Playstation Home. Still Waiting . . .
Anyone who has played around with Playstation Home, Sony’s experimental, online, meta world where gamers can experience new levels of marketing from game publishers, long enough realizes, that the load times, and the downloading is horrendous at times. Any time you direct your avatar to go into an area, you have to stop and wait for that area to load – which takes quite a bit of time, before you can actually go there. And if you want to get into any new area you have never been to before, then you have to preempt your visit by first downloading and installing that area, before you can head there. And as can be expected, you have to wait for the download, and wait for the install, both of which thankfully can be assigned to the background while you continue to play around in your current area. All the same however, waiting around for the new area to load, is not as fun as you would think. And of course once it has loaded and installed, you still have to deal with the load times of actually going to and from the new location. Basically, there is quite a bit of waiting going on over Playstation Home. And this waiting can be a major interruption to the flow of the gaming experience.
So yesterday when the Playstation Blog updated with a video (found after the break) detailing all the improvements that are coming to Playstation Home in the very near future, the omission of Sony remedying the waiting problem, rightfully caught the attention of many fans of the service. But it was not until today, while perusing the comments at Joystiq, that I saw a comment that caught my eye, and got me to really thinking on the matter . . . not the matter of why the problem exists, I think we already know the why’s of the problem, but on the matter of how to fix it, once and for all.
“Loading pisses me off, as well as the downloading, but I suppose it has to be done that way to make it accessible to developers unlike a regular MMO.” — Spunky Monkey 190906
No, it doesn’t have to be done that way. Sony is just working with a backwards mindset and likely ancient (by tech terms) tech at the moment. They could render the entire Home experience in the cloud like OnLive has done with their entire gaming service, and stream everything in realtime. This alone would eliminate any further downloading that Home users will ever have to do.
And because Sony could rebuild Home from scratch specifically designed for Sony’s own cloud, they could eliminate load times, even small load times that would only last a couple of seconds, completely.
Steve Perlman, the CEO of OnLive, on many occasions, has stated that once games are designed from the ground up with the cloud in mind to take full advantage of the technology, downloads, installs, and load times will disappear – completely. This is a sentiment that was recently mirrored by game industry IT personnel as well as several game industry CTOs (Chief Technology Officer) from game publishers ranging from EA, to THQ, to even GameStop, who gathered at the recent Cloud Gaming USA conference.
I only bring all this up, because Home is already hosted in the cloud. But Sony (so far, maybe in the update they will change this) has executed it ass-backwards. They’ve designed Home like a regular game, where you have to do all the processing of the game locally, and then when you go to a new area, you have to download and install the code for that new area, before you can actually visit that new area, and also run it locally. Sony is not using the cloud at all, for nothing else but storage of Home, which ultimately is an inefficient usage of the resources they have at their disposal, not to mention has caused tons of load times, and requires downloading every new area, both of which are interruptions the user experience.
So yeah, the technology exists for Sony to eliminate load times, downloads and installs completely from Home, if they wanted. So I guess the question becomes, how much is it worth it to Sony to transition Home, which already sits in the cloud, into a purely cloud experience?