I've returned to the familiar hearth of the PlayStation 3 to review Yakuza 5 which released this week. Reacquainting myself with the last-gen format always proves a wake-up call each and every time that I go back to it: the Trophy syncing system, the patching process, the slow downloads – I'm not sure how I ever put up with it. But I'm willing to brave the issues for Toshihiro Nagoshi's seedy sequel; I've waited long enough for it, and it's proving to be everything that I hoped it would.
However, there's one thing missing from my experience: the share button. I was in a convenience store last night when I noticed that Jet Set Radio track 'The Concept of Love' was playing through the store's PA system, and I wanted to flex my SEGA knowledge by sharing it on social media. And it's not the only time that I've lifted my thumb towards an unoccupied piece of plastic on my DualShock 3: a drunken passenger's dialogue, a brutal takedown, a shot of Fukuoka – I've wanted to share them all.
It got me thinking: the share button is the greatest innovation of this generation – at least so far. Now I know that innovation literally means new ideas, and there have been plenty of those introduced by the PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and Wii U. But to me, a truly great innovation is one that sticks around: the shoulder buttons on the SNES pad, the Rumble Pak for the Nintendo 64, the DualShock controller's dual analogue sticks, the built-in hard drive for the Xbox – all game changers.
I look at this generation and it's packed with cool concepts that haven't really taken off. Sure, the Wii U gamepad seemed like a great idea in principle, but even games like Minecraft are opting to overlook it. Then you've got stuff like PlayGo – the ability to play games while they're downloading – which has barely been supported, the Kinect camera which has been quietly killed off, the DualShock 4's touchpad which is basically a glorified button – they're all failures to mixed degrees.
The share button, though – it'll exist as long as PlayStation does, I believe. We live in an age where we want to share everything: our meals, our Christmas gifts, our lazy afternoons. And when I describe the share button as an innovation, I'm not just referring to the physical input but also its functionality – the ease at which you can get a screenshot or video from your game and onto the Internet. Yes, other consoles can do the same thing, but it's the no-frills approach on the PS4 that's the real step forward.
And I don't think that I can live without it now. It seemed like such a simple bullet point back at PlayStation Meeting 2013 when Mark Cerny showed off the DualShock 4, but it's changed the way that I play. Sometimes I'll try to position the game camera just to get the best possible shot, while other times I'll replay entire chapters just to capture a 30 second video clip. It's impressive that such a seemingly small addition has had such a profound impact.
But then, I suppose that the greatest gaming innovations do have a history of seeming almost inconsequential at first. It's only when you don't have access to them that you realise how much they're missed.
Do you share Sammy's thoughts that the, er, share button is the greatest innovation of this generation thus far? Is there another feature that you feel has fared better than the unassuming input? Get social in the comments section below.