My PS3 Renaissance

250GB PS31

I haven’t been playing a lot this year, but all it took was me ordering another HDMI cable from Monoprice.

That’s how it started – me using my PS3 about 1000% more in the past week than I have in the past year. I only had two HDMI cables – one dedicated for the 360, another for the PS3. Then I got an AppleTV and used the PS3’s cable for that. I rarely used my PS3 after that.

But then Kevin sent me Uncharted 2 and suggested I get Playstation Plus, Sony’s version of XBOX Live, but you don’t need it to play online. It’s like buying in to Playstation Store sales and getting free games for the length of your subscription. Now I own almost every Resident Evil game. Now I can play Demon’s Souls, which I hear is good. But that stuff is on hold, because I’m still working through a backlog. Point is that I never not have something to play.

I know to many PS3 owners all this stuff is old news. It’s easy to see how much Sony is courting game players compared to Microsoft. Where Microsoft nickel and dimes you (MS points, ads on the dashboard, proprietary HDD), Sony doesn’t.

For example, here’s a quick table I came up with.

Xbox Live vs PSN
Feature Xbox Live Sony PSN
Dashboard covered with ads in yearly subscription Yes No
You can upgrade storage with standard 2.5 HDD No Yes
Free online play (that I never use) No Yes
Indie Game Selection Big Bigger

Sony, I believe, has realized its mistakes with the PS3. That’s why they’re going with X86 architecture with the PS4. That’s why they’re actively courting indie game developers.

But Playstation Plus put it over the top for me. Downloading gigs and gigs of stuff has been the main reason my PS3 has been on almost constantly since subscribing.

I still have a bunch of games I want to play on my 360, but I’m now catching up on the PS3 exclusives I missed. They’re good enough to overlook my complaints about the Dual Shock. And yes, the D-Pad is better on the Dual Shock than it is on the 360.

  1. Photo by pseudogil 

Entertainment Ecosystems

My brother’s girlfriend bought him an Apple TV for Christmas. He brought it over yesterday so I could try it. It was wonderful.

Over the years he purchased a lot of TV Shows through iTunes, including The Wire and It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia. With his iTunes login credentials I was able to watch all the episodes of Sunny I haven’t seen without having to go to bittorrent. Sunny episodes aren’t available on Hulu and Netflix and for good reason…it’s a good show that’s worth more than a slice of subscription revenue.

Also during this time I did a review of monthly expenses I had in 2011. I thought of Netflix and did the math. If you’re on the default plan you’re spending roughly $200 a year on Netflix streaming and 2 DVDs at a time. I end up using Netflix passively. I only look forward to a few new releases and the shows I end up watching are ones I’ve already seen.

So I pay $200 a year to channel surf on Netflix and watch Twilight Zone episodes. Is Netflix really worth $200 a year to me? With this in mind I reduced the plan I’m on to a single disc at a time with streaming.

But then I started thinking what if I were to drop Netflix entirely and just rent what I wanted to actually see rather than use a queue and feel obligated to watch movies all the time. For sake of argument, I’d rent a single movie every weekend, and at current digital rental prices it would cost roughly $20 a month…okay—more than Netflix.

The lazy tax is in effect here.

The format war between DVD and BluRay is over. DVD’s ubiquity won. It’s now physical versus digital. Eventually digital will win, but if you want the new releases over the Internet you can either wait for Netflix to catch up or just go with the number of services that offer them digitally. If you buy videos, about every five years you’re asked to choose between the current format and the up and comer. But now, in the digital world, it’s between iTunes, Zune, Netflix, Hulu, Youtube, VUDU, the Sony store on PS3, and a bunch of others.

You end up having to choose your entertainment ecosystem.

If you have an iTunes account the choice is simple. You get your music that way anyway,1 so just rent movies from iTunes. Sony and Microsoft have similar offerings available on their consoles, and from what I can tell they’re about the same prices everywhere. It ends up being about what’s already connected to your TV and where you’ve already made your purchases.

I wouldn’t be surprised if Netflix eventually adds a la carte movie streaming and purchasing to support new releases. Netflix has an advantage because they’re hardware agnostic—it’s available on all the things you already connect to your TV. But what Netflix gets wrong is that they forego the sense of collection like many subscription services do. Netflix never feels like it’s yours. Meanwhile the Apple TV does feel like you own the content, even though it’s pretty much the same technology.

…on the other hand, some things aren’t worth spending $20 to own when they’re available the same way over Netflix.


  1. Even if you don’t get your music this way, but manage it in iTunes, it still makes sense if you use iTunes Match…despite its bugginess. 

Sony Bans Class Action Lawsuits in new PSN Terms

The relevant bit:

“Any dispute resolution proceedings, whether in arbitration or court, will be conducted only on an individual basis and not in a class or representative action or as a named or unnamed member in a class, consolidated, representative, or private attorney general action unless you and [Sony] agree to do so in writing,” according to the updated terms.

I hastily accepted them last night because I wanted to watch Breaking Bad from Netflix streaming on my PS3.