PS4: The Thing I'm Most Excited About Isn't The Games Or Hardware

There was one feature — should Sony actually deliver on their lofty promises — that left me feeling rather excited. It wasn't the games, or the hardware.

To Sony's credit, that stuff seems cool — I'm digging the new triggers on the controllers and Watch Dogs touches on great subjects — but not as cool as a feature that is a button press away on the new Dualshock controllers.

I'm talking about the social features on the system, which enable players to share moments from their games. To quote Gaikai's David Perry on what the Share button, pictured above, allows you to do:

First, what we're using is that Share button on the PlayStation 4 controller. With that one button, you can broadcast, from your game, live, 100% real-time to your friends. (...) Your friends can actually look over your shoulder virtually and interact with you while you're playing; and if you allow them, your friends can also post comments to your screen; you can solicit support from them, or you can just trash-talk with them. (...) You can ask your friend on the internet who's finished that game, to take over your controller and assist. We're building this capability into the PS4 and the PlayStation Network.

To me, all of that is huge. Let's talk about why.

First off, there are millions of people out there that use streaming services such as Twitch, and that scene is only getting bigger. Streaming, the rise of e-Sports and Lets Plays, nevermind the popularity of gaming YouTube videos are proof that people like watching other people play games.

Some would argue that watching games is a little like watching performance art — and the better or more entertaining the player, the more of a joy it is to watch.

I look forward to spectating games under that lens; to consume them as a spectator sport. PC gaming has been there for a while, consoles are only now catching up. I'm glad I get to see what that's all about.

But when it comes to friends, the feature feels more personal. You have an investment in the person, after all. When it comes to being unable to actually sit next to someone on a couch, being able to watch them play is the next closest thing we have (for now, until we get like, game systems that display holograms.)

Beyond that, while many seemed cynical likened being able to take over someone's game to backseat gaming...compared to having a game make it obvious that it's changing itself because I'm sucking, like newer Nintendo games do, this seems like a good alternative solution to making a game more accessible to players.

The allure of sharing your experiences with others may sound strange at first.

At least personally, I'd rather pass through a difficult bit with a friend than more than I want to let the computer do it for me like in New Super Mario Bros Wii. Letting a friend do it can be a bonding experience, and actually talking to someone about what they're doing and how is more useful than a hands-off solution to what you're having trouble with.

Admittedly, the allure of sharing your experiences with others may sound strange at first. Prior to owning a PlayStation Vita, or even just playing games on Steam, I couldn't have imagined just how great the ability to have a built-in function to take screenshots was (and that's not even as robust as what Sony says the PS4 can do). Now I feel compelled to share great moments or things people might've missed all the time.

Will Sony be able to make the sharing functions on the PS4 do everything they promised? I can't say, and I wouldn't blame you for being sceptical about it.

I'm sceptical, too: a lot of these features sound too good to be true. We need to see how they're going to make the features happen before we can start banking on them being a thing.

What I do know is that having the ability to share what I play started out as a small thing I didn't even know I wanted. Hell, it seemed like an obtrusive feature that would get in the way of focusing on the game I'm playing.

Now I've come to expect robust sharing options as an element that newer consoles must have if they're serious about using "social" as something more than just a buzzword, and I look forward to seeing how companies deliver on that front.


    Done correctly (and it sounds like Sonys definitely done their research and it will be implemented so...) this will definitely be *the* revolutionary aspect of this generation of gaming. I was skeptical at first, but I'm really looking forward to this :)

    I was never excited about the PS3, but now, I'm excited as hell for the PS4 :)

      The best decision they made about it was that it can be turned off.

      That isn't to show my opinion on it, since I don't have one and won't until I can use it, but that a lot of people aren't going to want to use it and they are not forcing it down on everyone.

      Last edited 24/02/13 12:07 pm

        Indeed this IS a good point. Making it an optional thing and not a mandatory thing is the best part indeed. When you're forced to use something it lessens its appeal.

        I can see myself using this option for certain games when trying to figure out speedruns, puzzles etc, which I'm gathering is what it's mean to be used for. It excites me.

    I'm a bit worried about Sony making money off my streams by using ads in the videos without any benefit to me. Or are they going to charge me extra to have an ad-less stream going? There are still a few bits and pieces about this whole system that streamers need to know before they will jump on board

      This worries you why?

        Apparently he hasn't heard of youtube.

      Sony's revenue from the PS3 no doubt helped them make the PS4. What's wrong with them making money if you like their products and services?

      Wow... just wow... entitled gamer syndrome much?

      Yes, it would be horrible if they found other revenue streams which didn't come directly from your wallet as a gamer. I mean, that could lead to cheaper products. Terrible.

    I'm pissing myself like an excited dog for the PS4, but I sincerely doubt I will ever use that button.

    I want more social features on my home console, said nobody ever.

      Do I want FACEBOOK on my console? No. Hell no. God no.

      Do I want multiplayer and social aspects of multiplayer to be explored and enhanced beyond where they currently sit for the future rather than stagnating? Sure. Why not.

      Said likely everyone, who's ever played a round of multiplayer, everywhere.

      Just because nobody asked for it doesn't mean it's a bad idea. Doing something new and interesting nobody else has thought of is clever.

      I personally don't know where I stand on this concept, I don't have a Facebook or Twitter account, so I'm probably not the target of these features, but there are people who love it. Why not let them enjoy it since it doesn't hurt me. Just because I don't like Neon flavoured rice slivers and didn't ask for their existence doesn't mean that the flavour should be discontinued.

    I think if I'm on the fence about a game, being able to watch someone else play it so I could see how good it is might help me decide if I should get the game myself and would give me a more realistic view of the game than what a trailer or video review would.

    While most games you can find gameplay footage on youtube pretty easily I think having it built into the PS4 itself would be far more convenient.

    The social aspect of the PS4 doesn't interest me in the slightest. As long as there are good games (and no YLOD, or whatever the PS4 equivalent will be) I'm happy.

      There's going to be hardware failures, it is impossible not to have it.

        Yeah, in my experience, if you get a first gen playstation you can probably expect it to die about the time the mini version comes out. Later versions seem to last forever.

        As long as none of the consoles have the kind of rate of failure as the early 360s, though. That was a high price to pay for getting to market early.

          Simply not true. I've got a first gen ps3 and it works like a charm.

            Notice how I said "in my experience"? I have had both a first gen PS2 and a first gen PS3 go after a few years of hard work (I used them quite a bit) and replaced them both with the mini version that had recently come out. You might have a different experience, but saying "simply not true" based on your one example is drawing a long bow. Playstation hardware failures do happen, just not nearly at the rate of the early 360s.

    I can see it being used an awful lot for showing amusing bugs. Wait until the next Elder Scrolls game for people to go crazy with it.

    Share button seems like a good idea but only ustream? Twitch is a lot better and can you upload vids to Youtube or no info on that yet?

    I don't think it will be as big as Sony expects it to be, maybe if the editing software is decent and easy to use but no pro Let's Players will move to it.


      Considering the amount of youtube videos of user gameplay content, trophy guides. I think it has some pretty good potential.

        And less chance of crappy music being added to it.

          To be honest, I would like the ability to do minor edits to my video's and the ability to change the audio (Not to put songs on it but to do voiceovers etc) and skip long walking scene's if need be I.E. if its a walk to the end of the corridor I could put that in writing and then skip the 2 minutes of walking for the video

        Exactly, will there be youtube upload option? It would be easier to search for the video on your pc/tablet than search on the console.

    The watching your friends stream thing doesn't sound all that interesting. But then I thought about it today when I saw some Steam messages pop up showing what games my friends are playing. It would be pretty cool to actually see what they are doing in real-time.

      To me that could only possibly apply to non-linear games. Watching someone play the CoD single player campaign wouldn't be much good because the game is so on-rails that the video stream would look the same no matter who was playing it. Watching someone play something that allows for some user creativity, like Minecraft, might actually be interesting because to some degree you'd get to see the product of the player's imagination rather than the developers'.

        But it's not about the game, it's about the person playing it. I agree watching a stranger doing the CoD single player would be pretty dull, but seeing what a friend is doing and opening an instant voice chat could be cool. Even if you only poke your nose in for a couple of minutes.

          I agree, that would be pretty cool. It would also be a great way to check out a game that a friend has before you decide to buy it. YouTube vids almost never sell me on a game - friends do.

          I'd like to see this on Steam too. You see a friend playing a certain game, and you have the option to message them asking them to invite you to spectate with private voice chat.

    I'm an old person so this social stuff is weird and scary to me. The real innovation is the sleep mode button. All the signing in/updates/legal screens/publisher logos/load screens rigmarole is enough to put me off even turning the console on most days. But if I knew that I could be playing some Just Cause 2 in, like, seven seconds from now just by turning the TV on and pressing one button, then that's what I'd be doing instead of posting about games on the Internet, which is of course far less productive.

    As long as every feature advertised for this console that isnt Facebook can be operated without Facebook, I have no problem.

      I think it will be fully customisable. Sony is well aware that some of its customers have no interest in social features.

    I die a little inside when people think its cool to be able to link up to social networks.

    The social features of the PS4 really appeal to me. I've got so many examples of friends telling me they're stuck in one part of a game, or where I've been stuck and haven't been able to complete it. For example, getting gold trophies on the rally driving challenges on GT5 etc.

    Remember YLOD
    remember all the features they took away,
    and remember the downtime.

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