Talking Heads: Social Gaming- Is the PS3 Disconnected?

In what I hope to be the first of many different formats and collaberations on this blog, I talk to fellow gamer Rockers Delight about social gaming and how the PS3 compares against the Xbox 360 in this regard.  In the following transcript Los Havros will be denoted with LH and Rockers Delight with RD.

LH: Thanks for taking time out to have a chat!  We’re going to be talking about the PS3 and its lack of social connectivity.  I have to admit, I’m a bit confused here.  I couldn’t help but notice some of your recent tweets noting that for you the PS3 user experience feels a bit ‘disconnected’, ‘unsociable’… your ‘loner console’.

I find this area of debate fascinating, but could you expand on what you mean.  Is it simply a lack of cross-game chat, or is it more?

RD: Hey, Los Havros! You are indeed right, more than once I’ve referred to the PlayStation 3 as my ‘loner console’, most recently spurred by a 360 gamer switching to PS3 and Tweeting the same thing.

Let me point out, though, that despite my feelings of solitary with my PS3, all my real life friends are in fact PS3 gamers, not 360. So, despite being new to the console, I do actually have a decent-sized friends list.

It’s difficult to know where to start, and to also refrain from sharing all my thoughts on this at once. To sum up how social a console the 360 can be, it feels like you’re missing a leg if not connected to Xbox Live. PS3, on the other hand, wouldn’t make much difference to me if I was playing online or offline.

The fact the PlayStation 3 is sold without any device for communicating is a good starting point. It shows that connectivity between gamers isn’t a priority for Sony, unlike Microsoft who box every console with a basic headset.

Continue reading Talking Heads: Social Gaming- Is the PS3 Disconnected?

Why PS3 backup and restore system needs an overhaul

Updated January 2009

You can think of this as part 2 of my previous post, ‘An insight into how faulty PS3s are dealt with‘.  That article dealt with the straightforward replacement of a faulty console and the issues surrounding warranties.  This article deals with backing up the data of your PS3, and when things go wrong…

Continue reading Why PS3 backup and restore system needs an overhaul

Confidential Sony Computer Entertainment annual staff briefing leaked

Confidential Sony Computer Entertainment annual staff briefing leakedSCE aren’t going to be best pleased at this.  What are my favourite points?  The growth and success of the PlayStation Network, the fact that the PS3 actually does have a bigger install base in PAL territories than the Xbox 360, (despite having to cater for many different languages) SCEE rakes in more profit than either SCEA or SCEJ, and my favourite one of all- Uncharted 2!!

Don’t bite the hand that feeds

Don’t bite the hand that feeds (aka Konami financial results show incredible reliance on PlayStation)- Some choice quotes: “So long as PlayStation can offer these kinds of numbers, Konami may continue being one of Sony’s greatest partners”, “Xbox 360 is home to most of Konami’s multiplatform efforts, and that’s yielded quite an insignificant return”.  Full article is worth a read.

UK PS3 install base over three times what it was a year ago

UK PS3 install base over three times what it was a year ago– This is good news, but the Xbox 360 remains very strong in the UK (Microsoft: Xbox 360 outselling PS3 two-to-one).  The PS3’s strong games lineup is in no doubt- I think this all has to do with price point at this stage.  The Xbox 360’s cheapest price is now as low as £129.99 whilst the cheapest PS3 is currently £299.99.  That’s some difference.

Meet the teams bringing BioShock to PS3 (plus new screens!)

Meet the teams bringing BioShock to PS3 (plus new screens!)– To be honest, even after seeing screenshots and various reviews of BioShock on the Xbox 360 and PC, I wasn’t really interested.  Now that it’s coming out on the PS3 I might get it.  Am I being lazy in this regard?  Yes, it’s fair to say.

Qore Announcement: the aftermath

As this latest, and very interesting announcement is quickly spreading out across the internet, it is time to take stock and see what everyone’s reaction is.

The controversy
At the crux of this matter, is that fact that Sony wants you to pay for Qore. However in Sony’s defence is the fact that there is some pretty tasty content on offer:

Qore will feature exclusive news, developer interviews, in-depth game previews and behind-the-scenes looks at PlayStation games and special access to game demos, special beta invitations, game add-ons and other downloadable game-related content.

However I feel that such content should probably be free if the PlayStation Network is to compete effectively against Xbox Live. With Qore charging for content, there is a danger that the PlayStation Network will be a two-tier system.

I will now round up a sample of Qore-related news to gauge reaction to Sony’s decision.

The Sixth Axis- Paid PSN Subscriptions Arrive
Attention-grabbing headline, but not strictly true. The majority of content on the PlayStation Network such as trailers and demos are free to access, with the exception of full games which of course, require payment. Let’s not forget that online gaming remains free. It just depends on how exclusive Qore’s content really is, and whether it will choke the rest of the PlayStation Store.


PS3 Fanboy- Sony reveals Qore – an interactive gaming program for the PSN
The article remains quite neutral throughout this article and doesn’t specifically comment on the cost. However there is some disappointing news in store.

There’s no word on whether this will be released outside of America, but we have contacted Sony Europe to get an answer either way. [UPDATE] Our SCEE rep has sadly informed us that “Qore is an SCEA only initiative at this time”. How disappointing.

That’s quite a blow, especially considering that Qore would probably be ‘almost’ perfect for the UK as well. I’m guessing it has something to do with the UK being part of Europe and the issue of localisation. We speak English too! Such archaic business practices make you want to scream.

Wired- Qore: New PS3 Online Mag Charges You For Game Demos
This article goes into quite a lot of detail about everything! Quite objective, and tells it like it is. Not really much to say apart from it compares the PlayStation Network against Xbox Live, which is interesting. The opinion for pricing is definitely worth a read though.

My only question is whether the value-add over what Sony was already providing for free justifies the minimum $25/year cost for the information. Although wrapping it in the very pretty package of an interactive magazine does make it seem a lot less like Sony is backpedaling on their stance of a largely free online environment, they’d be silly to release any really good demos, trailers, or interviews in the free section of PS3’s network from here on out — not when any halfway decent piece of content is another potential carrot to get users to pay them $3.

To conclude
The price issue is important to many people, with some agreeing to pay the $3 a month, and others who won’t pay it. The fact that only SCEA is running Qore and that SCEE isn’t a part of it is interesting. The US (heavily capitalist) market puts up with a lot more ads and subscriptions than the rest of the world, so maybe the launch of Qore in the US is Sony testing the waters. Who knows? Qore may appear in Europe and elsewhere in a slightly different format. The big question, is what if the European Store gets the demos and trailers that the Americans have to pay for, for free?

Very interesting.

Hands-on with Race Driver: GRID

Regular followers of my humble ramblings will have noticed of late that I am obsessed with Race Driver: GRID. I just thought I’d post some of my initial impressions and experiences of the game, along with my reasoning for getting the game in the first place.

Quite simply, it all started with the demo for Race Driver: GRID. The handling of the cars was a bit tricky, but once I had mastered the controls it was good. Real good. I wanted more. I suppose the GRID demo has been one of the rare few demos that I have hammered. Then the reviews started coming in; 9/10 and 10/10 from most magazines and online publications. I was getting good vibes, and so I swiftly placed my order with and got a bonus Aston Martin DBR9 as well!

Starting out
Initially you race for other teams in order to scrape a bit of cash together to repair your first ride, and to finance your own racing team. You’ll compete in a mixture of varied racing environments from racing muscle cars in the USA, to drifting high performance cars in Japan. There’s so much to do. The game starts to ‘kick up a gear’ (pardon my pun) when you get your own team together; from choosing your team colours and sponsors, to climbing the ranks of world teams and drivers. What’s very refreshing is that your objective isn’t always to come first. A team or sponsor may only want you to come at least 3rd or 5th, and some only want you to finish the race!

The difficulty is adjustable. Keep coming last in a racing style you’re not comfortable with? Kick it down a notch. Conversely if you’re wiping the floor with all the other drivers in one of your best events, then kick it up a notch to spice things up a bit and give yourself a real challenge. For me, what really distinguishes Race Driver: GRID from Gran Turismo 5 Prologue is your other drivers. Here, they are (depending on the difficulty level) just as likely as you to clip a corner, spin out of control or brake too late. The damage is fully realistic and very satisfying when you scream past another driver who clips the side and totals their car.

Race Driver: GRID

The atmosphere
Whilst the behaviour of your competitors (mentioned above) certainly adds to the atmosphere, your pit crew communicates important information to you, such as the state your car is in and who you need to beat in order to secure the current objective. The most amazing feeling I have ever experienced in a racing game has been compteting in Le Mans 24 Hour on GRID. It’s just epic. Unlike racing for hours on Gran Turismo (boring, tedious) time is speeded up dramatically, allowing you to experience the full day and night cycle.

So what do I think after my initial hands-on with Race Driver: GRID? It’s racing- as it should be. In a way, it’s all I had hoped for and more. Codemasters really deserve credit for a fantastic job. I’ve not mentioned everything, such as licences, reputation, the art of touge etc., but I never intended to (also I’ve not tried out multiplayer yet, but when I do, I might provide an update further down the line). Hopefully this has just given you a brief overview of my thoughts and experiences on this game, and a taster of what awaits you, should you decide to take the wallet for a walk. Highly recommended for both PS3 and Xbox 360 owners.

Clive Moody on Race Driver: GRID

Clive Moody on Race Driver: GRID– “Codemasters’ latest driving epic drifts sideways and at great speed onto shop shelves today. To celebrate its release we talk to senior producer, Clive Moody, about the design philosophy behind the game, and the team’s passionate love of smoke effects…”  An essential read for all gamers; especially petrol heads!