Playstation 3: complete failure for casual gaming

The other day this thought popped into my head and since several people asked, I wanted to expound on my original point.

First off, let me just say I’m a casual gamer — for the past seven years I’ve usually owned one console game system and I play it about once a week for a couple hours. I might get obsessed about a new game and play everyday for a week, but on average, maybe once a week. I mostly like “organic” sports sims, games where no two plays are alike (tony hawk’s skate games are my favorite). I also bought the PS3 for the blu-ray DVD player and it works ok for that (more below), but for gaming, I wish I bought a xbox360 instead.

Here is a list of why I think the PS3 I’ve owned for almost a year sucks:

  1. While blu-ray movies look great on my 46″ 1080p Sony LCD TV, after about 30 minutes of any movie playback, the unit’s fan goes to 11 and it sounds like a hair dryer was left on in my media rack. Keep in mind I have a fully vented system with plenty of air circulation and space around the unit. I could understand if the PS3 got hot when it had to render a billion polygons per nanosecond, but does 30 minutes of Meryl Streep really tax a modern system?
  2. I’ve got it hooked up via HDMI, at 1080p, the max resolution. The menus feature teeny-tiny fonts that look about 8px tall, max. I’m only ten feet away from my almost four foot wide screen, but I can barely read text within the PS3 dashboard menus and online features. I’m not an old man complaining about tiny fonts — I stare at small fonts all day on my computer screen, but the PS3’s menus look ridiculous even on a large screen TV. Who was their target market for the tiny font choice? 12 year olds with 103-inch plasmas?
  3. Since I’ve owned it, there have been over a dozen updates to the OS. While it’s cool they keep fixing bugs and adding features, if you want to use any online aspect of the PS3, you are blocked and told to update your system. For someone that plays once a week, this means about every third time I fired up the device, I was told I had to download some 100Mb+ file and let it do its update thing for about an hour or so, rendering it unplayable.
  4. System updates and demo games are often in the 100-600Mb range in size. I’ve got a 8Mbit cable modem line at home and typically a couple hundred megabytes comes down in 10-15 minutes. The Sony network servers are really slow and I’ve had downloads take overnight to complete.
  5. Some of the online features are worthless. It has a web browser, but it renders pages vertically in a portrait-like layout (even though TVs are landscaped layout) and features those great 6px fonts. It’s basically worthless and after I tried Google on it once, I never launched the web browser again.
  6. Signing up for an online account is tedious and seems to take forever. Periodically you get kicked offline while trying to view game demos. Currently, I can’t stay logged in for more than 30 seconds before being dropped. This means downloads no longer work, since I get disconnected
  7. Every couple weeks, there are new free game demos to download. I’ve only successfully downloaded and installed three game demos in the past 10 months of owning the PS3. Downloads that fail in the night can’t be resumed and have to be restarted. It’s all very frustrating. Imagine if Microsoft’s Windows Update failed on more than half of your update attempts and took all night to successfully work the few times things went well.
  8. Games cost $50-60 each and the release schedule has been very slow since the introduction of the PS3. I’m still waiting for a GTA title and Guitar Hero to come out for the PS3. Most PS2 games play fine on it (though I didn’t own any when I got my PS3 — I sold my PS2 about two years ago), but some of the most popular don’t (like Guitar Hero and DDR, which just sort of work with some hacky attachments)
  9. The PS3 has an online store, but despite entering my credit card info into my profile twice, I’ve never successfully purchased anything. I get errors when I attempt to buy a downloadable game.
  10. The video player is ok, they just added video streaming from other computers in a recent update, but it’s nowhere near as flexible as something like the free open source XBMC I used to have.
  11. My other game system, the Wii, is still highly playable, fun, and innovative. Playing the average PS3 game still involves memorizing some button mashes. I’ll never play a button-mashing golf or tennis game on the PS3 when I can swing a Wii controller around and have much more fun.
  12. The controllers on a PS3 are wireless which is nice, but they use bluetooth. While that’s cool and forward thinking, it means that makers of alternate controllers (universal remotes, steering wheels, dance pads, etc) are way behind and the choices are non-existent. My nice Harmony universal remote can control thousands of devices but not the PS3, so I have to use a Sony DVD remote when watching movies. Driving games suffer from not having peripherals out there and things like DDR and Guitar Hero simply don’t exist for the PS3 yet, almost a year after launch.

Now that I’m almost a year into owning the PS3, I kind of wish I bought a xbox360 instead (which I would have last year if they only offered it with a HDMI output back then). I hear the xbox360’s online component works really well and brings a social multi-player component to games in a way I’ve never gotten to work on the PS3. I hear you can download games and movies without having to wait overnight, and there’s the HD-DVD option for that system (oh how I wish for a decent <$500 hybrid HD-DVD/blu-ray combo player instead).

I’ve never been much of a fan of Microsoft, but in the world of console gaming, they look a heck of a lot better than the PS3. So that my friends is why the PS3 sucks and why you should avoid it.

21 Comments

  • Excellent… I think you may have swayed me toward getting a Wii and a standalone BluRay player.

  • I hate Microsoft as much as the next guy, but XBOX 360 has been their best product. Now, I’m saying this in the middle of waiting for my second repair to come back in two years, but still… it’s just that good.
    XBOX Live is seamless and fast and reliable and fun. Adding friends, messaging, playing with them–it all works very well.
    Also, the HD-DVD add on is really nice. I have a 40-inch Sony LCD (702p) and the HD DVD player blows me away.
    Hell, I say you sell the PS3, cut your losses and buy the 360. GTA is coming, Resident Evil 5, and right now you’ve got Guitar Hero II and Bioshock.

  • A lot of people seem to feel that the PS3 was a massive failure for all types of gamers. If you haven’t ever seen it, be sure to watch “The PS3 Song” video — clever, insightful analysis of the video game industry with a light pop-rock beat…
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R98qC0fd_1w

  • In regards to point 1: I think decoding a 1080p movie does, in fact, tax a modern system. They are just barely able to do it realtime. It doesn’t surprise me at all that the fan turns on. But I do agree that it sucks.

  • Sounds like someone is a comeplete technical illiterate. The PS3 has a far better download manager than the 360, so I don’t know how it is possible for you to lose your downloads overnight.
    And sorry, but anyone who can’t use the PlayStation Store has obviously never used a computer before. Owning an Xbox 360 and PS3, I find the download speeds on the PS3 far faster. Your complaint about the fontsize is completely bogus, too.

  • I have both, but I’m not sure the 360 would necessarily be the answer for you either. Most of it’s big, great titles are geared more towards joystick jockeys than casual gamers. And the HD-DVD add-on is full of minor annoyances, and is not nearly as elegant as Sony’s bluray stuff.
    XBox Live is really well done though, especially if you have people you know to play with. Playing in open rooms with random people can be a bit of a dice roll.

  • Sounds like someone is a comeplete technical illiterate
    And it sounds like someone else is a douchebag.
    I know what I’m doing, I’ve got a fast wireless network at home using the latest equipment and I’m sorry to say but the Sony download stuff simply doesn’t work for me. I get regular, constant timeouts and downloads are totally unreliable.
    Glad to hear it works for you though.

  • The HD DVD vs Blu Ray format wars are just stupid and only serve to punish the consumer, forcing them to choose one format over the other. These companies need to get their heads out of their asses and realize that they will never get widespread adoption of a new format until one wins out over the other. LG is the only company making a dual player (the BH200 “Super Blu Player”) that plays both formats and that is going for $999 right now, still far too much to pay for such a device. There are rumors that Toshiba will come out with a dual player but since Toshiba is one of the main backers of the HD DVD format, it’s unlikely this will happen until they give up on the format war.
    As for casual gaming I’m lucky if I can find 2 hrs/week to play World of Warcraft, yet still fork over the $13/mo for the subscription. I really wish Blizzard would get their head out of their ass and offer a subscription plan for those of us who don’t need unlimited play time (for example: cap it at 10 hrs/week for $5/mo). At least then I wouldn’t feel like I’m getting ripped off just so I can occasionally play a game I like.

  • If my mac mini (1.66 core duo) can play 1080p quicktime movies without stuttering and with lots of other processes running, there would have to be something very, very wrong with the decoder they’re running on the Cell for a PS3 to not be able to glide through a blu-ray disc.

  • I should also mention that regular old non-bluray DVDs also kick the fan into overdrive after about 30 minutes.

  • I’m pretty disappointed about the PS3, the PS2 is still the console I got the most use of, and I really didn’t think the the XBox would be able to take away Sony’s marketshare. I think they really lost sight of a lot of things to allow that to happen.
    The Wii was a surprise to me, and I really, really love playing with it.

  • I am also a casual gamer and I love my Wii. I did happen to get and xbox 360 (oh yeah wedding present!) and was surprised how much fun it was to use. I don’t see anything wrong with picking up an xbox even though I love the wii more.

  • I’ll try to comment on these per the numbers above”
    1) My PS3 has the fan fire up as well, but since my Tivo is even noisier, I don’t notice it that much.
    2) On my 46″ XBR2, the XMB text is readable from my viewing distance (11-13ft), but some games (especially the EULA, surprise surprise), and Playstation store details / internet browser details have issues with text legibility.
    3) Agreed frequent updates are good (active development on the system!). You can always play the games in an offline state without updating, but it would be nice if you could auto-update (or at least have it auto-download) updates at x time of the day so all you would have to do is accept and install.
    4)My downloads for demos have gotten faster over the several months I’ve owned the unit. I use it via wireless, and use background downloads. I haven’t had any issues with network disconnects like you’re experiencing, and I downloaded the Stranglehold demo (1.37GB) in a little less than an hour from my mom-and-pop cable internet service.
    5) Web browsers on TV are usually not worth the effort. The PS3 browser is hard to read, and the Wii browser doesn’t support much of anything (even if it is Opera)
    6) Signup process for me was pretty straightforward. You only have to do it once, and you’re all set. As for the disconnects, I have no idea why you seem to disconnect all of the time. With my Linksys / Vonage wireless router I haven’t had any network disconnect issues whatsoever.
    7) All of my downloads (they have new stuff every week) worked okay. Seems like there’s some sort of local network issue going on here?
    8) The new GTA and Guitar Hero aren’t out for either the PS3 or 360, and when they do hit, it will be at the same time. Only plus for switching is GHII on 360. You would think making a USB peripheral for this stuff wouldn’t be that hard… BTW you might want to check out Rock Band which is coming out for both in a few months.
    9) I never bought anything in the store, so no comment here.
    10) If Sony can get more video codecs supported it should work great. Right now that’s the big hangup for playing media on the system. It is nice that it supports several “servers” at the same time.
    11) Wii is the casual gaming sweet spot. The “hardcore” stuff is 360 / PS3 territory. You’d end up with button mashing on both of those. Too bad the Wii didn’t put some more graphical muscle behind it, but I think it’s still doing OK ; ).
    12) They at least picked a standard so you can use your peripherals with the PC, which is nice. I think they just didn’t support the accessories market enough during development to get this stuff out to market, and until there is a PS3 game to utilize a specialized peripheral, you won’t see it. The Rock Band guitar should work, but then again now we’re a whole year past launch, which is when the 360’s stuff started to shine.
    Personally I got the PS3 because coming from the PC gaming world, I just can’t justify paying $ per year just to have a glorified rudimentary multiplayer system, when I’ve grown accustomed to having that for free for over a decade. Oh, and the Wii is a good time too, although I long for better network / multiplayer interaction other than Miis and 3 multiplayer games.

  • i will most likely get a ps3 – some day. not any time soon. personally, not owning a hi-def, widescreen tv (i live in a rural area and have to get satellite and the hi-def signal is on a separate satellite that isn’t in our line of sight) i don’t even think i’m being marketed to (i feel the same way about the x-box 360 most of the time). when square-enix releases FFXIII is probably the time I’ll buy the ps3, just as I bought my ps1 when FFVII was released for it. that seems to be at least 2 years off and i don’t feel like i’m missing a thing in the gaming world.
    as far as font legibility goes, you’ll find the same thing on some x-box 360 games go. prepare to break out your magnifying lens if you play dead rising or blue dragon.
    i’m pretty sure that the Wiimote is a bluetooth device as well.

  • Matt, just sell the PS3 and buy either the 360 Elite or the new HDMI Premium/Pro. Sure it’s a gamble and you might very likely encounter hardware trouble at some point, it’s still a fantastic system.

  • Haha, if you think the ps3 is noisy.. you are in for a treat with the 360. Actually my Sony TV and digital cable box have a Fan that is about as loud as the ps3, so not sure what to tell you there. As for the text.. its a bit small on the store for sure, but when you web browse.. you do know that R3 is for zooming in on the page right? and you can open multiple pages and switch back with R2 an L2. I havent have the trouble you are having with the downloads of either the updates or the demos/games. I usually get home from work around 8 and have the update downloaded and installed by 8:30, and thats wireless with comcast. I did setup my connection manually, with a static IP on my router, that might have helped but i dunno. The meida server is a great little function , but when i bought the ps3 i couldnt wait. I bought a 500 GB external HDD, have dvd decrypter and ps3 video 9 and have coverted my dvd library to mp4’s. I have over 70 movies and counting at the touch of a button. The ps3 is capable of so much, you just have to take the time to find out. Good luck with it, I just konw that I don’t want to be sending in my console every few months out for repair, Quality is a good thing

  • Wow, makes me very glad I went with the 360. I’d be going crazy if I was still waiting for Guitar Hero (one of the best casual games ever). I second what riffola suggests about simply ditching the PS3. You’ll dig the Live service too.

  • Before you ditch the PS3, pick up a copy (if you can stay online long enough!) of Super Stardust HD from the PS Online Store. It’s my favorite casual game, a 3d spherical version of asteroids with three types of weapons for the different types of space debris, and is the most fun I’ve had in a casual game in years.

  • have you tried using a wired connection to the network to see if your connection issues still exist?
    What about interference from other devices on the 2.4 ghz band?
    What model is your wireless router? Earlier Linksys routers had disconnect problems.

  • I switched to a wired connection linked to a wireless bridge, and I’m still getting only about 100kb/sec throughput on downloads from Sony. My computer downloading a large file from sony.com gets about 750kb/sec, so it’s still slow (I’m using an Aiport Extreme 802.11n router).

  • Given you start with the statement “this is why the PS3 sucks” I’m not expecting much in the way of balance, but I’ll see whether we can inject some semblance here and as a PS3 owner who doesn’t think it sucks, perhaps I can:
    1 – fan noise, even if you don’t directly compare to the 360’s space shuttle on take-off noise level my PS3 doesn’t detract from either gaming or watching movies, it’s barely any louder than my DVR.
    2 – perhaps staring at small fonts on your computer screen is at fault as I don’t have perfect vision or a problem with reading XMB menus from 10-12ft from a 46″ 1080p LCD.
    3 – fewer updates would be preferred, but you’ve got to balance progress vs inconvenience. Background downloading would be better though.
    4 – no issue with download speeds from the UK on a lowly 2mb line.
    5 – if you need to zoom the browser, click the right stick, then use R2 to zoom in, perfect.
    6 – again, no issues from the UK, have never been disconnected.
    7 – No issues with downloads and I’ve downloaded most of the free demos, Warhawk, tons of videos etc.
    8 – the price hike over the prev generation affecting 360 and PS3 is unfortunate, but presumably unavoidable given greater development times and costs.
    9 – perhaps you need to check with Sony or user forums to fathom why you can’t download and buy when millions can.
    10 – the constant stream of free updates will help enhance video playback over time, and if you install Linux the options are even wider.
    11 – the Wii is a games machine for casual gamers, and it’s life-span is limited (how many times can anyone over 10 pretend to hit a baseball and still call it fun?).
    12 – You’re right, Bluetooth is a great addition, my wireless keyboard is great for surfing the web but a driving wheel would be nice, perhaps when GT5 comes to town the steering wheel will follow. You’ll also have the EyeToy to play with soon, which will be fantastic for casual gaming. Other casual titles utilising the motion sensing controller are also on the way.
    PS3 will be launching Home, a free service for networking and gaming and the on-line service is ever expanding. HD-DVD is only an option on the 360 (one which puts the price of the system much nearer the PS3 for something clearly built on the cheap) for a format doomed by a lack of support.
    You’ve managed to slate a system you can’t operate properly because you can’t download paid for games, many of which are aimed squarely at the casual user, perhaps sorting out this issue should be a priority otherwise you’re the one missing out, and when Home, Little Big Planet and LocoRoco arrive you’ll be missing out on a whole lot more innovation, fun and casual gaming pleasure.

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