Failures Of The PlayStation 4

Part three of my four part series.

I watch gaming news pretty closely, and I follow as many games prior to release as I possibly can. Being so immersed in the news instilled in me the desire to own a PlayStation 4 because I wanted to make sure I didn’t miss out on any games I wanted to play, as I did with the PlayStation 3. It was difficult to not buy one back in 2013 when November 15th rolled around, but I held strong for a while.

I’m glad I own a PS4, but damn is it hard to like Sony sometimes. I’m not nearly as enamored with their games lineup as most, so I suppose that plays a big role in my relative indifference towards the PS4. I just wish that the PS4 was really the pro-consumer stronghold that it’s often proposed to be.

Blocking Features And Services

Remember back when Electronic Arts announced EA Access? Originally, EA was aiming the service to be present across both the Xbox One and PlayStation 4, except the PS4 version never came to be. Surely, Microsoft must’ve been to blame for that, probably buying up exclusivity or something.

Well, not exactly.

“We evaluated the EA Access subscription offering and decided that it does not bring the kind of value PlayStation customers have come to expect…”

Whether you like EA Games or not, it’s a little ludicrous that Sony took the decision out of the hands of their customers. The console hero of this generation, lauded for being all about the games and the people wanting to play them, decided that an optional $5 a month subscription service wasn’t good value. This is the same company that increased the cost of their yearly subscription service while not offering anything to further increase the value. Of course, a common reason that’s put forward for why EA Access was barred from the PS4 is that Sony already offers a service to download stream games to their console: PS Now. Whether or not there’s any truth to this is left to speculation.

If EA Access had been the end of their lockdown of the console to third parties, that’d be the end of this. Except that back with the announcements of Fallout 4 and Skyrim: Special Edition, Bethesda revealed that mod support would be coming to the console versions. Fallout 4 received mod support first on the Xbox One, with PS4 players waiting in the wings to get their sweet modding on, only for it to get delayed again and again. Bethesda quickly began taking heat for the lack of mod support on PS4, but the truth came to light once Bethesda revealed the reason why mods hadn’t made it onto the PS4 yet: Sony wasn’t allowing it.

When Sony finally capitulated, it happened under the condition that mods be severely limited on their platform. Namely, external assets cannot be used in the production of mods; everything in a mod for a Bethesda PS4 game has use assets that are already present in the game’s files.

Good job, Sony. You’re really looking out for your players.

The Dualshock 4’s Poor Quality

Don’t get me wrong. The Dualshock 4 controller is an improvement over a controller design that goes down as the second most uncomfortable gamepad I’ve ever used (the NES takes first place). The elongated grips and triggers, and better-designed analog sticks are wonderful. However, that’s where the improvements more or less end.

Beginning this generation, Sony’s Dualshock 4 controller had a nasty habit of the thumbstick material wearing off, much like the way that heavily used 360 controllers used to. Gamers with faulty controllers were often directed to buying thumbstick covers as a solution, but as anyone who has criticized the Xbox 360/One controller’s battery options should echo, a solution to a design problem shouldn’t need to be solved by being forced to buy another product.

Unlike the apparently solved analog stick issue, the Dualshock 4 controller still suffers from having an abysmal battery life. It’s true that there’s a built in battery, meaning that gamers don’t need to purchase an additional accessory, but being required to plug in your controller between every session of gameplay is ridiculous. There’s been much speculation as to why the controller has such poor battery life, with some pointing to the nearly pointless lightbar or the massive yet underutilized touchpad, but no true cause has been narrowed down.

Speaking of the touchpad and lightbar, it’s still unclear as to why Sony insists that the lightbar always be on, and the touchpad is seldom used. The lightbar itself sometimes has some gimmicky uses, like flashing red and blue while being chased by the police in Grand Theft Auto V or showing different colors for each player if multiple controllers are being used. The thing is though, that being forced to devote an apparently already strained power source to make glowing light stay on (one of which can annoyingly glow against a TV screen in the dark) is a little stupid. Supposedly the lightbar is supposed to have something to do with the PlayStation 4 Camera but how many people use the camera for something other than streaming or VR?

The touchpad itself, is almost never used aside from functioning as a “Select” button, which is odd since it takes up so much space on the controller. Used as a way to input letters in messages? Nope, that’s one of the only uses for the Sixaxis feature in the DS4. Are the directional inputs on the pad used in any way? Not usually.

Why? For the same reason that the Kinect sensor is never used: designing game controls around a platform specific input device is a pain, and developers have better things to worry about.

Taking From Microsoft’s Old Playbook

Sony has been on a roll for the last four to five years, crushing sales and really driving home that they’re the company that’s looking out for their customers. In fact, they’ve gone to such great lengths to make sure that their customers get whatever they want, that they’ve capitalized on Microsoft’s refusal to deal in timed exclusive content under Phil Spencer.

The one month exclusive contracts between Microsoft and Activision for Call of Duty are over and done with, putting to rest the long history of Microsoft’s authoritarian stranglehold on the annual shooter. Microsoft also ended their exclusive agreements with other companies as well, with the last titles featuring any exclusivity being Rise of the Tomb Raider (which Microsoft co-published) and The Division.

Sony, on the other hand, has gone all in this generation with exclusivity deals. Destiny featured exclusive access to the alpha test of their game on PS4, early access to the beta on PS4, and year-long early access to strikes, weapons, and multiplayer maps. Some content for Destiny still can’t be accessed by Xbox One players. Meanwhile, Call of Duty: Black Ops III and Infinite Warfare have shifted month-long exclusivity on all DLC to the PS4, and Destiny 2 as well as Call of Duty: WWII and Red Dead Redemption 2 are already confirmed to host PS4 exclusive content.

That isn’t all either.

Batman: Arkham Knight, Middle-Earth: Shadow of Mordor, Resident Evil 7, Street Fighter V, and basically every Ubisoft game sans The Division all sport timed exclusive content for the PS4. Despite gamers hating the practice to the point of the company that’s often criticized for being the sole offender, Sony seems awfully insistent on doubling down on buying up exclusivity as often as it can, and people seem fine with it.

Sony’s Legacy Of Arrogance

There were hints of Sony’s arrogance popping up again at E3 in 2013, with their super classy jab at Microsoft taking front stage. The same Sony that came out swinging with the PS3 by saying it was worth the exorbitant price. The same Sony that didn’t disclose that their customer’s sensitive information might’ve been leaked until their customers had been left in the dark for over a week regarding the matter.

Like many companies, Sony appears to operate under the assumption that their customer’s goodwill is something that needs to be spent once it’s gathered. Their line of thinking appears to be that if people flock to your platform, you don’t need to keep trying anymore.

For instance, when they announced that PlayStation VR would use the antiquated PlayStation Move controllers for input, it wasn’t exactly expected that a peripheral originally released in 2010 would still be the same price, six years later. Likewise, as I listed above, Sony has repeatedly demonstrated that they’re willing to cash in on their sterling reputation again and again.

Could The PS4 Avoid Becoming Anathema To Gamers?

Realistically, the prospect that gamers would eventually turn on Sony for their anti-consumer practices is unlikely. The negative view of Microsoft is too heavily ingrained in the gaming community, and Sony holds the keys to the game developers in the east. Sony’s grip is tight enough on the gaming industry that it’s unlikely that the gaming community will grow tired of anything they do, barring them making huge mistakes.

But damn, they sure do make it pretty easy to not want to like them.

What’s your stance on the PlayStation 4? Is it really everything it’s cracked up to be? Sound off!

You can find the other pieces here:


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39 thoughts on “Failures Of The PlayStation 4

  1. Some interesting thoughts!!
    As you know, I’m not usually online, streaming games and plastering my face on let’s play videos and what not, so I can’t comment on that. My biggest annoyance with Sony’s product is the controller. The touch-pad was supposed to compete, I believe, with gameplay mechanics found on mobile devices, and that went absolutely nowhere because of the programming reasons you mentioned. The controller is also a lot heavier than the PS3 controller and all the weight is in the front, which is just a personal pet peeve of mine but really has no bearing on its functionality. I haven’t had a problem with the battery, so I can’t comment on that; I have a habit of plugging everything back in when I’m done playing, so that might be why.

    Otherwise… yeah it has good games on it, so I like it. I always hate having to shell out money for a new console, so that was a bummer, but I like the console and its games just fine, like any other, I suppose.

    Regarding Sony’s attitude, I think Microsoft, Sony, and Nintendo all have their own brands of arrogance. Sony came out on top and so it’s all full of itself now, which is really annoying, but Microsoft thought its fans needed a nanny checking in on them every day/month, and Nintendo does whatever the heck it wants because people throw money at it no matter what it does (like charge $275 for a Wii U in 2017). Regarding the pass Sony gets… I wonder if it’s like rooting for your sports team. I have some brand loyalty to Sony so… meh that stinks that Xbox doesn’t have those exclusives anymore, but it doesn’t really affect me (sorry!!).

    Also, I thought the clip about how to share a PS4 game was pretty funny. C’mon… Microsoft deserved that just a little bit 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  2. My console of choice for years was Xbox. That changed with the X1, but I held out on purchasing any other console (except the Wii U) for years. I’m finally interested in a PS4, but there are things I would never do. I would never give Sony my credit card info because their infrastructure is weak and easily hacked, and I won’t buy third party games on their console. It’s easy to hate them for doing what Microsoft has always done with the timed exclusivity thing, but I always make a statement with my wallet. If I can’t get access to certain features in a game like everyone else I won’t buy it until there’s a goty bundle or something like that. By then I’m usually not interested in the game anymore. I’m not getting Destiny 2 (um… 1.5) because PC gamers are getting the short end of the stick along with Xbox gamers.

    I’m still really looking forward to getting my pro and playing games like Bloodborne, Nioh, and Persona on it.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I can definitely understand your viewpoint. If I had a more powerful PC and a more ergonomic setup, I’d probably game mostly on that. I have a PS4 for actual exclusives, not timed content BS.

      It just kills me that Microsoft stopped their timed exclusivity agreements, but the practice didn’t die. Instead, Sony decided to amp up their deals with publishers (like they’ve been doing with Take 2 Interactive, WB Games, and Ubisoft for years) and become the sole offender.

      My message to Sony? Just let it die… Nobody is buying your console to get that timed exclusive crap. Hell, if Microsoft can learn that lesson, Sony sure as hell can.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. What I find interesting is that the DS4 trigger design was inspired by trying to fix that exact problem. For whatever reason, they haven’t been able to see the solution that both Microsoft and Nintendo came up with: Not resting the controller on its triggers.

      I’ve also been blessed with not having an issue with my triggers breaking, luckily.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. The PS4 just hasn’t interested me. It is essentially the same games console as the Xbox One, but both consoles suffered from a lack of interesting exclusives. That’s changed more recently, but it took almost 5 years to get a decent line up going. The overreliance on graphics as the main selling point, and an endless stream of CoD and GTA clones, just doesn’t cut it as “Next Gen” material, I’m afraid.

    Sony should try and innovate for once. Every console iteration is exactly the same with a slight graphical improvement. Dull.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. They’ve added new features over the generations, but innovation also brings resistance to change. I think that the conservative nature of Sony wants to maintain a specific feel for their consoles, and they aren’t interested in shaking things up too much.

      I think you are very accurate about the games though. It seems that the only innovation in videogames these days is carried out by independent studios.

      Like

  4. For the last two gens, I’ve been fortunate enough to own all three of the big home consoles and I come from a lineage of Sony allegiance since they entered the console gaming space. But the last decade has made it real difficult for me to get behind them. Yes, Microsoft made some bumbling choices when announcing the XB1 and Sony did put on a great face as the consumer savior but I never really bought it. I mean this was a company that thought their 3rd gen system was worth me getting another job for. They have an extended history of launching ancillary products and then supporting them poorly. They have never really shed their arrogance at their competitors, which I found amusing during the PS1 era but I was also in high school at that time. And worse they seem to have an arrogance towards their own consumers, like their recent comments on backwards compatibility.

    Microsoft has certainly done some boneheaded things over the last decade as well but they seem to at least be trying to do things right by their customers since Spencer took over.

    And don’t get me started on the DS4. Yeah it’s better than the DS3 in feel but at least I didn’t have to plug that abomination in after every play session. The removable batteries in my XB1 controllers last way longer, and I use that one far more.

    It’s a bit funny because the exclusivity agreements haven’t caused me to jump ship to PS4 for those games and the game sales numbers don’t support it either, considering the massive lead in install base that Sony has over Microsoft. Side note: I could be wrong here, but I think MS gets BF1 premium content a fraction of time before Sony does.

    I’m not going to lie though, Sony has released some great games for the PS4 and I’m glad they are willing to take chances there with weird artistic projects (and sometimes just weird) that maybe don’t hit well but are outside the normal confines of AAA gaming.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Oh, Sony, Sony, Sony…
    They STILL haven’t fixed the thumbstick issues?! Just ridiculous!

    I always felt like the PlayStation was the Luigi of consoles. It’s just as capable as its Nintendo and Microsoft brethren, but always seems to fall behind somehow. And also, maybe it’s just me, but it seems that nowadays, every console has a stream of maybe ten or so exceptional games in its lifetime, and the rest just passable, whereas in the 80s and 90s, even the underrated ones were gems.

    And I never thought I’d be the one to say something about graphics, but it seems that nowadays companies are just milking the whole graphics improvement thing for as much as it’s worth, even more than the actual games. Or maybe I’m just nuts…anyway, great writeup!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The thumbstick issue seems to have been fixed, but it’s unclear what the problem was in the first place.

      I wouldn’t go so far as to say that Sony falls behind. They’re a strong company with effective management. It’s just that they seem to step on their own toes a lot.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. As a semi-proud owner of a PS4, I’m happy overall with what I’ve gotten from the system. Sure, the lack of having true modding for Fallout 4 is a HUGE bummer. (Coming from someone who played through Fallout 3 and New Vegas an entire second time just to experience the sweet, overhauled, gameplay PC mods gave the game.) AND my dualshock controller does lose its calibration from time to time. (Fixed by LITERALLY blowing into the open spaces on the analogs…sigh JUST LIKE THE NES)
    But overall, I’ve played some really nice titles that aren’t featured on other systems. Which does compensate the frustration. Also, for the most part the PS4 still runs like a dream. Sans the occasional lengthy load times, which can be fixed with an SSD drive or having a PS4 Pro.

    As for backwards compatibility, Sony does need to get its head out of its ass and make PS2 classics available through Playstation NOW or at least allow our prior purchases to carry over from the PS3 system. After all, there is a clear record of all of the purchases we make in our Playstation accounts, so why the heck now?! Repaying for them is ridiculous!!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Sony sounds like the Apple of gaming consoles. I remember those super snooty iPhone commercials. Ugh, no wonder everyone thinks we’re snobs, but yeah, I can’t disagree with any of this. I remember talking to my husband about Destiny, asking him why he wasn’t playing with a certain friend, and it was because they had an Xbox and we have a PS4. Now, feel free to correct me if I’m wrong, but from what I heard, Microsoft would be more than willing to do a cross console collaboration (say that three times fast) so that players with one could play with players of another, but Sony wasn’t having that.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. You are correct about the collaboration. Both Xbox and PC are all for it but Sony has their heads stuck in the sand. They don’t want to share. I would love to see it come together, but I don’t see that happening any time soon.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Nope, not with Sony’s attitude. It really sucks, because it would bring more gamers together and would probably make more money for Sony in the long run. If I were an Xbox user and I was playing a game across platforms, it would make me more interested in what else that platform had to offer. It’s like if I watch a Let’s Play, it makes me more likely to play the game, if it’s something I’d be into.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. That’s kind of what I was thinking too. And honestly it would really benefit both companies to cross platform. Although it may make them less money because you would only be required to buy one game for whichever platform you wanted to play on. Regardless, I think it would be a wicked idea.

          Liked by 1 person

          1. I think initially they might make less money, but it would make them look favorable to another set of gamers. There’d be less of the “Sony vs. Microsoft” in their minds where they have to pick a side. The might consider looking into what else they have to offer and wind up buying one anyway!

            Liked by 2 people

            1. I can see that as happening in time. My husband told me that Xbox, PC, and Nintendo got together for a game, I can’t remember which one. I wonder if Playstation will see the success and then change their minds. I would like to see the war end.

              Liked by 2 people

              1. I think the competition between them is good in some ways, because each developer will try to improve to “beat out” their competitors, which is advantageous for the consumer, but I everything doesn’t have to be so cutthroat. All of them can be successful without destroying their rivals :\

                Liked by 1 person

  8. I’ve got a PS4, had one for three years and I feel like Sony are coasting. Microsoft shot themselves in the foot over second hand games and I feel Sony used that (amongst other factors) to build themselves a huge lead this generation. A lead they are now sitting back on.

    It frustrates me as Sony could do more. As Raccon Daddy says above, why can’t we carry over our PS3 purchases? I’m no expert, but I’m sure the PS4 has the technical ability to emulate PS1 games. Why are we getting drip fed PS2 games? Even PSNow seems to have slowed down. The monthly PSN games are always indie games as Sony is under no pressure to give the consumer anymore than the minimum.

    I sometimes wonder, if the Xbox One was in the lead in this console race, would Sony have suddenly made older games backwards compatible, as Microsoft have recently? It feels like something Sony have held back in reserve, as a fallback option.

    I do think the PS4 is the best console this generation, but I would like to see the Xbox One and Switch do well, to force Sony out of their comfort zone and to innovate new games, make sure users can access pre bought content and look to make more games (both classics and new IPs) available digitally.

    At the very least, give us Knack free. Surely no one is buying that game any more? 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Free Knack will probably happen with the sequel coming out! I’m pretty surprised that Killzone hasn’t gone to PS+.

      I think it’s too late in the game for Sony to do backwards compatibility now. They’ve sat on their laurels for too long considering the amount of work involved. I’m confident that Nintendo and Xbox will give PlayStation enough of a prodding to get them cracking on something big soon.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Free Knack before Knack 2 makes lots of sense…I still can’t believe Sony still charge for Knack, Killzone or Soul Suspect. If I was them, I would give those games to everyone via free download at Christmas, sell it as an automatic PS4 collection and cut some of Nintendo and Microsoft’s momentum off.

        Maybe I’m making a conspiracy of this, but I’m convinced Sony has got backwards compatibility up their sleeve and are waiting until they are forced to use it. Hopefully, Nintendo and Microsoft can produce Sony enough so we can get it!

        Liked by 1 person

        1. I imagine that they are going to remain more than competitive. In light of some of their actions during E3 though, I think they’re still riding their high. If they don’t reverse course soon, they’re in for another crash.

          The smart move with something like that is to just make it happen. Sure, it’d be a good ace up their sleeve, but gamers have a long memory. That’s what made people turn on Xbox and keep their grudges, and hold PlayStation to such a high standard. Holding something like backwards compatibility back, just as a card to play, seems like a bad idea. Especially if word got out that they had it working, but didn’t release it because they wanted to wait for the right time.

          Liked by 1 person

          1. Agree completely. Sony’s arrogance from the PS2 sank the PS3 and you might see the same for the PS5.

            Not sure if it’s a card up the sleeve…just think Sony have no motivation to push backwards compatibility while MS and Nintendo are miles behind. I have a feeling of the tables turned, Sony would be developing and pushing BC very quickly…

            Liked by 1 person

              1. Yeah, I can see Sony getting more complacent as this generation goes on and slipping next generation.

                Agree on Nintendo – I think the Switch has caught people’s attention (like the Wii) and has decent games to back it up. Could get interesting…

                Liked by 1 person

  9. I do think the PS4 is the best console this generation, but I would like to see the Xbox One and Switch do well, to force Sony out of their comfort zone and to innovate new games, make sure users can access pre bought content and look to make more games (both classics and new IPs) available digitally.

    I think it’s too late in the game for Sony to do backwards compatibility now.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That’s what I’d like to see personally too. They have so much more they can do to improve. If only they’d do more to compete. I know they have a wide array of console exclusives, especially in the Japanese categories, but they have so much room to grow.

      Like

  10. I used to be a huge fan of Playstation, and to see if fall is a little disheartening but… I guess that is why I invested in all consoles, right? Because I knew some things were ONLY PS4. And that might be the main reason I keep it now. I am not all about the graphics (coughmyhusbandcough) and just want gameplay. The fact that it seems like they are listening less and less drives me up a wall. And the fact that I have to keep track of what is available on which console and base off of what I want more….

    Dude. It’s like having to chose between parents sometimes. For real.

    At least xBox is giving me backwards compatibility! Microsoft seems to be listening a bit better now (after that whole used games fiasco that Playstation took full advantage of and that helped them win a lot of fans) and….

    So tiring.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. I do think the PS4 is the best console this generation, but I would like to see the Xbox One and Switch do well, to force Sony out of their comfort zone and to innovate new games, make sure users can access pre bought content and look to make more games (both classics and new IPs) available digitally.

    Liked by 1 person

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