The PSN is the suckiest bunch of suck that ever sucked (for downloading)

First, let me say thanks to Sony for providing a review code for Papo & Yo. The game is great, and it’s something I’ve been highly anticipating since E3 2011, when I first saw the game. Ok, now that I’ve said that, let me whine for a bit.

The PSN is terrible. It’s absolutely awful. I’d rather get nut punched by a kangaroo than have to sit and wait for a game to download from Sony’s slow-as-molasses network. I have a 20Mbs Internet connection that works great for watching movies, playing games, streaming media, downloading files, and even for uploading poorly edited YouTube videos. It’s awesome for everything, aside from one thing. Downloading games from the PSN Store.

The 1.3GB file for Papo & Yo took over 11 hours to download. I started it around 7:00pm, and when I went to bed at 1:30am, it was not even 2/3 of the way done yet. I got up the next morning just after 6:00am and checked the status. It had 12 minutes to go. I’m not alone on this, either. Most of my friends who have PS3s complain about the same thing.

If Sony fixes only ONE thing going into the next generation, it has to be the ability to deliver content digitally to their console. My Vita downloads faster, though it’s still a fraction of the speed of what my Xbox 360 or even Wii can do. Sony is the company that is working the hardest to push digitally delivered content on their consoles, but the experience is terrible.

Get it together Sony. Please. For the children.

Latest PS3 and 360 updates causing issues with older systems

Update: It now appears that the culprit for the freezes, lockups, and overheating is actually L.A. Noire itself. Sony’s update seems to be safe, and any consoles having issues after that update seem to be coincidental at this point. Rockstar has admitted that L.A. Noire is having issues jiving with some 360 and PS3 consoles.

Both the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 have seen system updates lately, and it seems that both updates are somewhat problematic for older versions of the consoles. In the case of the PlayStation 3, the newest update is to address the issues with the PSN security breach, and the update is required to regain access to your PSN account. The problem, however, is that people are reporting that after updating their consoles that they’re starting to have random console shutdowns or lockups. Rockstar has posted in their support FAQ the following in response to people complaining about freezes or shutdowns during L.A. Noire play sessions:

Question: My PS3 turns itself off when I am playing L.A. Noire. What can I do?

Answer: We have received some reports of PS3s overheating while playing L.A. Noire or beeping three times before shutting down/turning themselves off, mostly on older 60GB and 80GB fat models.
Primary reports seem to be that updating to firmware 3.61 will cause PlayStations to overheat. There have been various reports of this on a few different games now, all reporting their PS3s turning off or “Red Lighting” after having installed 3.61. This can range from games randomly freezing to PS3s turning off anywhere between 30 mins use to 2 hours. We have confirmed locally that multiple games (Rockstar and non-Rockstar) overheat or freeze only when 3.61 is installed.
At this time we are recommending contacting Sony directly to report the overheating issue. However, this is not the end of our support; we are continuing to test L.A. Noire on all firmware versions and hardware models to isolate the issues and see what can be done. As always, we will update this article as soon as we have updates.

So Rockstar seems to have internally found that it’s the older 60GB and 80GB models that are having issues, but it doesn’t sound entirely limited to them. Obviously overheating is a dangerous thing for your console to experience, so if you have problems after the update, don’t continue to play or else you risk damaging your console. I have a 60GB launch system and I don’t plan on updating until I know it’s 100% safe to do so.

As for the Xbox 360, the latest update seems to be equally problematic, if not worse. After updating with the newest update, many Xbox 360 consoles have been unable to read discs. At all. Microsoft has already responded and is now sending replacement consoles to anybody affected by the issue, but there’s no denying that it’s a major hassle and inconvenience to have to wait for your new console to arrive.

These updates are necessary, but it’s crazy that they can get into the wild with such crippling side effects. It seems to me that the console makers need to include a rollback option on these firmware updates, though I understand that often times the updates exist to plug security holes with the previous version. At least you’d still be able to play your console until they fixed the latest release, however.

The PSN outage is harming developers and publishers

Update: Some aspects of the PSN are back online, but not in all regions, and the PSN Store is still offline.

Imagine you owned a business where you made a nice product. Also imagine that you were incapable of selling directly to your consumers, so you partnered with a store to carry your products for you. This store promised that they’d be open 24 hours a day and that they’d be helping you promote your product to millions of ¬†potential customers each day. Like most stores, you’d have to share your space with the competition, but whenever you released a new product, it would get a featured placement in the store for a little while. Now, imagine that you were happy enough with the arrangement that you committed your products solely to that store and never partnered with anybody else to sell your product. What if the lights suddenly went out in the store with no indication of when they’d be back on?

For many developers, they’re facing some serious problems with the PSN Store being down. As the PSN limps back online, the storefront is still closed and a few developers and publishers have begun to comment on it a bit. While it’s not good practice to come out and say how many estimated losses they’re dealing with at this time, the losses do appear to be significant for some. The PixelJunk team has publicly stated that the outage is hurting them and have encouraged fans to buy some PixelJunk swag, such as t-shirts to support the team. Ubisoft has said that their losses have been noticeable but that they have the Xbox Marketplace to buffer the effects. Really though, the larger publishers still have disc-based sales and other platforms as revenue streams, it’s the smaller developers that are in danger.

For some of these developers, it has been nearly a month with no revenue stream. Nothing has been said in public as to whether or not Sony plans on subsidizing publishers and developers for lost revenue, but they have no legal obligation to do so. No employees have broken ranks to speak out as to whether or not their pay has been affected, but if the outage continues companies are going to have to start taking measures to stay afloat.

So aside from the PSN Store coming back online, what can PSN-exclusive publishers do? Unfortunately, there’s not much that can be done. It might come as a hard lesson that going exclusive these days is a risky move unless there is some subsidizing that is taking place from the hardware maker. I’m wondering if this will make publishers think twice about putting their games exclusively on a single platform. While this security breach only brought down the PSN, it could have definitely happened to other services as well.

It’s hard to say what the ultimate fallout will be for smaller developers and publishers that are locked into PSN exclusivity, but they’ve definitely taken one pretty hard on the chin in this process. Not only do they lose revenue that can’t be recovered, but their games have aged. In this industry it’s very rare for games to see a sales surge after the first month or two from launch. Sony has said that they’ll be accelerating PSN updates in the short term to make up for the outage, which means stuff that launched before the store went down are about to get buried in a deluge of new content.

If you are waiting for the new PSN Store to come back up to 100% functionality, don’t forget about the games that launched just ahead of the outage and give them a fair shot.

Starhawk for PS3 rumors circulate

Warhawk was one of the first big multiplayer games for the PS3 that had sustained success. I got into it a bit, but ultimately I was left feeling that not enough attention was given to the flight combat and I didn’t stick around for too long. With rumors swirling that Starhawk is still ¬†in the works, I just might get that flight-heavy combat sim experience that I’ve been hoping for.

About two years ago Sony registered a trademark for a game to be named “Starhawk”, but not much came of it. Many figured that the project was either canned or it was just Sony securing the name just in case they ever chose to act upon it. Well, Joystiq is now reporting that Lightbox Interactive is working on Starhawk and that we could get an official announcement as early as mid-May with obviously a follow up announcement coming at E3.

While I’d still love to see a full on addition to the X-Wing/TIE Fighter series from LucasArts, I do have faith that the ex-Incog guys over at Lightbox Interactive can put out a great sci-fi flight combat game. Going into the next few weeks, this is one rumor I’ll be keeping a close eye on.

Bulletstorm Video Review

Here’s our full review for Bulletstorm. Overall it is a great shooter with some intense action, an interesting combat system, and memorable moments throughout the campaign. The pacing is a little uneven, but the second half of the game more than compensates for the game’s slow start. Take a look at the review below.

Final Score: 4 out of 5