Sony prepares for European PS4 launch by temporarily disabling two PSN features

The U.S. and Canada had a massive launch for the PlayStation 4 almost two weeks ago, selling over 1 million units in just 24 hours. Now it's almost time for European countries to start selling Sony's new game console at midnight on Friday in their respective time zones, which is just a few hours away from now.

In preparation for what Sony claims will be "record sales" of the PS4 in Europe on Friday, along with record numbers of people signing into the PlayStation Network, the company has announced via their official blog that they will temporarily disable two features on PSN in those countries. One of those two features is the "What's new" screen, which is designed to help players "discover and engage with all of your friends’ PS4 related activity". The other is the "Content Information" screen, which lets players "see friends’ activity and information specific to the title you are looking at."

Sony states that both of these features will be switched back on a few days after Friday, "once the intensity of launch day calms down." All other PSN features, including online multiplayer services, will be available on Friday.

In related news, Eurogamer reports that Sony has a small stockpile of PS4 units that it has reserved for customers who buy faulty consoles. The U.S. launch included a few reports where customers received faulty PS4 units but Sony has said the failure numbers amounted to less than one percent of the total number of consoles sold.

Source: PlayStation Europe blog | Image via Sony

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One of those two features is the "What's new" screen, which is designed to help players "discover and engage with all of your friends' PS4 related activity". The other is the "Content Information" screen, which lets players "see friends' activity and information specific to the title you are looking at."

Ha, I don't think I've used either of those features before. I've seen the what's new feature but never found a use for it, and I don't think I know where the content information screen is...

I propose that to European countries to sell for the moment only empty PS4 boxes, with the console to be shipped at a later date, when the network infrastructure will support it properly.

Such a cheap way to cope with demand. They are clearly saying: we do not have the infrastructure or it is not scalable enough to accommodate additional load, so you gonna have to make do without X, Y and Z.

vanx said,
Such a cheap way to cope with demand. They are clearly saying: we do not have the infrastructure or it is not scalable enough to accommodate additional load, so you gonna have to make do without X, Y and Z.

I can live with that. It is not like they are charging arm and length for some unneeded subscription service like Xbone.

Auditor said,

I can live with that. It is not like they are charging arm and length for some unneeded subscription service like Xbone.

I agree, PC is definitely the best service since they don't charge for online multiplayer.

vanx said,
Such a cheap way to cope with demand. They are clearly saying: we do not have the infrastructure or it is not scalable enough to accommodate additional load, so you gonna have to make do without X, Y and Z.

No, that's BS - just about every new launch has had problems (See Blizzard - WoW, every Wow expansion, Diablo III, EA with SimCity, Ubisoft with many of their recent titles), Microsoft with Outlook.com, SkyDrive, Hotmail, Windows 7 launch (Activation), Windows 8 launch (Web Store, App store, MSDN site, activation).
Sony should be commended for at least trying to be proactive and not kidding themselves that their environment can withstand the equivalent of a world-wide denial of service attack. I only wish that Blizzard would learn from this for any of their future endeavours.

Auditor said,

I can live with that. It is not like they are charging arm and length for some unneeded subscription service like Xbone.

Just because you can live with that, it does not mean it is a good thing. And your reference to a subscription service is irrelevant.

Aergan said,

No, that's BS - just about every new launch has had problems (See Blizzard - WoW, every Wow expansion, Diablo III, EA with SimCity, Ubisoft with many of their recent titles), Microsoft with Outlook.com, SkyDrive, Hotmail, Windows 7 launch (Activation), Windows 8 launch (Web Store, App store, MSDN site, activation).
Sony should be commended for at least trying to be proactive and not kidding themselves that their environment can withstand the equivalent of a world-wide denial of service attack. I only wish that Blizzard would learn from this for any of their future endeavours.

Just because some products also have launch day problems, it does not mean it is OK for any product to have launch day problems. The more accepting people become of such problems, the more often companies will have them. Not rushing a product to the market before holiday season, having scalable architecture that can cope with demand, allowing all features to work out of the box (read: 3D Blu-ray) are all characteristics of doing the job properly and Sony clearly hasn't.

vanx said,

Just because some products also have launch day problems, it does not mean it is OK for any product to have launch day problems. The more accepting people become of such problems, the more often companies will have them. Not rushing a product to the market before holiday season, having scalable architecture that can cope with demand, allowing all features to work out of the box (read: 3D Blu-ray) are all characteristics of doing the job properly and Sony clearly hasn't.


Some?
Did we miss BF3 launch? Or any other major launch? CoD has had plenty of issues in the past. GTA was doing horrible... Any popular product has its issues. Not that it makes it okay, but lets not burn down Sony on this as they are by far not alone.
Scalable hardware, Sony been making plenty of losses already for us gamers on the Playstation, they're trying to turn it into a more positive way. No, lets all demand they invest billions more, to bad Ken left as the head of Playstation, then it would've been possible they did this. But for now, rest of the world isn't investing in it and people seem to be okay with it. Why Sony?
It was a bit rushed, but part of the 360's big market share is Sony's delay in launching the PS3. Quite understandable they didn't want to be late to the game once more..

They're making quite well thought of decisions from what I can see from them, shows they've learned from past mistakes.

vanx said,

Just because some products also have launch day problems, it does not mean it is OK for any product to have launch day problems. The more accepting people become of such problems, the more often companies will have them. Not rushing a product to the market before holiday season, having scalable architecture that can cope with demand, allowing all features to work out of the box (read: 3D Blu-ray) are all characteristics of doing the job properly and Sony clearly hasn't.

It's not the products, it's the online services that are the issue and the delivery of new or increased demand on a world wide scale.
Honestly, give a **** about the hardware - that's not even the issue here.
Even Microsoft have had Azure issues in the last two months (3 by my count) plus a botched DNS update issue which wiped their services off the Northern hemisphere - luckily a week or two before the Xbox One launch and not later.

vanx said,

Just because you can live with that, it does not mean it is a good thing. And your reference to a subscription service is irrelevant.

So what makes you qualify to decide my comment about subscription is irrelevant.

I repeat, just because lots of other companies do it, it does not make it OK in principle. The more often it happens, the more likely people will think that launching a product, providing a day one update and disabling some functionality due to inability to cope with demand is perfectly acceptable. It is not. It does not have to be this way. Doing so is not doing things properly.

Actually it is both: PS4 itself needed a day one update and now the online component has its scope of functionality temporarily reduced. In my view, it is not acceptable that Sony has to make such cutbacks. Have they not had plenty of time to prepare? Of course they had, but they chose not to. This not mean that it is acceptable and everyone should put up with it,

Imagine the uproar if Apple had a day 1 update for their products and restricted online functionality to cope with demand when new iDevice(s) launch. There are companies who do the job properly, but Sony is not one of them.

vanx said,
There are companies who do the job properly, but Sony is not one of them.

You're missing the point - They are doing something to prevent loss of total service because they have learned that they likely wont be able to cope with the initial demand on their network services. This is not something I would have ever expected Sony to do, the company that traditionally admits no failures and puts corporate pride before consumer satisfaction.

I would applaud any other company that took this approach because unless you own something like e.g. Azure or EC2 (industry level platforms) and have the ability to scale out rapidly on demand, it's going to likely result in a fail.

Don't get me wrong, some service is better than no service. But you are trying to sugar-coat it by commending Sony for deciding to reduce functionality to keep it alive for everyone. I, on the other hand, blame them for not having the infrastructure ready to cope with demand. I do not believe that they could not anticipate it, because it does not take 2 brain cells to work out that their product will be popular, especially with Black Friday sales and coming up to holiday season. Therefore, it must be either a question of Sony not willing to invest in additional infrastructure or their current one is not sufficiently scalable to adequately respond to greater load (or both). In my eyes, they deserve to be blamed if either/both of those are true. I don't have a PS4, so I don't have a dog in this fight.

vanx said,
Don't get me wrong, some service is better than no service. But you are trying to sugar-coat it by commending Sony for deciding to reduce functionality to keep it alive for everyone. I, on the other hand, blame them for not having the infrastructure ready to cope with demand. I do not believe that they could not anticipate it, because it does not take 2 brain cells to work out that their product will be popular, especially with Black Friday sales and coming up to holiday season. Therefore, it must be either a question of Sony not willing to invest in additional infrastructure or their current one is not sufficiently scalable to adequately respond to greater load (or both). In my eyes, they deserve to be blamed if either/both of those are true. I don't have a PS4, so I don't have a dog in this fight.

Evidently you see wrong with this stance, fair enough - no one can help you with that.

However, if you happen to be apart of a launch of a new product or service in the future that fails to deliver at launch because of arrogance of the publisher / manufacturer then maybe the experience will humble your opinion.

vanx said,
The fact that discussion of subscription charges is irrelevant to the scope of this conversation.

No, the subscription service discussion is relevant in this context because you are complaining about not having enough infrastructure. If Sony had to spend money to build infrastructure to cope with occasional spike in demand such as new console launch time then that expense will be passed to consumer either mandatory Subscription service or overall price increase of the console or game. There are cost benefit analysis and the marginal benefit of having all services available during the launch greatly exceeds marginal cost of building the infrastructure.

This is same as asking people to cut down electricity consumption during some occasional heat wave where electricity consumption is high due to spike in demand of Air Conditioner rather than wasting resources to develop infrastructure and have excess capacity 360 days of the year. The excess cost associated will be passed on to consumer and there won't be any additional benefit.

There is no need to have excess capacity 24/7/365. Scalable infrastructure that has been designed and implemented correctly can intelligently provide additional processing power without significant CAPEX and OPEX. Sony just didn't design it with much hindsight or doesn't care about switching off features, neither of which are good in my book.

You mean that "What's new" screen that I turn off on my PS3? Assuming it's basically the same thing on the PS4, it's nothing to be missed for a few days. It's not like they're disabling online gameplay or anything.
As for the PS4's competitor, they just had online and store downtime just a few days ago (there was an article about it). Sony wants to prevent this.

Tha Bloo Monkee said,
You mean that "What's new" screen that I turn off on my PS3? Assuming it's basically the same thing on the PS4, it's nothing to be missed for a few days. It's not like they're disabling online gameplay or anything.
As for the PS4's competitor, they just had online and store downtime just a few days ago (there was an article about it). Sony wants to prevent this.

you mean this, totally unrelated single game issue?

"The U.S. Xbox Live status page shows that the issue is confined to one game, "Call of Duty Ghosts" and one mode in that game, "Squad Assault". Players are unable to join that mode but Microsoft's message says they are working with their partner Activision "on getting you back into the game as quickly as possible." The issues began in the afternoon hours on Monday"

Tha Bloo Monkee said,
You mean that "What's new" screen that I turn off on my PS3? Assuming it's basically the same thing on the PS4, it's nothing to be missed for a few days. It's not like they're disabling online gameplay or anything.
As for the PS4's competitor, they just had online and store downtime just a few days ago (there was an article about it). Sony wants to prevent this.

Not wanting to sound all fan boyish (as I'm really not one) but MS did have a worldwide launch on a single day and had this single issue with a single game. I think it clearly shows that the cloud backed of xbox live (powered by azure and fully scalable) is much more robust than sonys.

duddit2 said,

you mean this, totally unrelated single game issue?

"The U.S. Xbox Live status page shows that the issue is confined to one game, "Call of Duty Ghosts" and one mode in that game, "Squad Assault". Players are unable to join that mode but Microsoft's message says they are working with their partner Activision "on getting you back into the game as quickly as possible." The issues began in the afternoon hours on Monday"

It was more than just that. If you read the story, you would have read that it affected the storefront as well. It was more than just one game. Nice try downplaying the issue though.

Tha Bloo Monkee said,

It was more than just that. If you read the story, you would have read that it affected the storefront as well. It was more than just one game. Nice try downplaying the issue though.

There were random reports of small issues on the store front yes, but this AFAIK was very small and unconfirmed.

torrentthief said,

why spend more money than you need to? It makes business sense to do this.


Will these consoles never be connected to PSN again?

If they will, these servers will be necessary.

It's more a case that all launch consoles will be connected within the same 12 hour period. Usually that number is higher than what will be connected at any single point in the future so what's the point investing money just for a couple of days? It's the exact same reason when a huge game gets released on Steam and their servers grind to a halt

Mike said,
It's more a case that all launch consoles will be connected within the same 12 hour period. Usually that number is higher than what will be connected at any single point in the future so what's the point investing money just for a couple of days? It's the exact same reason when a huge game gets released on Steam and their servers grind to a halt

Yes, but these consoles are very connected. They will be very cloud heavy regardless of time.

And you'll see similar hits with the release of major games too. Making those servers necessary going forward, not just for today...

Will they be? PS4 runs fine with no internet connection though and more cloud heavy then previous gen? Not counting Gaikai, how would that be? The "cloud" features and internet connectivity is quite similar to the PS3 .

This is what you get when you haven't been making money from your online services. Hopefully they'll be able to do better now that they are charging.

They don't seem to have a lot of confidence in their servers. We're only talking a few hundred thousand simultanous over any particular time frame which is pretty small by Internet standards.

all those people (connecting almost at the same time) will take up alot of server power its like loads of people trying to get into a car park at once... the car park can hold them no problem but only a few cars can get in at once ...nothing about the internet its about the server/s

This is smart. On day one here in the States, I had no trouble getting the update, but I was unable to sign in to PSN until later that weekend. Maybe this will prevent that situation.

This is great, I'll be getting mine tonight, sony shouod disable more features just to be safe, like the ability to switch it on..
Ok that was funnier in my head

Aheer.R.S. said,
This is great, I'll be getting mine tonight, sony shouod disable more features just to be safe, like the ability to switch it on..
Ok that was funnier in my head

They've already disabled that in many of the launch units...

greenwizard88 said,
Could you elaborate? I think you said something different from what you meant.

I think he meant that given Sony's current financial situation, they are limiting services rather than building them out.

BUT, I think this is more a product of rushing a product to market that wasn't ready...

Yeah Sony only has 7billion or so USD in cash reserves with a revenue of 58ish billion USD in 2012.... Yeah they're doing absolutely horrible. Especially in a division they've been making profits out of since the PS3 Slim was released.

Shadowzz said,
Yeah Sony only has 7billion or so USD in cash reserves with a revenue of 58ish billion USD in 2012.... Yeah they're doing absolutely horrible.

Pretty deceptive of you only quoting their revenues.

In 2012, they only made a profit of $458 million... and it was the first profitable year since 2008. That doesn't even begin to cover their massive losses in 2011.

Good decision, I would say should've disabled couple of more features just in case but... nevertheless should keep the system from getting hammered.