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How Can Sony Make the Original PlayStation 4 Exciting?

The PlayStation 4 Pro and PlayStation 4 Slim are here, leaving the original PlayStation 4 in the dust. While not as slender or graphically robust as its successors, the PS4 is still a fine console. Is it perfect? No, of course not. There is plenty of room to improve the PlayStation 4, including little tweaks that could make many players happy.

What sort of changes could Sony make to reward those who have been with the PlayStation 4 since its launch? The original PS4 might be technologically inferior to its newest additions, but it doesn’t need new hardware to address these PlayStation 4 User Interface improvements. Aside from a plentiful stream of great games, here are just a few ideas they should look into. Since the PlayStation 4 UI will mostly likely be shared between the systems, these are changes that could benefit all PlayStation 4 faithful.

Alter the PlayStation 4 User Interface

Playstation 4 User Interface
The PS4 UI from 2013...or 2016?

The PlayStation 4 launched all the way back in 2013. That’s eons ago in video game years. Since its inception, the UI on the PS4 has remained painfully static. There have been minor alterations but very minor. It’s not the prettiest looking home screen, with a slew of video games and apps lined up, including some you haven’t used in ages. As well, the menu screens are bland and navigation requires lots and lots of scrolling.

It’s time for a change.

Sony doesn’t want to give players too much freedom. We can understand that. Like Apple, they want control over how things look. They want it to always look like a PlayStation, handing over the keys to owners could put that at risk. But maybe let us move around apps and games, even deleting the unused stock ones if we want. Let users create their own backgrounds and assemble icons how they wish. People spend a lot of time on the home screen, and Sony should make it actually feel like home.

Make Being Social Easier

Playstation 4 Social Interface
Hanging with friends on the PlayStation 4 should be more fun.

You’re set upon by a team of raiders in Fallout 4. They want you dead. They rush at you with their killer dogs, pipe irons, and various machine guns. You only have a few bullets left in your 10mm handgun, but you make it work. You lay waste to all your foes in bloody, explosive fashion — like something you’d see in Mad Max.

How do you share that epic scene with your fellow players? Well, it’s not too easy. While the PS4 is fairly good at taking in-game pictures and videos, it’s still tricky to share them. Uploading is cumbersome, finding the images takes too long, sending files to friends could be much easier. The PlayStation 4 is a social console that isn’t social enough.

There is a section of the home screen that allows you to check in on your friends and see what they’ve been playing and what trophies they’ve won. Sadly, it’s a bit of mess. It’s full of bland text, ads, and tiny images. Why not allow notifications when your friends are playing the same game as you? Maybe let people post like they do on Facebook, bringing attention to a brand new video they uploaded? How about an alert before you turn off your PS4, asking if you want to upload the images you took during your session? There are several ways to make the social aspects of the PS4 more fluid and exciting. While copying Facebook or Instagram is generally a bad idea, perhaps Sony could learn a thing or two from those social media behemoths and make interacting with friends easier and natural.

Let Players Change Their Usernames

Playstation 4 Profile Page

I chose a bad username when I first got my PlayStation 4. It’s simple: BrandonMarcus. How boring. There were a slew of other names I wanted, but they were all taken. I went with something easy because it was available and I was anxious to get the console running. I also assumed I would be able to change my username later, even if at a cost.

That never happened. Sony still doesn’t allow people to change their PlayStation Network ID. It’s not the biggest pain in the neck, but it sure would be nice for people like me who made a hasty mistake at launch. The good news is that Sony once asked if this feature was important to users in an online survey. So they know people want it. Will they listen? Or will I be cursed to play as BrandonMarcus forever?

Make Backwards Compatibility a Reality

Playstation Now
Play your old favorites... if you have a strong enough internet connection. 

This is a big one. I don’t know what it takes to make the PlayStation 4 backwards compatible. It could be incredibly hard to engineer this. I do know that fans want this — badly. Many PS4 owners (including yours truly) didn’t own a PlayStation 3, so there are dozens of classic games we missed in the last generation. Short of remaking all of them (like Naughty Dog did masterfully with The Last of Us) there are very few ways to play old PS games.

There are many reasons the PS4 isn’t backwards compatible; it’s no small feat. Yet, Microsoft pulled it off with the Xbox One. It’s possible. Sony launched the PlayStation Now service, which lets you stream PS3 games to your PS4 or PC but it has its problems. First of all, it’s streaming, and you need a strong, constant internet connection to play. Also, the selection of games isn’t as wide as it should be.

In a perfect world, players should be able to dig out their old PlayStation 3 (or 2 or 1) discs and easily load them up. Yet, it feels like this will never happen. There was a time when people thought Sony would follow Microsoft’s lead and make backwards compatibility a reality. Now it feels like a pipe dream.


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