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9/10 people have their PS4s online. Other 1/10: Get with the program!

Around 90% of all American PS4 owners have taken their console online, as reported by CVG News. Bravo, one and all. It’s the other 10% that amazes me. If you have the means (and I must stress that as a proviso, as it’s clearly a privilege to have this ‘problem’), the very thought of owning a PS4 and not connecting it to the internet is madness. Like owning a Ferrari and only driving it around on your front lawn. 

I know this because I’ve been there. Oh, God, how I have been there. With the PS4, that is, not the Ferrari. But I'll get to that shortly.

First, it should be stated that not everywhere on Earth, even the US of A, has perfect broadband coverage. But somehow I doubt being physically unable to connect is the reason for most of this 10%’s unwillingness to venture online. It’s more likely people thinking they don’t need it. They don’t play online, they already have TV and a computer, so why should they connect their new console to the internet at all? They never needed to in the past, after all.

The other possibility is that this 10% also accounts for the younger PS4 gamers who have not been given internet access. That's extremely sensible, although there are parental controls that would limit access to dangerous areas. Plus, if the parents are that concerned, the PS4 should be in the living room anyway, where everyone can see what's being accessed and indeed played. And surely the parents will want to see how their Resogun scores compare to everyone else's? Admittedly, the rest of the world may not actually care, but what's the point of all the endeavor if nobody can see the result?

Both those possible camps are missing out. It isn’t until you’ve been connected for a while that you realise how lost you are when you don’t have it. To explain that Ferrari-on-the-lawn parallel, I moved house recently and am suffering from the inevitable three-week wait for someone to press the ‘GIVE JUSTIN BORDBRAND NAO’ button. In the meantime I'm using a Wi-Fi passcode to piggyback off someone else’s connection, which apparently goes through a relay in London, if my concerned verification emails are to be believed.

Suffice to say, this makeshift connection doesn’t work very well and is constantly cutting out. But even when it is connected, my PS4’s online functionality is borked. The convoluted connection is breaking the PS Store and What’s New social feed, and it’s a real eye opener as to how much that affects my PS4 experience. Everyone grows to love the What's New section on the new XMB, even though it seems surplus to requirements at first. Indeed, I suspect Tom Jones' 'What's New, Pussycat?' was written about the What's New feed. You know: 'What's New, Pussycat / Oh, woe woe woe (my internet's down)'. Although I'm sure Tom has better taste than to let the world know he's playing Knack.

To put this in context, such services only work on my personal, temporary connection if I turn on my PS4, log into Wi-Fi, then turn off the console and back on again, whereupon it connects properly and updates all the social fields. And when it does, it’s like I can breathe again. It’s strange, but I'm starting to find the feeling of being disconnected really disconcerting.

I’m not going to even try playing online until I have ‘real’ internet. But that just proves my point. Even without actually playing online, the console itself only feels like it’s working properly if it’s connected. Otherwise it feels empty. Even slightly broken. Several times over the weekend, I hit Share to show the world a particularly incredible moment in Tomb Raider: Definitive Edition (which looks sensational on PS4, by the way), often before realising I couldn’t. I also couldn’t browse the store. I couldn’t update my games or firmware. I couldn’t sync my trophies, or see the ones my friends were unlocking. I couldn’t read my messages or buy DLC. I couldn’t do very much at all.

All I could do while the connection was down was play games. Which is ironic, really. Looking back over my recent article about what would happen to gaming if someone switched off the internet, it sounds like ‘just playing games’ would be right up my street. But the truth is, a PS4 without an internet connection is a shadow of what it really is or should be and it feels impotent (cue old man Steptoe music). Sony’s done a fantastic job of integrating social feeds and online functionality--without compromising ease of use--to make the PS4 experience magnificent. Without the internet, it’s merely very good.

If you are one of the 10% who haven't taken your PS4 online, you're missing out. Absolutely. A connected PS4 is a living PS4. Don't think you’re proving a point by staying offline and using your console like it’s a PS1.

I didn’t want to have to do this (lies!) but I’m going to have to quote from Wayne’s World: "Live in the now!" And, quite literally, "Get the net!"

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14 comments

  • keenya-bradley - February 16, 2014 10:54 p.m.

    Thumbs up to this! :)
  • Eightboll812 - February 13, 2014 10:50 p.m.

    You skirt an important point I think. It highlights what Sony did that was right compared to MS. You are completely correct that PS4 being offline feels like something is missing. And they have made it harder to be offline if you actually have a live connection. If you want to encourage a shift to always online, this is the correct way to do it. Telling people your console will revert to brick mode 2.0 if you aren't connected was a horrible idea. I'm still surprised how many Americans are so devoted to a company that likes to dictate everything you do or don't do. It's supposed to be a country of "rugged individualists", and if you say, "jump" the knee jerk response is to sit down instead, not ask "how high, master?!?" MS tried to bully us into always online, Sony has tried to make it feel like you are missing something when offline. Clearly the latter is the better approach.
  • InfamousMike3 - February 12, 2014 7:27 a.m.

    Like the article Justin, I work out on drilling rigs, but I always bring my ps4 or x1. I've got crappy satellite but still manage to get it connected so I can get more functionality. I can't play multiplayer with the setup, but I can update and see my feed pretty well. I've worked a couple of hitches when I couldn't get it connected, miserable for sure :)
  • AgentSmith2518 - February 11, 2014 9:54 p.m.

    To be fair, some of us don't have an option. I'm currently deployed and couldn't connect to the internet with it if I wanted. And if I did, it'd be so slow that it'd probably take three days just to download one patch.
  • Shigeruken - February 11, 2014 9:26 p.m.

    A lot of people here in NZ still think you can't use an X1 without internet, and a very large number of people living outside of the major cities (particularly people working in agriculture) either have dialup or no internet at all.
  • universaltofu - February 11, 2014 12:25 p.m.

    People not going online with their console isn't as offensive to me as the people that haven't seen Wayne's World, I mean, what's up with that?
  • GOD - February 11, 2014 11:18 a.m.

    Justin, this is just a thinly veiled attempt to get more people online so they can make your Resogun highscore even more impressive. Being better than 99% of the 90% isn't enough for you. You want to be better than 99% of 100%.
  • GR_JustinTowell - February 11, 2014 3:18 p.m.

    Ssshhh! I don't think everyone noticed!
  • Rhymenocerous - February 11, 2014 11:15 a.m.

    Meh. It's only patches you really need internet connection for. The rest of the stuff just gets ignored by me, like "competitions" in chocolate wrappers and cans of pop. Trophies are nice though.
  • SnakeinmyBoot - February 11, 2014 10:22 a.m.

    Honestly, I couldn't care less about online console gaming anymore. The Halo era was fun until COD toppled its top spot dominance and I got tired of putting up with having to buy map packs to continue playing all but the most basic game modes while having to still pay a monthly fee. Though, I never really played any PS3 or too many 360 online multiplayer games. I rarely even signed in to PSN and gave my 360 to my sister long after I my Live subscription ended. To me over the past few years, consoles have become those overpriced boxes I have to buy if I want to play the few enticing exclusives that each one gets in its lifetime. With a console, I want to buy a frisbee, stick it in the box, and just have it work, not have to download the full game, wait for it to install, regret having ten guys notice I'm now online and bombard me with game invites to some other game, and then have to wait for a patch to fix a game breaking bug 2 weeks later. Game companies are loosing their focus by trying to compete with video rental services and things like the Apple TV and Rokku when those cost way less and anyone who wants that kind of device has one or uses their old console or PC with HDMI out. I play PC to get mods, multiplayer, unofficial patches that work better than official ones and have a system I know I can easily transfer my digital game collection to a new box in a few years and have a guaranty virtually all my games will work on the new machine. Even single player Steam games work just fine if I loose the internet connection. And I can have a DVD or video stream going on in one window while playing in another with a third on a game guide on my massive monitor. Consoles just can't compete with that. Their only merit(which they're loosing) is a box that just works. Online just isn't worth it on consoles, and it's actually hurting the experience for me. Chatting with friends is done via skype, ventrillo, and Steam's own IM system with or without the mobile app. If they could better integrate these communication services or if a few of my friends actually bought a PS4 or xbone, then I might hook mine up online when I get one. Even then using it as a social hub is not even an afterthought for me. Console makers should take out the features they adding on to the last gen, but they are hyping up that and the social aspect of their newer features too much while not focusing on interesting games. There still isn't a console exclusive game announced that I'd be willing to drop $460 or more for.
  • StrayGator - February 11, 2014 10:06 a.m.

    Too bad I can't embed the "What are you waiting for? Make the connection!" ad for Sega 32X in a comment.
  • GR_JustinTowell - February 11, 2014 10:08 a.m.

    That is a shame :)
  • StrayGator - February 11, 2014 10:12 a.m.

    dagnabbit here it is imgur.com/sSH14Uc
  • shawksta - February 11, 2014 9:13 a.m.

    Its like 1997 but replace the N64 with Next Gen and online Next Gen: Get Online or Get Out

Showing 1-14 of 14 comments

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