Sony caused quite a stir last week with the release of PlayStation 4 System Software 8.00 and a subtle but significant change to the way that party chat works on the current console. Moving to the PlayStation 5, Sony have changed parties to now be more permanent, tying together with a text chat to be a more social and communal space for defined groups of friends, and it’s necessarily rolled that back to the PS4 for cross-generational functionality.
However, with new moderation and reporting tools sending a worrying notice to all PS4 users, PSN errors affecting friends lists on the day the update went live, and people generally disliking change, Sony have annoyed a fair few of their users. Thankfully, they say they’re listening, they already apologised for not giving enough clarity over the incoming changes, and it sounds like they’re open to revisiting the form and the function of parties in future.
Hey folks – just wanted to let you know that we’re looking into your feedback on the recent changes to Parties on PS4.
Thanks for speaking up – we’ll keep you posted
— PlayStation (@PlayStation) October 17, 2020
While it’s extremely unlikely that the new model for Parties and group messaging will be rolled back, we could see some of the previous functionality return. In particular, the ability to create a private party without inviting any other users can be used to blanket block in-game voice chat, while a permanent parties model doesn’t gel with the need in some games like Destiny 2 to create temporary gaming groups for LFG, or to invite friends of friends for a single gaming session.
Of course, part fo the frustration that some users have felt has been about the lack of communication. In their apology and explanation of the new voice chat recording and reporting feature on PS5, Catherine Jensen, Vice President of Global Consumer Experience at Sony said, “We should have more clearly explained why this function was being rolled out,” and detailed how only a few minutes of chats would be recorded locally, and that they would be sent to Sony only if a player wishes to report inappropriate behaviour.
Sony have been generally quite secretive over the system software and functionality of the PlayStation 5, waiting until less than a month remained before the console’s release before they reveal how it looks, the new card-based interface, Activities, and more. There’s still other features that have yet to be revealed, as well, and we’re left guessing about the existence of a Quick Resume feature to hop between games without restarting them. They’re also making a number of changes to their online infrastructure through October to prepare for the PS5, such as the browser PlayStation Store hiding all content from before the PlayStation 4, the PS Messages app is being discontinued, and more.