I own a PlayStation 3. Please, don't judge me too harshly, I only bought it to play the games I don't have access to on my beloved PC! I mean how else was I supposed to play Red Dead Redemption?
That's not entirely true. From Gran Turismo to Metal Gear Solid, I have a long standing affection for PlayStation exclusive titles, and let's be honest, there are some great games on the PS3. I say all of this in the hope of defusing any tension the following rant may cause. It is not my intention to fan the flames of platform allegiance, I simply want to vent some frustration with a recent experience and offer some sagely advice from a member of the PC gaming master race. Sorry...
Speaking with - or perhaps preaching to - friends who are primarily console users about PC gaming, I frequently hear the same points; consoles are cheaper, easier to operate, and more reliable. I take issue with all of these statements, but for the purposes of this article I will focus on the second point.
Up until Sunday I've always bought my PS3 games from a store. Simple, right? I think antiquated is more appropriate.
The next generation of gaming consoles, whatever form they take, will be heavily, if not completely reliant on your internet connection. You can bet that Microsoft and Sony are scratching their collective heads try to figure out the best way to deliver content digitally.
And they needn't not look very far - especially in Microsoft's case. PC gaming embraced digital distribution a long time ago. I haven't purchased a PC game from a shop since GTA4 came out, and that was only because my girlfriend threw me out of the apartment for a study session. Downloadable games on the PC are cheap and convenient. Shop online and you will find multiple retailers competing for your money. Ever increasing download speeds means you can often download a game faster than the time it takes to visit a shop. Cheap games quickly, what's not to love?
I've wanted to play the Uncharted series for some time, having heard nothing but great things about it. I had the day to myself this past Sunday so I figured I would download Drakes Fortune - as it had finally appeared in the PlayStation Store - and dig in. How wrong I was. What followed was a complete and total debacle.
The store interface loads at a snail-like pace while forcing you to sift through dozens of menus to find what you are looking for. This makes a chore out of browsing for games. Browsing for games should be fun! Sony, don't make giving you money hard.
The download speeds - even over a wired connection - were painfully slow. After I'd finished downloading the game, the installation files were corrupt. In total I downloaded Drake's Fortune - an 18gb file - 5 times before it would properly install. Once I had finally installed the game, my system froze requiring a complete check of the system files.
After the hit Sony's reputation took in the wake of the PlayStation Network being hacked - and maybe for a second time - you would expect them to provide their users with the best possible online experience.
When compared with Valve's Steam client the PlayStation store can barely hold a candle. Steam's interface is intuitive, your purchases download quickly, install smoothly and it even comes with a built in utility that allows you to verify the integrity of your game without having to re-download the entire thing.
Valve have had years to polish Steam to its current level and are dealing with a platform that is inherently easier to design a user interface for. However, there can be no excuses for Sony. They are a big company and PlayStation is one of their most recognizable brands. They desperately need to update their current system if they hope to be prepared for whatever the next generation is going to bring.
Sony just make it easy.