Wednesday 7 July 2010

PSN v's Live

Whoa.  Debate was a raging on da twitter today.  Well between me an AT (@maverick99sback) anyway.  And low and behold AT has written a post about it where he airs his grievances with Sony and reviews the new map pack for MW2.  Go read it, good stuff.

So here is my take on it and why, despite my own issues with Sony, I still think they offer better all round value.

PSN is free.  Forget that I chose to upgrade to the new PSN+ service for a second, the basic offer is free and has remained free.  Sony, until very recently haven't had a revenue stream from their online service and that has led to something of an acceptance for the occasional balls up and the rare bit of bugging out and complete drop outs.  And to be fair to Sony this has got better and better over the three years since the PS3 launched.

Microsoft have had the upper hand for a number of reason.  Their service existed before the launch of the 360 and they have years of experience running online products for their customers in various guises.  Xbox Live just works, but you pay for the privilege to game online, around £40 a year.  What you get for that is a solid service, with a machine that's built with gaming over the internet in mind.  Microsoft revolutionised gaming on consoles by totally driving their machine to deliver on that front.  Sony were always playing catch up.

PSN+ is new and maybe Sony will give those that take it up the opportunity to get their hands on DLC early, but I don't believe that giving punters a few hours advantage over others, would make any difference for a number of reasons.  Mainly you'd have to be at home to take advantage of those few extra hours and lets say take up for PSN+ is at the moment 'slowish', the chances are, even if you were at home, there'd be very few other people online to play once you'd got the content.  The PSN+ service is not trying to give it's users that kind of opportunity, it's about exclusive BETA testing of new product, the chance to play new titles before choosing to buy and getting a discount on some DLC.  I was never expecting to see any product from Activision come out with any discounting on release day, they are notoriously money grabbing.  Where I could see it working is PSN+ giving users the chance to download exclusive DLC that neither 360 owners or non paying PSN users could get hold of for a single player title and maybe that's where Sony might head in the future.

Microsoft have the money to throw at games developers to get content and titles first.  Sony quite simply do not.  In a few short years they have gone from leading the pack to trailing in third place behind the 360 and the Wii (spits).  So owning a PS3 can be frustrating, I get that, but the PSN service has got so much more stable and Sony keep improving it all the time.  Microsoft lead the way and Sony should have been quicker to recognise where the gaps in their service were instead of spending years and scary amounts of money on 'Home'.  (A subject I'll come back to on another day.)

Now AT has said that he thinks the online shopping experience is more 'aesthetically' pleasing on the 360.  It's not often we disagree (it is) but here we really don't [agree].  The Sony online shopping mode (PSN Store) does exactly what I want.  It's in full HD, loads quickly and is simple to navigate.  It's easy to jump between games and films or PSP titles and Sony have continued to tweak the design making it easier to use.  It looks classy frankly.

Trying to find a picture of Xbox Live Marketplace that looks as cool as the PSN Store is a struggle.  It's a clever design and last years reboot has certainly helped.  There's a lot more content available but it is not as easy to navigate, with lots of different menus that you have to work through.  However there is one feature that I love, it's just there, no need to load it, the store is just part of the 360's Dashboard.  It is though, for me anyway (and I get this is completely subjective) less clean looking and far more garish.  It's slick enough, but personally it doesn't hold a candle to Sony's more professional looking store.  That whole green thing would have to go if it was up to me.

Sony have their  flaws, the biggest being each territory having it's own set up.  Sony Europe are often behind their American counter parts and whilst games are now seeing World wide releases, downloadable content is often not released at the same time.  Often this stretches beyond a few days to weeks.  That just irritates the customer knowing an American has the content first.  Microsoft negate that by releasing at the same time everywhere and that for me, on a global service just makes more sense.

However, Sony's offer is free and in all honesty the two services are so close to each other that free is just better value.  You have to be patient sometimes and accept that Microsoft will be there first with content because they're prepared to pay for exclusivity and I understand why that's a bug bear, but having invested in both machines my PS3 still gets more use than my newer toy.

But it is a close thing and PSN+ is going to have to seriously feel worth it to make me spend another £40 next year.

The debate will no doubt continue to rage but next week AT and I argue whether Mario is better than Luigi.


  1. Good stuff.

    1) I think it's about time you could set the PS3 to "auto download". So not being at home wouldn't matter. It works really well with Play TV, so why not here?

    2) My point about PSN is more navigational. When the maps finally *did* appear... where were they? Front page? No. Under C? No. Down the bottom of the "latest" page. That's not even up for discussion - it's either lazy, or unorganised.

    3) If money is such an issue for Sony, start offering punters things they can't turn down. LBP with PSN+ is the right idea... but how about a choice of download? We've got both consoles. they should be trying to get everyone with a 360 to get both too.


    4) They're both ****s

  2. PSN+ does download automatically, my PS3 now turns itself on for two hours in the afternoon to download the exclusive free stuff for me while I'm at work. I wouldn't want it 'buying'stuff though without my consent. Would you?

  3. No, no. That's why Sony sort the organisation side of thing, and set dates.

    Resurgence: Released 07/06/10: Buy Now? Yes/No.

    That way it will be done when you're in, *PLUS* you don't created unnecesary delays for everyone else.

  4. I think you've got an interesting point here about aesthetics and I'm going to agree. The layout of XBL marketplace is shocking, despite being instantly accessible.PSN's store looks better and is more organised, that's just good whichever way you look at it.

    However I am going to have to disagree on value for money as having something that doesn't work properly for free is basically like having a free shag that gives you herpes.

    X-box live is £40 because you're paying for staff to sit there and debug it, keep it running smoothly and make sure the servers don't nip off for a fag break when they're supposed to be busy. PSN is free and doesnt work, that's the end of it. You can connect over the internet and play games straight away but chances are it will bug out or die on you because they're not paying for anyone to man the rudder.

    Microsoft hit the nail on the head by making people pay for the chance to play over the interwebs because then that means everyone who's playing is paying. Everyone expects the same service and they all GET the same service.

    By still having PSN as free to play online Sony has let people think it is actually free. Free to run, free to host, free to maintain etc, when it isn't. They're now in a position where they need revenue and can't ask for cash in the same way as Microsoft because they've been giving it for free for ages.

    Really though, this isn't down to the machine. The PS3 is still the superior piece of hardware and if PSN worked as it should it would be a LOT better value for money, but the problem here is the actual company.

    Sony have been fucking around for too long and think that if you've paid the £450 for the PRIVILEGE of playing one of their consoles you should shut up and deal with it. Well no, because PSN is free they can't legitimately complain when customer service is free and no one is going to pay £40 for the right to complain to Sony.

    I'm personally not too sure whether asking the general public to BETA test things is a good idea. In fact Sony making you pay to BETA test when they should be paying for BETA testers is fucking cheeky in my eyes.

    However, this is a good post. I'd still rather have X-box live, despite it costing £40 a year. I think Microsoft letting people upload there own hand-built games to XBLA and allowing for old arcade titles AND having a properly secured server to play online demos on is definitely worth £40.

  5. AT, I think that's a great idea and would be cool if they implemented it. Or imagine an iPhone app that pinged you when the store was updated.

    Steve, sorry but the 'whole it doesn't work thing' is just way off beam. AT and I have played Red Dead regularly for the last two months and I can only remember one occasion where my link to the network dropped out. And that could just have easily been something to do with the game.

  6. Oh... and Sensible World Of Soccer FTW!

  7. ^ Or me downloading the background, like I always do.