I love my PS3. I have nearly more games after a year of PS3 than I had during my PS2’s life time… and I loved my PS2.
The PSN – PlayStation Network – is great. I love that it is free. I love that you can buy games online – even though my wallet sometimes do disagree.
One of my good buddies recently got himself an XBox 360 Arcade game system (found a pretty sweet deal too!).
So I went to his place and we browsed the XBLA (XBox Live Arcade) – which is the « equivalent » of the PSN Store.
I use quotes here, because XBLA is actually far superior to the PSN store.
And I’m not talking about the quantity of games (even though, IHMO, it beats PSN’s offering), their price (PSN seems overpriced to me) or even the quality of the games offered (won’t play them all :P)
I’m talking about the store itself – the way it is browsed, the way the games are presented.
See, every game we saw on XBLA had a demo, some screen shots and a short description – just about everything you need to make a basic educated decision on your purchase.
The games were also neatly displayed and easy to navigate.
When I came home to my PS3 and was treated to the grid layout (yes, I know I can change it to a less horrible layout), lack of any relevant information on games and prices that always seem to be 5$ too expensive, I’ve started to get XBLA envy.
See, I think the PSN store has the capacity to be a very (and I do mean //very// profitable venture for Sony and game developers, but – as I seem to notice in a lot of Sony products – it lacks some vision.
PSN does a very poor job of selling the wares it show – they are (outside of the main page), badly showcased, provide very little information and really do nothing to stimulate the potential customer from parting with his hard-earned money (or too-easily acquired credit).
When I go to a game store, I can pick up a box and look at the description at its back. Look at the screen shot. I can talk with the guys at the counter. I have just about every resource at my fingertips to decide whether the game is of interest short of actually trying it out.
On the PSN, I am nearly forced to whip up a laptop and ask the Internet what it thinks of the game I’m looking for.
PSN is basically forcing me out of the store, away from the « purchase » button.
That, as far as marketing goes, is usually a no-no.
In the no-brainer category.
What do I need from the PSN?
A decent description
All games should have a decent description. What game type is it? What age is it for? What is it about? Why would I want to play this game? Why is its existence relevant to the rest of the world?
What we currently have is always nearly useless, informationless blabber.
What does this game actually look like? PSN can do this, it just never actually bothers to do so. You have to buy to see.
Like the screenshots, PSN can actually do this, but few developers really bother to provide. Again, I ask, what is it that I am purchasing? What do you have to hide?
Yikes. XBLA has a demo for every game out there. On PSN , if you’re lucky, you get the demo a few week after the game comes out. The main game and its demo are not even linked together. If you stumble on the full game and are interested, there’s nothing to get you to the demo, if it exists. There’s nothing to tell you whether the demo exists or not.
It is my belief that demos should be mandatory for every PSN game. I know it taxes the developers but really, in the end, it will only stimulate sales. Except, of course, if the game is bad. In which case it will hurt the sales.
Do you think Sony wants to sell PSN games? No – they’ll want games that are good enough to get friends of customers to purchase as well.
Community ratings would also help towards closing sales. I’d love to see community reviews, but I would expect that moderation of such things would be way to bothersome.
PSN can sell games for PSP or PS3. What tells you this is a little logo under the game’s icon. That’s it.
How cool is it to download a PSP game or demo when you don’t own the device? Not much.
Games should be either categorized by platform, or you should be allowed to filter them out.
I think Sony should invest and push the store forward – it can be improved to deliver even greater content and boost its rentability through simple, basic selling techniques – its not even marketing efforts yet (almost), its just the equivalent of having a competent salesperson in the shop.
Did you know you can propose and vote on ideas and features related to the PSN?