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Talking Point: How Important Is 'Plug and Play' to the PlayStation 4?

Posted by Sammy Barker

Working in perfect harmony

Consoles are getting more and more complex. There was a time when we expected our favourite system to play games and little else – but now we demand video streaming, direct communication with our friends, network-wide achievements, and more. Sony’s current flagship console, the PlayStation 3, wasn’t designed with such functionality in mind, and it has suffered as a result. Patches take an age to download and install, firmware updates are the ultimate first-world problem, and the entire user experience feels cobbled together. But while we’ve put a brave face on those issues for the past six years, the PlayStation 4 looks set to rectify them all – and it’s one of the primary reasons that you should be excited for the next generation machine.

There’s a philosophy that suggests that Sony should not be commended for fixing issues that shouldn’t have existed in the first-place, and it’s true to a degree – but both the PS3 and Xbox 360 were constructed in a different era, at a time when the importance of Netflix and full digital downloads were just a twinkle in each platform holder’s eye. Microsoft, to its credit, had much more forethought than Sony, augmenting its system with a smarter online infrastructure that made the turning of the tide a little easier to navigate. But now we’re back on firm ground, and the PS4 looks more than equipped to cope with the wealth of tasks tossed at it.

While last month’s PlayStation Meeting offered plenty of compelling information about Sony’s next generation system – we’re still squinting over that Killzone: Shadow Fall reveal – the biggest take away as far as we’re concerned was the promise of more traditional values like ‘plug and play’. It’s true that the impending platform will be more complex than its predecessor ever was, boasting a wealth of social connectivity functionality and plenty more besides. But, bizarrely, it will also be much more intuitive than its current generation counterpart – and that's the true value of the imminent hardware transition.

Consoles have always thrived on their ability to simply work, and the PS4 understands that. You’ll be able to suspend your game at any point and pick up directly where you left off at a later date. To think that it’s taken until 2013 to make this simple feature a core function of a platform’s underpinning is staggering, but it’s refreshing to find it finally on the agenda. Life does not simply stop for a Hideo Kojima cut-scene, but now it doesn’t matter. Similarly, the system will automatically update overnight, putting an end to firmware update concerns.

But those are just the small improvements. The platform will also allow you to play digital games as they are downloading, transforming lengthy delays into almost immediate access. While you’ll still have to wait for the main files to be pushed onto your machine, the time it takes to pull down 100MB or so is vastly different to a couple of GB. And if the promise of Gaikai is fully realised, you won’t even have to wait to try a game – it’ll be available immediately, at the push of a button.

It’s no surprise that these features were glossed over during Sony’s press conference – they hardly carry the same gravitas as system-wide broadcasting and high-performance RAM. But it’s the removal of barriers, the return to basic usability, that’s got us most excited about the PS4. And while we’ll haplessly plod along with our PS3 until Holiday 2013, the promise of the future is making dealing with the current generation console’s laundry list of problems increasingly hard to swallow.

Are you excited about the PS4’s improved usability? Do you think that ‘plug and play’ is a value that consoles should still adhere to? Let us know in the comments section below.

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User Comments (8)

Stuffgamer1

#1

Stuffgamer1 said:

I would love to be able to jump into a game on PS4 as easily as I can on SNES...but somehow I doubt it'll be quite that fast. I look forward to seeing how it turns out, though.

charlesnarles

#2

charlesnarles said:

"Plug and play"? (You don't have to restart your comp before you can use your new human interface devices??) I never cared about a console/comp's boot time, if that's what they mean. Anything faster than Windows 2000 is not too long to anticipate the game I'm about to play or at least get up for a soda or something. A sleep function would be super welcome, though, and seems like an easier fix maybe? Cool, though, the future is now.

rjejr

#3

rjejr said:

i don't have too many problems with my PS3 that I feel need to be addressed. Maybe getting it 2 years after my Wii made it seem more magical to me. And I never bought an Xbox360 b/c I didn't want to pay for Gold to use IE or watch Netflix. But there are a few things I'ld like to see improved of course.

1. Don't lie. Sony belittled MS for years for the Xbox360 not having BC, then they took it away. And Other OS should never have been removed.
2. They better make XMB better, it's ugly and not functional. And it doesn't work at all w/ the Move.
3. Trophies should be viewable at will. Maybe I don't check mine enough, but it's b/c I don't want to wait 20 minutes when I do.
4. Don't be stupid about DL updates. I shouldn't spend 15 minutes downloading a 1.5GB gamae or demo only to IMMEDIATELY have to DL a 1.2GB update. That's just frakin' ridicuously stupid. Patch it BEFORE I DL it please.

These are all just really minor things though and I'm not really looking forward to any of these improvements. I just want new great games.

hamispink

#4

hamispink said:

The ease of use is the main reason why i'll be buying a PS4 on day one. I would buy one eventually given great software, but I know Sony will deliver so I'm not worried about waiting. The PS4 promises an all around better experience than the PS3. Coupled with quality games, the PS4 is looking to be my dream machine.

ThreadShadow

#5

ThreadShadow said:

Why wouldn't PS4 have "one touch" capability? It was a big deal to Sony at the last CES wasn't it? Touch a certified controller or what have to the console and they are wirelessly connected, etc. etc..

Zombie_Barioth

#6

Zombie_Barioth said:

The PS3's boot time doesn't really bother me, its the sound affect and waiting for the health warning that does. I do sorta miss being able to just pop in a cart/disk like with past consoles but being able to put the PS4 into sleep mode like a regular PC just as good.

I'll probably get one eventually, but I want to wait and see what happens with the big 3 first. I'll probably pick the console with the best library of RPGs.

Stuffgamer1

#7

Stuffgamer1 said:

@Zombie_Barioth: Sooo...PS4, then. Sure, nothing's been ANNOUNCED yet, bi Sony has dominated that genre on home consoles since they've been in the business, and I'm sure they will continue to do so.

Reverend_Skeeve

#8

Reverend_Skeeve said:

Plug and play was one of the main reasons for me to get an XBox 360 at launch...PnP by my definition meaning that once I hooked the system up, I'd never had to worry about the latest drivers, more RAM, a new graphics card and so on...

So if Sony streamlines that for the PS4, hence getting mostly rid of waiting times to download system updates and patches...I'm all for it.

What really bothers me about the current gen (my XBox 360) is the lately add-infested dashboard that slams commercials into your face that aren't even gaming related anymore. I pay for gold AND have to endure adds? I don't think so.

If Sony handles this better on the PS4 (as they seem to do on the PS3), that alone would justify for me to get a PS4 as my main gaming system in the next gen.

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