interest about the PlayStation 4 after its announcement was the console’s new “Share” feature, which would allow players to record and share gameplay videos, screenshots and even livestream their gameplay over the internet. Until last week’s FAQ, a few of the finer details were unknown, but we now know that the service isn’t quite as groundbreaking as it could be.

For one, recorded gameplay videos can only be shared to Facebook, which is pretty terrible news for all the YouTubers out there. Similarly, screenshots can only be shared on Facebook or Twitter, which is also pretty restrictive. Livestreaming gameplay can be done trough either UStream or Twitch.tv, the latter having been added a few months ago, and as it’s the most popular game-streaming service, it was very good news.

In what is probably the most puzzling news of this section of the FAQ, Sony revealed that not all gameplay can be captured, and that a game’s publisher will be able to place restrictions on sections of the game they don’t want recorded and shared. In a gaming culture where “Let’s Play” videos, eSports, and other types of game streaming are becoming more and more popular, this design decision (coupled with the lack of YouTube support) baffles me most, and seems like it could ruin the Share functionality almost entirely.

PS4FAQ - 2

No External Hard Drive Support:

The PlayStation 4 will ship with a 500 GB hard drive, which sounds pretty impressive compared to the 60 GB hard drive that the PS3 launched with in 2006. Well, after recent news that first-party titles Knack and Killzone: Shadowfall are nearly 40 GB each to download and install, that half-terabyte drive starts looking pretty small. Unlike the PlayStation 3, the PS4 will not support the use of external hard drives to supplement the size of the built-in drive. I can see myself running out of space rather quickly.

Thankfully, the PS4 will still allow users to replace the factory hard drive with a larger drive if they wish, but more options are always welcome, and removing a feature that was previously available on the PS3 stings.

PS4 Doesn’t Support MP3 playback or DLNA Functionality (For Now):

Another PS3 feature bites the dust. Unfortunately for potential PlayStation 4 buyers hoping that their new console would be able to stream content, like movies and music, from their PCs to their living rooms, DLNA functionality will not be available for the PS4. Further, the PlayStation 4 doesn’t support CD or MP3 playback at all, meaning the only music available to users at launch will be Sony’s Music Unlimited Service.

I’ll admit that these features were never ones that I was planning on taking advantage of, but many PlayStation fans are pretty disappointed [editor's note: I'm one of them!]. All hope is not lost though, President of Sony’s Worldwide Studios, Shushei Yoshida tweeted later in the week that he had heard fans outcry and was going to speak to the PS4 team about it. The PlayStation Blog’s FAQ has also been updated to reflect fans’ concerns, noting “We appreciate your feedback and are exploring possibilities”.

The PlayStation Camera Supports Voice Commands:

I have something to confess. Two years ago, in a moment of Boxing Day weakness, I bought a Kinect. I could never get into the games, but one feature I did get behind was using voice commands in the Xbox menu.

If you’re like me, you’ll be pleased to find out that, should you decide to purchase a PlayStation Camera, the PS4 will support similar voice command recognition to that of the Kinect. Further, the camera’s microphones can be used for in-game communication and voice chat.

No Guaranteed Same-Day Digital Releases:

This is mildly disappointing news. As a person who has really taken to the convenience of digital marketplaces like Steam over the last few years, I was hopeful that with the launch of a new generation of systems (especially with Sony and Microsoft’s seeming embrace of  digital distribution) that all PS4 retail games would be available digitally at the same time as  in brick and mortar stores.

Unfortunately, the FAQ states that Sony cannot guarantee same day releases of games, as the final decision will lie in the hands of the game’s publisher. Sony does mention that they “anticipate that most PS4 games will be available for purchase digitally via PlayStation Store on the same day as their retail Blu-ray counterparts”, but an outright commitment would have been appreciated.

ac4 screen

Well, those were the half-dozen or so takeaways I had from the blog post. Did I miss anything important? As always, we’re interested in what you, our lovely readers have on your minds. What do you think were the biggest stories to come out of the PlayStation Blog’s FAQ? Were there any deal breakers for you, enough so to make you cancel a pre-order or choose the Xbox One? Let us know!

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  • Armaan Patel

    Also, you don’t need the camera for voice commands. You can use the included headset, or any other headset that plugs into the DS4 for voice commands.

    • http://markschilly.tumblr.com Mark Schildroth

      Nice catch! You’re totally right. Don’t know how I missed that, haha.

      Thanks for the help.

  • Dizorkmage

    None of this bothers me, The same day digital downloads is kind of a bummer but makes absolute sense that the publishers have the final say so on when their content is available in which format. EVERYTHING else with the exception on External Hard Drives (maybe even that, dont know enough about it) can be fixed up and doctored with updates and patches, especially the headsets/DLNA. For the most part this was an alright read