Games and social media – do they really mix?

You ‘Tweet’ me, I ‘re-tweet’ and ‘favourite’ before uploading to YouTube where it gets 1000 views then uploaded to Facebook only for them to ‘like’ and ‘share’ on their timeline before it gets seen and ‘Tweeted’ again! Social Media is an amazing thing and has grown to surpass anyone’s wildest dreams over the last 3-4 years — but is it being used to the best of its ability in the world of gaming?

Is posting the latest game you just bought on Facebook or Twitter really an effective use of Social Media on a games console? This will get the name of the title out on the social radar, sure, but how many of you have actively downloaded a digital-based game after seeing a link on Facebook or Twitter? Some I’ll grant but not many. Word of mouth on Twitter yes. A nicely worded genuine “Guys get a load of this score…etc” but not the “Dave has just got 2345points on bla bla…” I have found myself taking a picture or video of the game I’m playing with my smartphone to get my best gaming moments on the World Wide Web and that’s just not good enough.

Titles such as FIFA, Skate and Just Cause 2 have all integrated a video editing suite on their respective titles with varying degrees of success, but all have one thing in common. They have all been a little long winded or just not worked that well. This is annoying in this new age connected experience utopia we are meant to be headed.

With both the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One now announced, we are starting to see the console giants trying to integrate a more social style of gaming into their consoles. New methods of engaging with growing social media audiences are being devised and built into the User Interfaces seamlessly (or supposedly so). I’d like to give a balanced view of how the two consoles compare but having just seen Microsoft’s Xbox One announcement I didn’t see much how social media will be advanced or used in a new way. No doubt more will follow closer to E3.

Looking at Sony’s PlayStation 4 we do see a lot of new Social media features to move toward the utopia I alluded to earlier. A new ‘Share’ button has been added to the face of the DualShock4 controller which when pressed records 15 mins of gameplay, or if held takes a screen grab and places it in your pictures section for later. This feature does interest me as I have tried before to show myself driving an Evil Kaneval style, 1000ft belly flipping, barrel rolling, death defying, stomach churning mountain jump in Just Cause 2 to no avail. With the new ‘Share’ button every time I take out four Helghast soldiers with one sniper bullet or hit a 60 yard bicycle kick with Gabriel Agbonlahor (questionable) I can make sure the world sees it instantly with the power of my left thumb.

Some great wording has been coming from Sony’s PS4 announcement too in the form of their UI showing “A Real World Friends” section built into the system’s interface. Being able to not only see a friend’s PlayStation Network ID but also their real name, and even a real picture, really refreshes the experience.

Streaming live gaming footage over the internet for friends to see on their tablets, smartphones and PlayStation Vitas is a real leap in social gaming, a true generational bound to engage with gamers on a whole new level. I said earlier how I tent to refrain or opt out of social media elements of the current gen consoles but I could genuinely see myself typing in a URL to see a mate in a Battle Royal in Street Fighter or playing an 8-0 local derby on FIFA. On slower possibly turn-based games — like Final Fantasy or even in epic adventures like Elder Scrolls – I could see myself making use of the comments section too, such as asking the player to go a certain direction or telling them where I found a rare item only moments before. I think this has a real genuine tangible use in the future of gaming.

With all of the above I do feel that Sony have made some amazing steps forward and remembering all this is for free. If you have paid the Xbox Live subscription since launch you have paid £400+…no doubt almost enough to pay for the new gen console of your choice. My choice….I can’t wait for the relevantly social PlayStation 4.

Let us know your thoughts on the above and any other related issues in the comments section below.