Facebook On PS3: A Review

Everyone uses Facebook right? You have a PS3 too? Good news then, as the latest 3.10 PS3 firmware update brought social networking and FaceBook integration to the video games console. But will you ever use it and does it actually work? Well, having used it since day 1, I must say that it does indeed work and I quite like it. But, before you lambast me for liking a feature that the majority of PS3 owners don’t really care about or want in the first place (based on the comments already on TSA), let me explain why.

Social networking has become a bit of a buzz word of late for any company wanting their products to be youthful and on the bleeding edge of consumerism. Just walk into town and look at the mobile phone industry. You simply cannot avoid the words Twitter, Facebook, YouTube or even Wikipedia being pummeled into you as manufacturers desperately trying to convince us that we need these services in our lives during every waking hour. Social networking through devices other than a computer is here to stay, whether we like it or not, so it was only a matter of time before our games consoles got in on the mix.

Sony has actually always had Twitter, YouTube and Facebook available through its PS3. However, the PS3 browser, while a nice addition, has never been the quickest nor smoothest way of viewing websites. With the latest update, Sony is keen to stress that you can access the full-fat version of Facebook on your nice plasma screen. It is true that viewing Facebook through your PS3 is now vastly improved: it loads relatively quickly, fills the screen nicely and you can do all your usual Facebook stalking, erm, sorry, social networking (like viewing pictures or commenting on those ever witty status updates).

You can’t use Facebook chat, however, it was perhaps expecting too much for that to work. I also had issues with viewing my notifications and updating my status, which are both essential to enjoying the Facebook experience, but overall the system is pretty good. But would I use it instead of my netbook? No.

What is much more interesting is the automated status updates from your PS3 console. You are faced with 3 options, one of which doesn’t work yet (more on that later). The first is to tell the world (through the medium of Facebook) how good (or bad) you are at playing games by being able to update your status whenever you sync your Trophies. It’s a nice idea, you get to be a show off (completing Modern Warfare 2 on Veteran?) while your friends who don’t play games can see how much of a geek you actually are.

The good thing about this feature is it only updates when you chose (through syncing). Only got a bronze for finishing the tutorial in Cars: Race-O-Rama? No worries. Just don’t sync your trophies or turn off the update system. Only updating when you sync trophies is actually a great idea, can you imagine how annoying it will be if it updated every time I got a trophy? Seriously, it would take over Facebook.

When you buy a game from the Store, it asks you if you want to tell Facebook or not e.g. I told the world I bought MGS 1 on Thursday but decided against telling everyone I downloaded the Jak & Daxter Demo. Again, having the option reduces the chance of this feature becoming annoying, while still spreading the word about the great games available on the PSN. After purchasing Metal Gear Solid, I know of at least one person who saw my Facebook update and went and downloaded it.

It just works too. No messing around, it just works! No really, it is instantaneous. I feel that they can build upon this with the 3rd option which isn’t currently used (where the game developers chose what it updates e.g. Tim Schafer & Jack Black come up with a few witty remarks for finishing Brutal Legend, that would be very nice). And then the Holy Grail would be something similar for Twitter too (As I don’t really update my Facebook about games, normally keeping that to Twitter). It too, though, would have to give you the option of when to update your Twitter (no issues similar to the Uncharted 2 Twitter debacle please).

Facebook has become a lot more about the updates now, it does frustrate me a little when I have a few friends that update their account constantly, but it is the way Facebook is going in order to combat the threat of Twitter. These PS3 updates don’t occur often enough to annoy people (so far) and are only the first step towards a fully integrated social networking life where we will be able to let everyone know what we are doing, all of the time. So there we are, colour me impressed (although not completely bowled over) and don’t forget to join the new TSA Facebook group.