Sony says it will “keep you posted” about recent changes to party chat on PS4 after users complained about how much more restrictive they make the feature.
“Hey folks – just wanted to let you know that we’re looking into your feedback on the recent changes to Parties on PS4,” PlayStation tweeted out over the weekend. “Thanks for speaking up – we’ll keep you posted.”
The changes in question are part of firmware 8.00, which went live last week and was primarily aimed at overhauling how people communicate on PS4 prior to the PS5’s release next month. In addition to a new notification that PS4 users might be recorded by people they talk to on PS5, the update also made it harder to join existing party chats on the current-gen console.
“Both apps will now use the same ‘Groups’ of players for Party voice chats and message exchanges, instead of having different groups setup across the two apps,” Sony’s Sid Shuman wrote over on the PlayStation Blog. “So now you can start a Party chat or send a message to the group you’ve previously chatted with across PS4, as well as PS5 when it launches.”
The alarm bells didn’t go off in my head when I originally read that, in part because of the empowering phrasing “you can.” But in practice this means that the only way to start a party to talk out loud with people is to first invite everyone to a group message. In addition to adding another cumbersome step to an already sluggish end-of-generation UI, this change also prevents people from easily joining the party if they happen to pop on after the fact. The PS4’s original party chat system was far from ideal, but the updated version is even more limited.
“Fuck the new party system, all my homies hate the new party system,” reads one of the most upvoted comments on the PS4 subreddit post linking to the changes. The changes went slightly under the radar at first, as most people focused on privacy concerns over the new recording functionality for PS5 users and the fact that PS4 owners have no choice but opt-in. Even now, that’s what most of the comments responding to the PlayStation tweet about party chat feedback focus on.
Party chat functionality itself remains a mess, though. Before, it was easy to log on every night, see who on a friends list was playing which online game, and then join one of those parties to join a match or just complain about the latest meta. No longer. At least for the time being. It’s weird to see the user experience actually decline seven years into a console’s lifespan. Hopefully this doesn’t mean communication on PS5 will be subject to similarly annoying limitations.