When Sony announced the PlayStation Store redesign that went live late last year, gamers were promised a faster, easy-to-use storefront that would streamline the buying process and put exciting content in our hands with immediacy. These lofty initial goals leave the PlayStation Store's current state looking something like a disaster. Between freezes, patches, unresponsive menus, and an interface that makes finding old content harder than ever, it's hard to believe that the new Store is any kind of improvement over the old.
Moreover, frequent maintenance periods plague the PlayStation Network. In Sony's defense, gamers are usually made aware of these downtimes well before they go into effect. But this past week, things took a sour turn. Monday's scheduled maintenance period seemed to bleed into Tuesday's weekly Store update when hour after hour passed with games like Dragon Fantasy Book I and Injustice: Gods Among Us nowhere to be found. Never mind that the PlayStation Store never updates at a regular TIME; this week, it didn't even make the proper DAY.
Sony may be leading the console race in terms of indie support and exclusives, but if the folks in Foster City want to seal the deal on next-generation success, they better make damn sure that PlayStation 4 sees serious upgrades to the PlayStation Store. Here are 10 suggestions, for starters:
1. Do away with weekly updates entirely. Let developers decide when to launch their games. Give them deadlines for submission of descriptions and art, and make it happen.
2. Simplify navigation. How? For starters, let's try a radial menu with four options: PS4, PS3, PS Vita, PS Plus. Pushing the analog stick in any direction moves to the next layer of content for each plaform: Games, DLC, Demos, and Media. In each category, list items Newest First by default. Give the player full search support with a keyboard like Steam's Big Picture Mode.
3. Put hot sellers and new releases in a 10-item scrolling flash banner, front and center. L1 and R1 move through tabs. Hitting X opens the item we land on. (Also, give priority to indies. Everyone knows when the big games are coming out.)
4. Give us recent discounts in simple list form. Pressing Square opens a list of the 20 most recent discounts, with D-pad and X used for scrolling and selecting.
5. The download lists of some gamers number in the thousands. Give us letter-by-letter search to narrow that bugger down in seconds.
6. Why is there a $5 minimum deposit for adding money to our PSN wallet? It's ridiculous, and it discourages sales. Get rid of it.
7. Live updates with no patches. It's a marketplace, not a game.
8. Let us record video with the new PlayStation Camera to upload as user reviews--better yet, let us incorporate game footage! Screen them for quality / profanity, then put 'em up on the game pages.
9. The ESRB is fine, but Sony can do better. Give parents a clear, immediate indication of whether a game is appropriate. Put one or two sentences about the game's thematic content (intense violence? brief sex scenes?) on the side of each game page.
10. Make it work. No hang-ups , no freezing, no system crashes.
10 1/2. Selecting 'Buy' should bring up three options after processing the transaction, every time: Play Now, Download Now, Download Later.
I've had my say, but what do you think? Does the PlayStation Store need to improve for PS4? Do I have good ideas? Are yours even better? Drop them in the comments section below.