"We're happy & appreciative to learn so many people use and like PS3's media features."
Along with Sony's release of the PS4 FAQ yesterday, Sony dropped several small details about the media capabilities of the PS4. As stated, no current or future MP3 support or DLNA Support. No audio CD support, and both DVDs and Blu-rays will only be playable after an initial (one-time) online activation, which can be worked around by requesting an activation disc from Sony. The question of whether or not the PS4 can even play an MP4 or AVI off of a flash drive remains unanswered.
This lack of media functionality follows the lack of backwards compatibility for games. With the exception of a few PSN titles, and a few upgradeable recent PS3 releases, the PS4 eschews every single PlayStation 1/2/3 title.
The lack of backwards compatibility for PS3 and PSN titles has been known for months, but when combined with the crippled media capabilities, Sony's message seems clear, the PS4 has been made to deliver every facet of the Sony Digital ecosystem, with no greater example than the push for subscription music service, Sony Music Unlimited.
Since the release of the FAQ, some tweets from Shuhei Yoshida hold some promise for the restoration of media capabilities. "Thanks for the feedback to the lack of MP3 and DLNA support at the launch of PS4. I'll share with the PS4 Dev team for future consideration."
"Had a very good discussion w the PS4 Dev team today. We're happy & appreciative to learn so many people use and like PS3's media features."
Now Sony may in the coming months or years restore MP3 playback and DLNA support, and may even establish a way for Gakai streaming to allow PS3 game owners to play PS3 games on the PS4. Unfortunately though, the current PS4 moves are very reminiscent of past Sony pushes against their existing customers. From the removal of features from the PS3, like PS2 game support, the PSP Go, and the disregard for UMD owners, and the ongoing Vita-killing memory card scheme, Sony has pursued a new digital ecosystem while trampling on their current customers.
Compare a launch PS3 and PS4, and only one of those devices seems like both a media hub and gaming powerhouse. Lousy launch line-up or no, the launch PS3 had a huge library of PS2 and PS1 titles for early adopters. In contrast, the PS4 has, well, 'Contrast.'
Not unlike a Windows phone, the PS4 seems to be emulating the worse aspects of a successful product, the Apple iPhone/iPad. A locked down ecosystem, but without the massive library of software and media that make it worth the restrictions. Blu-ray movie and DVD support, as well as the swappable hard drive, just seem like concessions.
Meanwhile, the Xbox One, which already underwent a digital meltdown, will need a launch-day patch to undo the console's original content delivery system. Despite the reversal being several months ahead of launch, a production console product launch needs several months in order to have its production image finalized. That leaves this current PS4 feature outlook in a harsh light. For how long has Sony been planning on turning the PS4 in to an iTunes-like machine? Since 2008? Since E3? And how long will it take to undo the iTunes design? What kind of pressure, be it an outcry or lack of sales, will it take for Sony to begin this process?
Author: Brian Hoss