The Day We All Abandoned Sony

Adding SingStar to the PS3’s XMB was a genius move. But we’ll come back to that.

Yesterday, when the latest firmware revision rolled around, people excitedly jumped onboard and updated their PlayStation 3s, largely blissfully unaware that their XMB, the user interface at the heart of the console, would be invaded, corrupted and systematically destroyed by an icon. It was, if you believe everything you read on the internet, a disaster for Sony.

Up in arms, the PlayStation faithful claimed conspiracy, SingStar’s content manager went on a PR-ruining rampage and, incredibly, decisions were made over some gamers’ choice of next generation console. Because of this icon, you can surmise, whatever Sony were to bring out next (let’s assume for obvious reasons it’s the PlayStation 4) it wouldn’t sell, because they wouldn’t buy it.

Ludicrous, right?

Well, that depends. Whilst there were (literally) hundreds and thousands of comments on the official channels that hated the presence of the new icon – which was, in case you’ve been asleep for two days, for family friendly singing game SingStar – there was something approaching an element of reasoning behind the rather barbed (and frankly ridiculous) complaints.

A reasoning that needs just one extra factor to make it hold any sense: the icon should be deletable. If it was, all the issues with people shouting that it “shouldn’t be in the Game menu” or that it’s “on top of all my other games” would be moot – it could just be hidden, or even moved into another folder out of the way. But it can’t – it’s fixed there, and that’s what the issue is.

There’s literally no need for Sony to lock users into having the icon (and its accompanying background screen) right at the top of the other games you might have downloaded – that’s just silly. It’s not that it’s automatically part of the XMB, that in itself would be fine if it could be moved – it’s simply the fact that it’s another click down to get to your games, or it’s something you need to skip past if you’re embarrassed to have a singing game on your console.

Wait, what?

Yep, I’ve seen it. We live in a world where everything has to be instant and everything has to conform to our own ideals. Of course, everyone hates change, but if that change can’t be moulded into something more akin to our current preferences, we rebel. In the age of the internet, this means voicing our opinions everywhere, and those opinions spread.

They’re not entirely invalid, as I’ve said, but complaining about having to tap down twice to get past it should really have been levelled at the fact that Trophies are now way over to the right – getting to those in a game takes more effort than dodging SingStar.

[drop2]But, and here’s where we come back to the statement at the start: SingStar represents Sony’s push for the casual market at this twilight stage of the PS3’s life – much as it did with the PS2. It’s the casual, family market that’ll now continue the sales of the console, something that’s evidenced by the massive attention the platform holder is giving to Wonderbook.

The PS3 is no longer just about the core gamer, the priorities are shifting.

To a family, seeing that icon on the XMB won’t be a thing of disgust or disdain, it’ll be a curio, that’s clicked and explored. It’ll open up something that they might not have discovered before, and, coupled with the new option to sing via a PlayStation Eye (a device bundled with the equally casual friendly Move) they can jump in and start singing immediately. Playing. Clever, right?

And SingStar is a brilliant game, easily the most refined in the genre and boasting some pretty good tracks. My own circumstances mean it’s seldom used these days, but we, as a family and with friends, spent many a night blasting out the hits until the wee hours, and Sony are now hoping to attract a new group of people that won’t know the game exists.

That, clearly, is genius.

You might not like the icon, and chances are Sony will backtrack in a future update and let you remove it for good, but whilst it’s true that its placement could have been tweaked (at least once loaded) or even hidden, if it means more people get involved and the market for potential future games increases, surely that’s a good thing?

Me? I’m now indifferent. Although I’ve slept on it.

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125 Comments

  1. The idea of trying things like this is fine. Just let me hide it if I choose to want the pesky blighter out of sight. After all, it’ll never EVER be used by me.

    • At least not on your main account, where we can all see you, right? :P

    • I don’t get it, I don’t have the icon, its just not there. Not even hideable, just not there at all. My game area of my xmb just does not contain singstar, fullstop, and before anyone asks, yes I’ve updated and yes I’ve rebooted several times.

      • Same here, I had a look last night and couldn’t see it at all.

      • I’m wondering, had you previously downloaded singstar viewer app and put it in a folder? That’s what I’d done, so I’m thinking maybe if you already have the app you don’t get this one (or something).

      • I didn’t download the viewer Tony. I’ve never been anywhere near singstar (which is a theory i had for why i didn’t have it, which has now been disproven!).

        Its probably for the best that i continue to go nowhere near singstar tbh. I don’t think the cats would forgive me. :)

      • I don’t have it either. Never touched anything singstar, so I’m assuming its because of that. Or a region thing.

  2. I’m not fussed about having the icon on the XMB, what is a pain is that it’s above other games I’ve spent hundreds of pounds on.

    If it’s fixed it should be below the folders containing games I’ve paid Sony a lot of money for, of course making it movable into a folder would be the best solution, but if that can’t happen then definitely below folders.

    It’s just yet another SCEE-based annoyance, of which there are so many it has lead people who would be 100% nailed on to buy a PS4 to actually have to think about it

    • this is the problem, people don’t want it and want the option to move it to somewhere else (video or music) but the way Sony reacted yesterday was just typical of their customer service to the EU customers.

      Alot of people are now aware of this poor service and are getting fed up with it, it was like boiling point was reached yesterday and many started throwing their toys, and i can see why.

      I for one will not be buying a PS4 without looking at the competition this time round, because I feel a lot will change for the next Gen anyway. Sony need to sort themselves out.

      • I agree 100% with this, the EU customer has really had a vmbit of a rough deal on PS3 when it comes to user experience. No YouTube app, no mkv support, no cross game chat, awful internet browser experience, silly marketing decisions like Singstar gate just all add up to show that a lot of things asked for or not by EU customers are ignored maybe or maybe not due to the fact they ate not issues for the Japanese home market. I will think long and hard before buying a PS4.

  3. I’m not ashamed. I love Singstar. Not having to insert a disc to play is really neat. I like it’s positioning on the XMB. It isn’t the end of the world. No, really, it isn’t. Understand your target markets people. Thank you.

    • You still need to insert your discs to play the songs on them.
      And Sony has to deal with multiple target audiences, and it’s failing at this that has caused the uproar.

      • Yep… It’s like saying everyone who bought the console, possibly at £400+, and has spent hundreds or maybe thousands with them, can now take the back seat whilst we look after some johnny-come-latelys who probably wouldn’t buy more than a game a year anyway.

        There is no reason why it doesn’t appear below people’s games collections that they’ve chose to spend probably an awful lot of money on. If it does it’s still on the XMB for promotion opportunities that Sony want & it’s still convenient for the 12 people who still play it (including me & my daughter & her friends), but importantly it’s below what people have chose to spend money on.

      • Honestly, if it was at the bottom of all of the games i’d paid for i probably wouldn’t have even noticed it’s there. Heh.

        I don’t mind it being there at all, really. It’d be nice to be able to move the thing, and it’s a bit annoying having a blast of SingStar music every time i turn my console on, but i’m not going to cry a river over it.

  4. I still don’t like it, simply because it’s such a prominent icon that sticks out (I even think it’s ugly with the shadowing) and it’s for something I’ll never use. I’d rather buy Rockband or something before Singstar as I enjoy those games more.

    If it was positioned above the game disc icon at all times it would be slightly less annoying as it then wouldn’t creep in between products I own and use.

    An option to hide it would be most welcome.

  5. Just as much of a mild annoyance to me as the non-deletable apps on the iPad. Not that bothered really, I won’t click it, it won’t add much time to picking a game or whatever on the XMB, and as for the embarrassment factor, my sister already has 3 Singstar games on the shelf- I’m used to brushing it off as ‘not mine.’

    Particularly Singstar Abba.

    • Subconscious admission that colmshan plays & enjoys Singstar ABBA?? ;)

      • NEVER!

        My sister’s account is often seen to be playing it though…
        You’ll just have to take my word for it that it’s my sister playing it. :P

      • I believe you. Millions wouldn’t, but i do. :)

    • At least you can move the ipad apps though!

  6. To be honest, I think its extremely silly that there are people making a choice over their next console… based on one measly icon!

    No I don’t play singstar. I have played it briefly in the past though, and for those that have a lot of downloaded songs, the icon is quite handy. Why Sony have made the icon that is unable to be deleted is a bit baffling, but the amount of uproar this has created is ludicrous.

    Does this icon affect me in ANY way? No, of course it doesn’t. It’s an icon :/

    Is it the principal of the matter? That Sony are forcing something onto our xmb? I mean, who knows what they’ll do next!? Make playstation home permanent? :O

    I agree that the customer service responses that have been given are quite bad. I mean, if you’re in a customer service role, and you give that kind of service, that’s not exactly good!

    But at the end of the… it’s just one measly icon! There are far worse problems going on! Just ignore the damn thing. Avert your eyes if it offends you so much!!!

    • I agree with you here but I think its the fact Sonys customer service to the complaints was terrible, and it’s something they are never good at. People get fed up after much annoyance from them and decide enough is enough. Gamers are fickle.

    • “To be honest, I think its extremely silly that there are people making a choice over their next console… based on one measly icon!”

      They’re not, it’s just yet another SCEE-based annoyance, they all add up over time.

      • But some people are acting like this is the ‘straw that broke the camel’s back’. I mean, imagine being asked what made you change console? Oh, the years of bad service by Sony. But then you get pressed “but what was the turning point that made you go enough is enough?” Errr… an icon?

        I understand that people are fed up with Sony. I just don’t think this incident should be the final reason people make up their minds to buy an Xbox next gen :/

      • Whilst I agree with you Louise, it isn’t really the icon itself that people are up in arms about (ok, some are!) – It’s mainly the forced change with no way to do something with something you didn’t ask for, or in most cases, want. It is decisions like this & the poor communication following that people will base their decisions on.

    • Worth mentioning that Nina isn’t customer services. She’s content manager for the game.

      And clearly needs some media training.

      • Agreed Alex and c_star here. It’s over time all the stupid decisions are wearing down Sony customers, most of whom have been around for a while or since the ps1.

        I know Nina isn’t customer services, but when you are on the blog its nearly face to face feedback, and when you are getting odd replies to “some” fair questions, it makes you wonder what Sony are doing.

    • The icon is probably not the only reason people are up in arms. It’s another stupid descission Sony made that pisses off their core audience. Why not make the icon optional in the settings, even if it is visible in the default configuration? The same thing happened when they opted to launch the PS3 into showing the “what’s new” icon that they later made optional. It just shows that Sony does not learn from past mistakes and it gives the end user the feeling that they just don’t give a crap.

      For me personally an icon is not something that I factor into my next gen purchase. SCEE’s behaviour in general, however is.
      Will it keep me from buying a PS4? Probably not. Will I at least think twice about it and take a better look at the competition? Definitely.

  7. Nice article.

    I looked last night and it’s positioning is a bit poo, but certainly something I can put up with, given the hours of joy and entertainment my black box brings. I hope some people will try it, I’m a keen or “hardcore” gamer and have enjoyed many hours of SingStar with friends, (albeit usually after a few too many beers). To suggest I wouldn’t buy the next PlayStation due to this is a slight overreaction I feel, and people will probably calm down.

  8. I have only been back to Sony since I bought my Vita in February (I had a PS2 back in the day but then I moved to the 360). Now that I am back and seeing how they are dealing with customers, the store, pricing etc it is very clear that Sony have lost their way. Every week there is some sort of delay for games being released when they are available on other platforms and lately they seem to be messing up when updating the store as it’s not being updated on time or even that day in some cases. Blog posts have incorrect information and the communication from staff is usually limited or non existent.

    I suppose it’s a little easier for me to not be as disgruntled with Sony as I have only seen this over the last several months and it seems to affect PS3 users mostly. I can’t help thinking that the PS4 is going to suffer unless they can sort themselves out soon.

    • bang on sir, this is what I mean. Sony used to be first class, but this Gen have definitely lost their way with plenty of things.
      they need to tighten up a lot of their failures before releasing the ps4.

      • It’s frustrating because it’s so simple. They need people to communicate more openly with customers, that’s all! The blog is crap. They need a forum or to make better use of social media and hire people whose job is managing them. If people got fast, honest feedback they would be far happier.
        Then maybe the customer suggestions and complaints could be, I don’t know, passed onto to people who will listen to it and do something about it.

      • You’re right it is simple but it’s a concept that seems to be above Sony. We know there will be things that they simply can’t tell us but they are tight lipped on so much. There must be something they can say to their customers other than ‘we have no news on that’ when they ask about delayed or missing games. That brick wall comment infuriates so many people. The debacle with CS:GO will stick with a lot of people I think.

  9. Although it seems ridiculous to say this puts you off the next gen Sony console, what I think a lot of people really mean is that it is indicative of the way Sony seem to act, and THAT might well put them off.

    It is utterly incomprehensible why they would not make this optional. I love Singstar but even I would rather be able to put it in a folder in my games section. The XMB is an odd beast allowing organisation and customisation but with quite bizarre limitations. This is another example of that.

    The strange thing is that surely any idiot can see that making it optional allows the holy grail of pleasing all of the people, all of the time!

    • It’s not like they’re are a load of other optional icons. Make them all optional or none if them or they’ll just annoy a load more people who want to hide other icons like netflix which i certainly will never use

      To be honest they could fill the xmb with another 100 icons and the blog and customer service could get worse and ill still pick my next console based on games.

      It’s no good having great customer service and a nice menu system of the games aren’t there

  10. “There it is. It’s right underneath ‘Game’, above all your folders”

    No it isn’t – I don’t have it! :P

    • I don’t have it either and I’m starting to feel a bit left out of this. Where’s my damn Singstar icon, I need it so I can join in with the complaining.

      • I don’t have it either, i updated to the latest firmware as well.

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