Viewing entries tagged
Playstation 3

650,000,000 Downloads via Playstation Store; Facebook Connect Goes Live

Facebook and Zynga in particular have become the center pieces for micro-transactions, social gaming and in-game purchasing habits... so much so that the activity on Microsoft's Xbox Live and Playstation's Playstation Store are often overlooked.

Tied to the recent price break on the Playstation 3 system (which moved nearly 500,000 units in September - 2x their August number), they announced that 650 million pieces of content have been downloaded to date via the Playstation Store.

That is a very big number considering that: - there are 31 million registered Playstation Network accounts ... an average of 20+ downloads per user - the time online for the Playstation is significantly different than a Facebook user (and more costly) This was also announced before Playstation's Facebook Connect integration went live (November 16th).

Whether you believe that Farmville is the future of gaming, it is tough to argue that it doesn't represent key elements of what traditional gaming has and will become:

- Inherently social both during and between game play (Facebook Connect is an example) - Featuring in-game micro-payments (a greater percentage of those 650m downloads will shift to small, paid orders) - Cross platform (and I do not mean Xbox vs. PS3 vs. Wii: game play to some degree will exist between the game itself, site's like Facebook and the community - via the online stores and Facebook Connect enabled micro-sites)

ps3-facebook-official-rm-eng

Netflix Streaming Arrives on Playstation 3

I have been a Netflix subscriber for a few years - sometimes very active and other times 'pausing' my account. I was excited to have Netflix (finally) arrive on Playstation 3 because it is a potential solution to what many Netflix subscribers suffer from (including me): laziness and hassle. All things being equal, on-demand streaming certainly provides a better experience than mail rentals (which is why Comcast On-Demand is so great). So I was interested in three things about the Netflix / PS3 integration:

1. Activation and Netflix.com integration 2. User experience on the PS3 system 3. Picture quality

#1 and #3 were terrific - Netflix walked subscribers through the activation process clearly and easily. And the picture quality and movie controls are excellent. For starters, a disc arrives that has thorough instructions on the envelope, sleeve and disc:

netflix ps3 disk

Once you insert the disc into the system, you are asked to activate the unique code on Netflix.com. When you visit the site, you are immediately prompted to do the same:

netflix ps3 activation

A couple seconds later, the system activates and you arrive at a slick UI with movies from your online queue (which seems to be the best way to manage content):

netflix on tv

The picture quality is crisp and the streaming was quick, uninterrupted and only required a slight delay before the movie started. A few hours after the movie's competition, Netflix follows up via email to ask about the picture quality and experience - a surprising but welcome email (excellent customer communication):

netflix email follow up

So what needs improvement? The finding experience (recognize a theme in usability issues across the web? iTunes, eBay, Facebook, etc all suffer these issues) is nearly unusable. The best way to find (search isn't even an option) and manage content is through Netflix.com - which historically is a leader in UI.

With full online support clearly available on the PS3, there is an opportunity to merge the two experiences with a Netflix-lite module that users can opt to browse through.

Very promising start that certainly makes my subscription more valuable / productive.

The Next Step in iPhone Gaming: Nintendo NES

At the break of the new year, I listed 20 predictions for Digital Media in 2009. The third prediction was: iPhone Gaming Will Progress Beyond Novelty

At the time of that article, the biggest application was iFart which, while not a traditional game, represented what one of three game types to successfully hit the iPhone:

1. Accelerometer based games (SGN is the king here) 2. Role playing games / storyline games (such as iMob and SGN's Agency Wars) 3. Novelty games (iFart, Beer Pong)

I find games like iMob and Agency Wars fascinating because they are perfect for the iPhone: always connected, progressing storylines and ideal for several short play sessions.

I also think that what SGN has built for with their accelerometer-based sports games is terrific - bringing together the Wii's form-factor with the connectivity of mobile (and now Facebook Connect).

But I want more. I find the current gaming offers interesting.... but mostly ephemeral. Nothing, for instance, I would shell out $9.99 or $29.99 for... after all, Playstation 3 games now run $59.99 - and I spend a lot more time with my iPhone.

The next generation of iPhone gaming needs to look back to the original Nintendo. Place the original track pad and A/B buttons on the iPod's touch screen... and use traditional gameplay navigations that have been a staple of controllers for ages:

iphone-game-575 Even though it is less sexy than developing against the iPhone's accelerometer, gameplay would be richer and longer-lasting. Super Monkey Ball is fun... but the novelty wears off soon there after - particularly when the controls aren't terrific.

Imagine connected, online equivalents of Super Mario 3 or Zelda that play on the iPhone and tap into Facebook Connect... it might not be sexy (and I might be dating myself) but it would be powerful. And with the creativity and horsepower developing against the iPhone - why can't the next Mario, Zelda and Metroid emerge?

Update: To be clear, I am not suggesting that the iPhone bring back Nintendo games (see comments); rather, the point was that Nintendo-inspired controls would introduce more compelling games on the iPhone.