The New Face of the PlayStation Network Store

by Bonzo, HSM Editor 

You may have noticed the PlayStation Network store has seen an update. Not just an update — it has been overhauled from being a direct-access web catalog to a plug-in you have to download.

There are a few reasons for this. The store sees an update weekly, and when there is a functional change to be made it requires a firmware update. These can be a bit annoying at times. The benefit of the store accessible through an application is that the application itself is updated, rather than the firmware of the PlayStation client itself.

There was a bit of a necessity to the store seeing an update, mainly a functional need, but an aesthetic update was also necessary. The old look was getting to be just that…old.

This new update gives the design a facelift, and it’s like updating from AOL to Google Chrome. While it might take some people a little while to get used to it, for some of us it’s already a major improvement. It is simplified, and all inclusive. For example: immediately the welcome page shows everything that is new. From games to movies and TV shows. But beneath the welcome page you have subcategories to simplify your search. Before there were three stores; Games, Movies, and Music. But this is simpler, because it includes everything, with specific media sub-categorized. Once you go into game, everything you want to access is here. From day one digital downloads, Plus account benefits, to the games in the store in all it’s sub-categories. There are layers in functionality and even visually. There is simulated parallax from foreground to background which gives the store a perceptual depth that is visually appealing.

What I love the most is the front page access to download history, and code redemption option. Before you had to access account information to get to these features, which you still can but it is far simpler to have them accessible from the very first page you access on the store itself. One key feature which was a long time coming is including everything relevant to a specific game in one page. For example if you access Assassin’s Creed III, you get a game page for this title. This page includes the game, with description and game screens, to the available add-ons, season pass, and even relevant PSN avatars all in one page. I absolutely hated having to dig for all this stuff before. You wanted an add-on, you went to the add-ons page, and search for the game title you wanted to find. You wanted avatars, you went to the avatars store and searched for the title you wanted. It was categorized by item type rather than title, which has its own logic but having it all accessible from the same page is far better.

Every change meets opposition from those who have been conditioned to a specific way that they could maneuver around that space with their eyes closed. It’s understandable; imagine your current living room as it is, and now imagine it were changed one day as you returned from work or school. Suddenly you have to get used to a new setup of where things are. Like most of us, I’m sure you could find your way around in the dark if you had to — you have a mental map of the area — and suddenly when there is a change it is a bit disorienting. There is still some grumbling about the changes made to the navigator in Home. Some of us love it, but some miss the old PDA.

When you have so much content, which includes not just video games but the variety of media which Sony tried to make available to its users, it becomes a monumental task to catalog all of that content in a comprehensive visual manner which won’t dissuade a user from browsing. I feel this new store redesign has achieved that very task successfully. I saw it with fresh eyes, as if I’d never seen the store before. I was used to the old way, but it took me a while, and frankly the last days of the old store with the Plus benefits restructured were very frustrating. Everything felt hidden and I spent more time to see what else was available to make sure I didn’t overlook anything. The main games available as part of the instant game collection were the clearest to spot, but the free Plus avatars, themes, and 60-minute trials felt so hidden I didn’t always find them right away.

The store is more reminiscent of an applications store in a mobile device, which is smart because the reason those stores are structured the way they are is to present a visual catalog of the content as quickly as possible to catch the eye, provide information, and most importantly sell a product. That is after all the purpose of the store, and making it difficult to find what your customer wants is counterproductive. Stacked list method is outdated in this visual age, where we want everything displayed for us. In a way it is a bit of what the current state of the times is: part laziness, part aloofness, and partially it is that we don’t want to spend two commodities while we browse — time and money. Any store which wants a lion’s share of our money cannot make it an effort for us to get it because then we spend time, and that is a non-renewable commodity for your consumer. There is no question that this new interface is a considerable improvement.

 

November 9th, 2012 by | 10 comments
BONZO is an editor and artist for HomeStation Magazine.

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10 Responses to “The New Face of the PlayStation Network Store”

  1. KrazyFace says:

    Hmm. Yeah, I get the whole “having to re-learn everything thing, but honestly, I found it much slower on the load-up of each screen, browsing the place for me is now a bit of a chore really. Also, Plus content seems to have been smattered around the place for some reason. Maybe I shouldn’t be commenting here on it at all since I was using the EU version. Shouldn’t make a difference? Believe me, the (old) US PSN Store was categorized in a much more logical way than its EU counterpart. Maybe that’s the case again, I should check.

    For the meantime though, my chip-in is this; It’s slower to load, Plus stuff is much harder to find and the checkout screens are like talking to a geriatric: “You wanna buy this?”
    “Yes please”
    “ok sure… Oh! Hello! You wanna buy something?”
    “Yes please, this item here”
    “Alright, sure no problem, the price is uhmm…”
    *stabs impatiently at X button*

    “Oh hello! You wanna buy something?”

    • BONZO says:

      I have to disagree with you on the Plus stuff, I was the most impressed with the organization of the Plus content. You click games, PLus, and then at the very bottom of the left menu all you have to do is hover over the option and the content refreshes on the right frame. That is far simpler than clicking into one option after another, I haven’t really had any issues with screens loading it has been very fast for me but that could be the internet connection. I do agree with you on the check out process, that was simpler before, particularly with demos. Some content just had a download option, with no check out process it seems everything needs a checkout process now. The downward arrow is the download button and it took me a few seconds to realize that because i was looking for the button that said download. The check out takes a few step but as far as everything is displayed I am lovin this.

      • KrazyFace says:

        That’s fair enough Bon, as you said it’s a case of just getting used to it for most of us. But I had trouble with the Plus stuff. I used to go there first every other week before looking at anything else, y’know, check the freebies. And it was easier (to me) when things were sub-categorized into stuff like avatars, themes, minis and games etc. Now it just seems to be a pot-luck-browse-fest.

        Again though, I’ve only looked at the EU store so far, I might sound like a loon here if it’s different on the US Store.

  2. You, Bonzo, got one thing right for sure. It might will take some of us me awhile to get used to it.

    Don’t like it so far. :(

    • BONZO says:

      I understand -- change sucks sometimes, the interface change is actually the reason i stopped frequenting the IGN site, that and all the pop up ads. :)

  3. Kassadee Marie says:

    First, the load time is way slow, But second and more importantly, Home items are located under Games>PS3 Add-ons>Home — exactly why? And third, there are only 21 packs shown; where are all of the other packs? I see the new Sony store as a Home fail.

    • BONZO says:

      Im just playing devil’s advocate here, but those packs and actually anything you buy in Home is an add-on. So it makes sense to be under add-ons, before it was under new arrivals, which I don’t understand why, and there was a Home icon. The packs missing are the Hellfire packs, and the Codeglue packs, those are third party developers so there may be a legal issue to resolve between them. It takes as many steps to access them now as it did before, and it’s really easier because it is listed on the left side in subcategories, and all you have to do is hover over them to see them load up in the right side. I guess i must have a really good internet connection because I haven’t experienced any lag while navigating through the store. I frankly found them so hidden before I was annoyed i missed out on a starter pack which included stuff I had already bought. I think this is easier because it is specifically labeled Home items. The first time i saw the Home icon i thought it was to download Home itself, which i thought was there in case you deleted it, i didn’t realize it had the bundle packs until i read it on the forums.

      • Kassadee Marie says:

        If you can play Devil’s advocate, I can, too. There were 48 packs for Home in the old store, so I don’t think only the third party developer packs have been removed. I could go back to my old article and count. And by the way, these 21 “Home packs” include a bunch of video downloads that aren’t Home items, at all. I always wished that the Sony store items would be offered in the Home stores and that Home would have it’s own section in the Sony store. Now that it has, I find it to be a major disappointment.

  4. ted2112 says:

    I loved the new store right off the bat. As used to the old store as I was and how much I hate them tinkering with stuff, the old store was bad!

  5. RiverCreek says:

    ~~~

    I love the new store. It is nice to be able to see multiple advertisments and pricing all at once on one page.

    ~~~

    On the other hand I am not crazy about not being able to type in the search box. I don’t like the way you have to chose the letters individually to search for a subjec and what you are looking for does not come up. Being able to type out words seemed more detailed as to what you were looking for in the old format.

    ~~~
    All in all, the new store is a great improvement.

    ~~~

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