Sunday, 11 September 2016

Entitlement in Video Games: Pre-ordering

I've got news for you.  You aren't obligated to pre-order a video game that you're interested in and are thinking about buying.  I know.  Shocking, right?

For the uninitiated, pre-ordering a video game is, as you might imagine, paying for a game before its release and receiving it on the day of release.  Pre-ordering is often incentivized through what is often referred to as a pre-order bonus, which might include downloadable content (DLC) or a physical good like a poster.

With pre-ordering a video game, it seems to be the same thing every time.  A game gets announced, consumers get excited, and they pre-order the game without ever having played it themselves.  But, subsequently--inevitably--the disappointment kicks in and the complaints begin.

One of the biggest complaints and causes for regret when it comes to having pre-ordered a game and subsequently being disappointed by it is that the game is not what it was advertised to be and, most of all, to look like.  Pre-release gameplay circulates and is shown to the public who presume that the footage they are seeing is what the video game they will buy will be like.  However, occasionally, this is not the case.  Sometimes the graphics aren't what they were in the gameplay footage, the video game lacks advertised mechanics, or lacks certain game modes that were said to be in a video game.  The consumer then sees this as a form of false advertising.

Now, I'm certainly not going to defend this type of misdirection or "false advertising."  And certainly the onus is on the video game developers and publishers to be honest about their game.  But the consumer also has a responsibility to be as informed as possible.

I can understand if an individual pre-orders a game and is disappointed with the final version of the game upon playing it--but only when its their first time.  Everyone has to learn lessons somehow.  But when some individuals continue to do this over and over again--well, I'm sorry, but that's just your fault.  If an individual truly has a problem with the way game developers and publishers work, showing one game and publishing another, then don't pre-order video games.  I cannot say it any clearer.  Wait for a game to be released, watch the footage (which there is always plenty of throughout the Internet), and read the reviews.  Then, if you're satisfied that the video game in question is what it was said to be, buy the game.  You will survive if you wait a couple of days post-release to purchase a video game.  No one is forcing anyone to buy a video game day one.

When video games like Watch Dogs and No Man's Sky are amping up for release, I understand that it can be difficult not to get excited with all of the hype that is thrown behind them, both by developers/publishers and by the general population on the Internet.  But we've seen it happen time and time again.  Video games aren't what they once were.  The landscape has changed.  Video games from generations ago were seemingly complete and were as advertised (though there were exceptions, of course).  Today, it's the norm for video games to be released not as advertised, and even broken or incomplete.  I'm not saying I like it, but that's the fact of the matter.  What I am saying is that you have no right to complain about a video game's final version if you didn't take the time to wait and see how it turned out, and instead pre-ordered without assurances that the video game you're pre-ordering is what you've seen to date.  We have the ability to make choices, so why not make the right one?  It really, truly is as simple as that.

Tuesday, 23 August 2016

Children and Video Games

What comes to mind when you think about video games?  If video games aren't of interest to you, then chances are that you imagine little cartoon characters hopping around to cheerful music.  Real family friendly stuff.  Kid stuff.  But this isn't 1990 anymore, where the Nintendo Entertainment system reigns supreme and graphics are made up of pixels so large you can count them.  This may come to you as a surprise, but video games have changed drastically over the last couple of decades.

Long gone are the days of the pixelated man jumping and hitting blocks, hopping on turtles and mushrooms.  While there are games published today that are made with that aesthetic and style, video games have evolved far beyond that.  Today, games are more realistic than ever, both in terms of gameplay and graphics.

With that being said, I have a message for uninitiated parents: video games have ratings.  Yes, that's right.  Just like movies and even TV shows, video games have ratings dictating the age that they're appropriate for, and for good reason.  The Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB) sets out the ratings ranging from eC for Early Childhood to A for Adult.  Most commonly, though, you'll see E for Everyone, T for Teen, and M for Mature.  So, what do these ratings mean and why am I telling you about them?

For starters, many parents don't seem to know what their children are playing.  The rating of a video game determines what age the game is appropriate for.  But to a parent, a video game is just a video game, and it doesn't matter what it's called or even what the rating is.  It's a video game—how harmful could it be?  Well... very, actually.  

When a game is rated E for Everyone, that typically means that, as the rating suggests, it's appropriate for everyone.  Think Super Mario Bros.  But when a game is rated T for Teen (13 and up), that means that it likely contains some violence, suggestive themes, some strong language, and maybe a little bit of blood.  This is where you might find some sports games, arcade fighting games, and action adventure games.  When a game is rated M for Mature (17 and up), this means that the game may contain intense violence, blood and gore, sexual content, and strong language.  This is where you find some of the most recent best-selling games like Grand Theft Auto and Call of Duty.  (To see a full detailed list of game ratings, check out the ESRB ratings guide.)

These particular games—the Grand Theft Auto and Call of Duty series—are some of the most violent video games on the market today, selling millions upon millions with each release.  In Grand Theft Auto, the player is capable of stealing, murdering, and even picking up prostitutes for onscreen sexual encounters.  Call of Duty, meanwhile, allows the player to kill, granted it's in a war setting, again and again. 

Though these games are rated M for Mature, this doesn't seem to stop parents all over the world from buying them for their children.  This is an individual choice each parent has the right to make, but unfortunately, many of them don't seem to know what it is that they're buying their children.  

What I'm saying to parents is this: take just a few moments to read the back of the box before picking a game up for your children.  Take a look at the rating in the bottom corner.  Heck, in the Internet age that we live in, a video of gameplay is just a couple of clicks away on YouTube.  Once you've seen the game that it is that you're buying, then you can make the decision of whether it's appropriate for your children or not.  Making an informed choice isn't going to hurt you.

Another reason I'm telling you about video game ratings is because children are always developing.  With that, it's important that they aren't vegging out on video games day in and day out, a constant intake of mindless information.  Not only that, but, as I'm sure you know, children are so easily influenced.  Now, I'm certainly not going to say that video games cause violence like anti-video game folks like to argue, because they don't.  But I do believe that it's reasonable to say that children take lessons from what they see in video games (and in movies and on TV, too), so it's important that they're taking in age appropriate material and useful information rather than content that they don't understand and is inappropriate for someone their age.

I'm certainly not demonizing these games.  I play them, after all.  But I'm not a developing child.  I'm an adult that is able to discern the difference between reality and a video game.  I'm able to separate actions in a video game from real life actions.  Frankly, I'm just tired of seeing children who I believe are far too young to be playing certain video games carrying the game from a store.  I often have a hard time believe that a their parent would have purchased the game for them if they had taken just a fraction of their life to research the game before making the purchase.

The final issue that I have with children and video games doesn't actually have to do with the games themselves at all, but instead, it has to do with playing the video games online.  On the current generation of consoles, most games have some type of online play.  This means that the player will likely interact with others—real human beings from all over the world.  This exposes the player—or in this case, your children—to the actions of others.  This often includes unfiltered conversation, resulting in strong language, or, in worst case scenarios, adults befriending your children with malicious intent.  The latter behaviour certainly isn't rampant (though the former is), but the fact that children are interacting with others online is something to keep in mind. Fortunately, parental controls are an option on video game consoles, allowing parents to dictate what their children are able to do on their console.  Again, it's all about being aware of what your children are doing and making sure they're having an age appropriate experience.
In the end, it's up to the parent to decide what their children play.  They're your children, after all, and you have the responsibility of deciding what they can and can't do.  Just know that video games have ratings for a reason and that it's your responsibility to make appropriate decisions for your children.  Everyone has the right to decide what's best for their children.  I'm simply making sure parents are informed when they make these decisions.  

Saturday, 20 August 2016

Self-Defence in Canada: Misconceptions and what you need to know

The fact of the matter is, whether we like it or not, much of Canadians' knowledge regarding "the justice system" comes from American television.  From fictional TV series like Law & Order, CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, and Criminal Minds, to true crime series like Dateline NBC and A&E's The First 48.  But, what most people don't seem to realize is that the Canadian justice system differs in regards to many aspects of its American counterpart.  This means that Canadians are inundated with a flurry of supposed knowledge that doesn't actually relate to their own criminal justice system, and system of rights and freedoms.

There are a number of aspects from the American justice system that have seemingly become apart of Canadians' knowledge regarding their own system, resulting in widespread ignorance on the matters.  First, you might often hear someone say "I plead the fifth," meaning they are exercising their fifth amendment right to remain silent in order to avoid self-incrimination.   That's all well and good—if you're American.  If you're a Canadian and you say that, however, just know that section 5 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms refers to the annual sitting of Parliament.

What we as Canadians should be referencing is section 13 of Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.  Though not quite so laid out, this section does provide Canadians the right to remain silent—or "plead the fifth" as some might continue to say.

Next in our series of American influenced justice-isms is the Miranda warning, or Miranda rights.  This is something I'm certain we've all heard at one point or another.  "You have the right to remain silent.  Anything you say can and will be used against you in the court of law.  You have a right to an attorney.  If you cannot afford one, one will be appointed to you..."  Easy, right?  Nope.  

While Canada does indeed have a Miranda warning similar to that which you often hear in American crime TV series, it's not quite the same.  It's more detailed and articulated than that which you hear on TV, often making sure the person being read the warning is aware of their rights.

Third—and this is just a means of clarification—in Canada, we don't have misdemeanours and felonies.  Instead, we have summary offences and indictable offences.

While these are mostly nitpicks of mine, it's still important for Canadians to be educated on their own justice system rather than that of our neighbours' to the south.  But don't worry.  The law is only all about technicalities, so being specific is only kind of important (yes, I am being facetious).  And while we're on that topic, just for future reference, know that ignorance is not a reasonable defence.  So, "I didn't know it was illegal" isn't going to fly.  But enough preamble.

This brings me to the main focus of this article: self-defence.  You're likely familiar with the concept, or at least know what it refers to.  This is yet another aspect where the Canadian version is far different than the American one that we so often see on TV and hear about in the news, so it's pretty important to be aware of the differences.

For example, in a number of American states, there is a law known as the "Stand Your Ground" law.  This law states that a person has no duty to retreat when faced with a threat or harm—meaning that as long as they're in a place that they're lawfully allowed to be, they can use any level of force necessary to cease the threat or harm that might come to them.  Meanwhile, if a Canadian comes face to face with an intruder in their own home and decides to use lethal force against the intruder, the home owner can be charged with a crime.  Let me explain.

Self-defence is all about the protection of yourself, as well as of the individuals in your care.  Thanks to sections 34 through 37 of the Criminal Code of Canada, Canadians have a right to self-defence.  But in Canada, it can be difficult to understand what exactly qualifies as self-defence, what is outside the boundaries of the law, and essentially what is acceptable and what is not.  

As Canadian law defines it, self-defence is, in simple terms, when a person is assaulted by another when they themselves have not instigated an assault upon another individual, have not provoked the attack, and their physical force in return is justified in order to prevent harm upon themselves, and the force is to the degree necessary, not excessive.  Basically, if Person A attacks Person B prior to Person B attacking Person A, Person B’s reactionary force is justified as self-defence as long as the force used is not excessive and is deemed as the amount of force necessary (Brudner 2011:878) to cease the attack, and Person B did not provoke the assault.

There are, of course, stipulations in terms of being classified as acceptable self-defence.  For instance, if the defensive force used is excessive to that of which is necessary to prevent harm or injury, that individual may be subject to punishment based on the use of excessive force, though this may often be looked over depending on the particular series of events that have taken place and the backgrounds of the individuals involved.  

For example, after having his store robbed numerous times, David Chen of Toronto reached his breaking point upon being robbed yet again.  As a result, Chen and a couple of store employees chased the culprit down, kidnapped, confined, and assaulted him until the police arrived (Canlii 2010).  

Using force to prevent a robbery is most often deemed justifiable.  However, once an attack and robbery have been stopped and the culprit has begun to flee, any further force used, in the eyes of Canadian law, is considered excessive and unjustified.  In this particular case, charges were brought against the store owner, David Chen, because the force that he used was initially deemed excessive.  Fortunately for Chen,  the charges were eventually dropped against him.  But each case is different, and individual cases’ results will vary.  This is why it's always important to understand what's legal and what isn't.  We may not like it, but the law's the law.

As long as they remain within the boundaries and limits of the law of self-defence, the individual or individuals defending themselves are protected by the law in which they may use the amount of force necessary to prevent grievous harm or death to themselves.  

So, if someone breaks into your home and attacks you, you certainly have the right to use force to cease the attack.  If you, for example, hit the intruder with a baseball bat, they stumble, but then come at you again, you can continue to use force against them until they stop.  But, if you hit the intruder with a baseball bat, they stumble and then run away, that is the extent of the force necessary to defend yourself.  If you decide to chase them from your house, catch up to them and continue to beat them with the baseball bat, you are now outside of your right to self-defence and you are now using excessive force, thereby assaulting the individual, and you may be charged with a crime.


It's all about being informed.  Don't take what you hear from TV as fact, because more often than not, especially as a Canadian, the information you're consuming doesn't actually apply to you.

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*Please note: this article is an opinion editorial and is not be taken as legal advice.

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References
1. Brudner, A. (Fall 2011). Constitutionalizing self-defence. University of Toronto Law Journal61(4), 867-897. 
 Retrieved from 
2. R. v. Chen et al., 2010 ONCJ 641 (CanLII), <http://canlii.ca/t/2f7qc

Appendix
Criminal Code of Canada s. 34-37
Defence of Person
Self-defence against unprovoked assault
34. (1) Every one who is unlawfully assaulted without having provoked the assault is justified in repelling force by force if the force he uses is not intended to cause death or grievous bodily harm and is no more than is necessary to enable him to defend himself.
Extent of justification
(2) Every one who is unlawfully assaulted and who causes death or grievous bodily harm in repelling the assault is justified if
(a) he causes it under reasonable apprehension of death or grievous bodily harm from the violence with which the assault was originally made or with which the assailant pursues his purposes; and
(b) he believes, on reasonable grounds, that he cannot otherwise preserve himself from death or grievous bodily harm.
R.S., 1985, c. C-46, s. 34; 1992, c. 1, s. 60(F).


Self-defence in case of aggression
35. Every one who has without justification assaulted another but did not commence the assault with intent to cause death or grievous bodily harm, or has without justification provoked an assault on himself by another, may justify the use of force subsequent to the assault if
(a) he uses the force
(i) under reasonable apprehension of death or grievous bodily harm from the violence of the person whom he has assaulted or provoked, and
(ii) in the belief, on reasonable grounds, that it is necessary in order to preserve himself from death or grievous bodily harm;
(b) he did not, at any time before the necessity of preserving himself from death or grievous bodily harm arose, endeavour to cause death or grievous bodily harm; and
(c) he declined further conflict and quitted or retreated from it as far as it was feasible to do so before the necessity of preserving himself from death or grievous bodily harm arose.
R.S., c. C-34, s. 35.

Provocation
36. Provocation includes, for the purposes of sections 34 and 35, provocation by blows, words or gestures.
R.S., c. C-34, s. 36.

Preventing assault
37. (1) Every one is justified in using force to defend himself or any one under his protection from assault, if he uses no more force than is necessary to prevent the assault or the repetition of it.
Extent of justification
(2) Nothing in this section shall be deemed to justify the wilful infliction of any hurt or mischief that is excessive, having regard to the nature of the assault that the force used was intended to prevent.


R.S., c. C-34, s. 37.

Monday, 26 October 2015

Video Game Backwards Compatibility: Do we need it?

The entertainment unit below my TV is overflowing.  Behind it, all of the cables and cords a tangled, horridly unattractive mess.  But why is it so cluttered?  Well, for starters, there's my unnecessarily large cable box/modem (due to my inability to cut the Cable cord).  Next, there are all three current-gen consoles.  In addition to those, however, also sit a Playstation 3, as well as, strangely enough, most recently, a Playstation 2.  All of these systems get used, and unfortunately, are beginning to take up more space than I have.

Most gamers, at this point, have traded their old consoles in or have them shoved away in a box somewhere, done with the old and moved entirely onto the new.  But me, and gamers alike, refuse to move on from previous generation consoles entirely.  Don't get me wrongthe majority of my time spent gaming is on current gen consoles, but I find myself going back to the older consoles at least a couple of times a month because there are games there that I simply can't let go of.

While we're in an era of Smart TVs that allow us to run applications like Netflix, thereby potentially removing a set top box from our entertainment units and freeing up space, if you're a video gamer, this isn't an option at this point.  For some, they've got their one console and it's all they need.  Others, however, continue to enjoy playing games on multiple consoles, new and old, whether it's a game you keep going back to, or you're playing games from your seemingly never ending backlog.  For me, it's a little of both.  I've got games that I still haven't completed (or even started), but would like to, and I've got games that I love going back to (Rockstar Games' 2002 The Warriors, anyone?).

I long to have a clean entertainment unit with minimal clutterjust a TV and one or two set top boxesbut at this point, this just can't be.  For one thing, there will always be consoles from different companies, thereby increasing the number of boxes on my entertainment unit (if you're console agnostic).  Next, only some games from previous generations of consoles are available to play on current generation consoles, whether through disc or digitally, the latter more common at this point, which means I have a continued use for previous generation consoles.  This leads me to the issue at hand: backwards compatible consoles.

I've heard it time and time again over the last several years, and still today: we don't need backwards compatibility. (For those of you who are unaware, the term backwards compatibility refers to, in this particular case, a video game console capable of playing games from previous console generations.)  All I can say is that this argument is, like most things, simply a matter of opinion.  I would love to move on from my PS2 and PS3, playing all of these games on the better, faster PS4, but the fact of the matter is I can't because the PS4 is not capable of doing such a thing.  Sure, Playstation Now is still a thing somehow, but I'd rather not digitally rent the games that I already own.  Besides, PS Now doesn't necessarily have all of the games I want to play, not to mention I'd be getting away from the simplicity that I appreciate about the PS2, and to a certain extent, the PS3 (the latter more about familiarity than simplicity).  And yes, for those of you asking yourselves, I do really play old games often enough to justify wanting backwards compatibility on my consoles.

Unfortunately, the number of individuals who would (or actually do) utilize the backwards compatible functionality of a console is relatively small, which means companies would be (or are, in Microsoft's case) putting in the work to make consoles backwards compatible for such a small percentage of their audience, or they're less inclined to do so (like Sony is).

At E3 2015, Microsoft announced their plan to start rolling out backwards compatibility for the Xbox One.  They released an initial list of games already backwards compatible, and will continue to grow this list as they work on making more games capable of being backwards compatible.  This is great news and it was received well when it was initially announced.  But it makes me wonder how large the list will actually grow to be.  Let me explain...

When the PS3 was first released, the console was backwards compatible, capable of playing [most] PS2 games.  The Xbox 360, too, was capable of playing a number of original Xbox games, the list continuing to grow for a couple of years.  And the Nintendo Wii was capable of playing Gamecube discs and even had a port on the console to plug in Gamecube controllers.

For the first while, gamers were excited about this backwards compatibility, because even though they had one of these new game consoles, they still wanted to play their old games from their old consoles.  Once this excitement wore off and gamers had become more enveloped in newly released games on the new platforms, however, backwards compatibility became less relevant.  Sony axed backwards compatibility capability when they released the PS3 "Slim" three years after the PS3's launch, Microsoft, despite its growing list of Xbox games playable on the 360 stopped adding games to this list in late-2007, and backwards compatibility ceased to function on Wii consoles released near the end of the generation.  All three major consoles put an end to backwards compatibility on their systems, presumably from a lack of demand, and from the effort required to implement it just not being worth it.  As a result, I've got to imagine that the excitement for backwards compatibility on the Xbox One will quickly wear off for most gamers in a similar fashion.

While we're well into this new generation and there haven't been new Xbox 360 games that gamers are keen on playing on their Xbox Ones, it's still an exciting launch with a subsequent peak and drop in the aforementioned excitement.  On the flip side of things, with the Games with Gold program and 360 games that gamers get "free," this may prove to aid in making backwards compatibility more relevant and help it stick around on the Xbox.

The fact of the matter is that Sony's console is outselling Microsoft's.  What this means, from a sales and marketing stand point, is that Microsoft needs to give consumers another reason to buy their console.  Even if the excitement only lasts a little while, Microsoft will seemingly be able to give their Xbox One the slight boost that it needs with the announcement of backwards compatibility.  And while the capability of backwards compatibility may not draw in every-day consumers, it very well may draw in the hardcore gamer who has yet to adopt an Xbox One and has been waiting to be given a reason to.  But at the same time, it's not necessarily all about getting console sales up.  It also might be about Microsoft keeping their audience happy, and with implementing backwards compatibility capability, they seem to be doing so, judging by the reactions received upon hearing the news.

In the end, backwards compatibility remains a topic that appears to be evenly split when it comes to the opinion of gamers.  Some believe it is unnecessary, while othersan admittedly much smaller percentage of gamerswant the capability.  Whether you're like me and would like to play all of your old games on the current generation of consoles, or you disagree and continue to look nowhere but forward, it looks like we're headed towards being capable of doing the former, at least when it comes to Microsoft and the Xbox One.  Sony, meanwhile, will continue to boast being able to play all of your favourite games through Playstation Now, a service that I have to believe is suffering and isn't working out as they might have hoped once upon a time.  At the very least with Playstation, many "Playstation Classics" are available to play digitally on the PS3, and even the Vita in some instances.  As for Nintendo, the list of games from previous generations of consoles seems to be slowly, but steadily, growing on the Virtual Console.

All in all, Microsoft, Sony, and Nintendo are all taking certain steps to allow backwards compatibility on their consoles in some form or another, whether you're able to put your old discs in your Xbox One and play them, rent them digitally through a streaming service like Playstation's Playstation Now, or buy them digitally through Nintendo's Virtual Console.  Certain methods are surely more feasible than others, or at least more preferable, but so long as gamers are able to appreciate their favourite games from consoles old and new, I appreciate the effort that is being put forward by the console makers.  But for now, until I'm able to take any one of my old game discs and pop them into one of my current generation consoles, the tangled mess of cables behind my entertainment unit will remain, the clutter a constant reminder of the lack of backwards compatibility capability.

Tuesday, 13 October 2015

PS4 System Software 3.0: What's new and what's still missing

With the recent system software 3.0 update on the Playstation 4, it got me thinking about what's still missing from the PS4 and its features.  Coming up on its two year anniversary in North America, there are a number of features that Playstation users would love to see on their PS4, but they just don't seem to be coming.  Before we take a look at those, let's dive in to what's new in the 3.0 update.

What's new:

Playstation Plus icon
When you first log on to your system after the software update, one of the first things you'll notice on the home screen may be the shiny Playstation Plus icon on the far left of the top row.  From here, you can see all of your Plus content, as well as see the current free games line up, deals and sales, and manage your Plus membership.

Events icon
Another new icon that might catch your eye is the Events icon.  While I don't believe it necessarily deserves a spot front and centre on the top row, or even on the home screen at all, this new icon gives you the option to check out official game broadcasts and streams, and to see the activities and events that are going on in the games that you play the most.

Upload game clips directly to Twitter
When the PS4 first launched in 2013, users could only natively upload their game clips to Facebook.  With the 2.0 software update, to users satisfaction, they were given the ability to upload their clips to YouTube. Now, for those of you who want to share slices of your content online, you can now do so by uploading videos (up to 10 seconds in length) to Twitter.  It's as simple as using the Share button on the Dualshock 4 controller.

Stream via YouTube
Since its launch, the PS4 has only allowed users to natively stream their gameplay to either Twitch or Ustream.  That's now changed.  With the 3.0 update, users can now stream their gameplay directly to YouTube.

Other updates
The smaller and arguably less exciting updates that accompany the 3.0 update include: the ability to take screenshots in .PNG format (rather than .JPEG format); changes (the good kind of changes) to messages; creating "Communities," where users share content with designated groups of other players; and "Stickers"because who doesn't like sending friends random images of their favourite Playstation characters every once in a while.

~~~

While this is a great deal of added capability and features, and it's sure to make a lot of users happy, what would a console software update be without complaining about what the console is still missing?  Let's take a look at the features that the PS4 is still missing, and that users can't wait to have.


What's still missing:

Friend notifications
Almost every time I log onto my PS4, my first stop is to my friends list.  I see who's online and what they're playing.  There's just something about seeing your friends online and knowing what they're up to (even if it is just watching Netflix).  What I'm getting at is that my friends list plays a big role in my time spent on my PS4.  So, you may not be surprised when I say that I'm dismayed at the lack of addition of friend notificationsspecifically, notifications for when my friends go on and offline.

On the Playstation 3, as you may remember, users would receive notifications in the corner of their screen, similar to the PS4's notifications, when friends sent them messages or invites, and, my favourite, when they logged on or offline (no, I'm not being sarcastic).  Since the PS4's launch, the latter notification has been absent.  Why?  Who knows.  What I do know is that each time I see this feature missing from a software update, I die a little inside.

In all seriousness, why, since its launch, has the PS4 been capable of letting me know when a friend has joined a party and that I can join it, too, but not when they've logged on or offline?  And yes, I know, I know, many Playstation users have no longing for this feature.  In fact, a huge number of them would probably turn the feature right off like they have for the "joined party" notification.  But for the few, like myself, who don't have a full friends list, and rather, have under 20 friends on our lists, seeing when my friends come online and go offline would be a more than welcome addition to the notifications on our PS4s.

It may be an engineering and coding problem that is preventing this from being a feature on the PS4 (which is odd, considering the PS3 has had this option for as long as I can remember), but I would love to see this feature added come the next software update.  And hopefully, if it does come, there's the ability to toggle notifications on/off.  That way, everyone's happy.  Well, not everyone.  After all, it is the Internet.

Create folders on the home screen
I'll be the first to admit that I'm, at times, a little too organized and like things a little too neat.  But clearly, I'm not alonenot when it comes to the PS4's home screen, anyways.

Right now, the bottom row on the PS4 home screenthe one with all of your applicationsis a bit of a mess.  Currently, the applications and games you've used and played most recently are on the far left, pushing unplayed games and ignored applications to the wayside, all the way to the right until it disappears to the Library section, which is a mess all on its own.

Inside the Library, you've got all of the games and applications you've ever purchased, even if you haven't downloaded them.  Sure, it can be nice to see everything like that in one place, but with all of the free PS Plus games I've "purchased" but not downloaded, the folder is bursting at its digital seams.  While this folder is an issue, it's not the kind of folder I'm referring to when I say I want to be able to create folders on the PS4's home screen.

People can say what they will about the PS3's XMB, but at least it was categorized well.  My favourite was the fact that all [digital] games were placed neatly into one folder.  Though this wasn't a choice, it's something I appreciated, because it at least condensed things, even if just a little bit.

If you look at the Playstation Vita, albeit arguably on its way out, there's the ability to make custom folders, dragging and dropping games and applications as you please.  While I understand its a mobile device of sorts, you'd think something could similarly be done on the PS4, being a part of the same ecosystem and all.

Ideally, I'd like to be able to create custom folders, placing games and applications where I want them.  It's evident that this is somewhat possible, considering we already have this type of thing with the video services "folder."  At the very least, what I'd like to see done on the PS4 is have all games placed in a folder of sorts so that I'm not scrolling sideways through a mile of games, and maybe have the ability to choose the sorting option (>Last played, or >A-Z).  Somethinganythingto clean those games up!

Changing PSN name
For some, changing their PSN name is as easy as creating a new account and starting from scratch.  For others, however, this option means abandoning their Playstation trophy collection, which they, understandably, have no desire or intention of doing.  While I'm fine with my PSN name and have no desire to change it, anyone who visits Playstation forums or listens to Playstation centric podcasts knows that there are hundreds and thousands of Playstation users that are aching to change theirs, even willing to shell out the dough to do so.  This has never been, and still is not an option.

While likely an engineering and software feat, Sony has failed to address, or at least provide updates on where they're at on this longtime request, despite the money that is being left on the table.  All I know is that changing one's PSN name is at the top of a lot of peoples' lists, and it looks like they're going to have to wait just that much longer before they'll see this feature implemented onto the PS4.

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Many, if not most of the features that I've listed as still missing are likely due to engineering constraints, or perhaps are simply viewed as less important when compared to the other features that we've seen added in this current update, as well as previous software updates.  What can be said for sure is that they have not been included in the most recent software update.  I can almost say with certainty that Sony will eventually bring these features to the PS4, perhaps announcing them at Playstation Experience (PSX) 2015 on December 5th and 6th.  For now, though, we can enjoy the features that they have brought, and keep hoping that we'll see the updates that we want to see most come with the next big software updateideally sooner than later, Sony.


Source: Playstation Blog