Whilesome might becynical about 'old media's' attempts tooffset the decline of print publications, Official PlayStation Magazine's new on-console 'digital magazine' offers an bold and interesting hybrid solution - the best of the magazine experience combined with the high-def visuals of a TV show and the interactivity and community focus of a website.
In many ways it's a brand new way to digest game content. For example, as FirstPlay is viewable in full 1080p high definition, on your TV, viewers can watch gameplay footage exactly as it would appear if you were playing it yourself - a far cry from watching compressed footage on a website via your PC.
Above: FirstPlay's slick menu system, being shown off onOPM's TV
Furthermore, as First Play is downloaded as a complete package onto your PS3 from the PSN, you don't have the faff of transferring huge video files from your PC to consoleorthe needto fiddle around with file formats and codecs. Which is surely a bonus, right?
Above: OPMwatch the menu bar intentlyas FirstPlay downloads
As the first episode downloads in the background (the debut episode is on the UK PSN store now) Tim Clark, Editor-in-Chief of OPM UK and First Play takes us through some of the features that make First Play a unique way to consume games media (or toput it another way, why he believesit's worth 99p of your money):
It offers HD quality 'TV programming' with the presentation values of a high-end magazine
Tim: "Our aim with FirstPlay was always to create something that had the access and authority of the Official PlayStation Magazine, but to focus on HD video, interactivity, a weekly update schedule and, of course, for it to be on PS3 itself. Also, the interface is swish and sexy - if I don't mention that our art editor will start cutting himself again.
Above: The dynamic FirstPlay interface, looks greatand feels intuitive
"Obviously, we aren't mentalists throwing stones at the moon: we know the internet isn't short of gaming videos. But I genuinely think watching the footage we've captured and cut together, in HD, on your console, with no lag or loading times is a different experience. Also, there's nothing else like FirstPlay on PS3. We really want to serve that community with quality content every week."
It's being scripted by people who know their stuff
Above: Video reviews are written by the staff on OPM
"The dulcet tones of FirstPlay are provided by British comedian Lucy Porter (off Mock The Week, Have I Got News For You and winner of Celebrity Mastermind - yessir), but all the words are written by long-standing members of the editorial team. As such, they're full of red hot facts and a dash of funny."
It's a platform for you to show off your gaming prowess
Above:Userscan get their gaming skills showcased on FirstPlay
"We want your footage to feature in FirstPlay. User-generated content, whether in the form of cool LittleBigPlanet levels, laser-guided FIFA goals, mayhem you've created in Just Cause 2 and more will feature in the Network Highlights section. So if you've seen or done something cool on PS3 let us know about it by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org and your stuff could star in a future episode."
"On a simple level stuff like our interactive screenshot galleries allow you to zoom right into the images, and save them to your XMB. But you'll also find links popping up on-screen during the videos which will take you out either to web sites via the PS3 browser or to items of content on the PlayStation Store. So say for example we're reviewing some new minis or PS one Classics, you'll be able to buy one you like the look of instantly."
"The weekly schedule, aside from crushing our bodies, enables gamers to dip in and out of episodes (although if they subscribe for 90-days they get money off), and as we go forward will keep the content contemporary. It was understandably tricky getting the first episode through QA for launch, but as the weeks go by the reviews should be bang up to date."
Above: FirstPlay's HD nature allows hi-def comparisons as part of its reviews
It gives you access to special DLC
"One key thing people have asked us is whether the DLC and other extras like Beta access will only be for subscribers. The answer is no: everything goes to everyone. Obviously this kind of content is the trickiest to lock down, but we're planning some surprises for later in the year, and in the first few episodes you'll get a couple of free minis."
It allows you to view game screenshots as they should be seen - in HD
"It might sound odd, but viewing screenshots - high res, load instantly, each with an informative audio captions - has been one of the most popular parts of the betas we've run so far."
Above: FirstPlay will also feature movie trailers in full HD
It's only 99p
"My bus in the morning costs £2. A pint is what? £3.50? And a half decent Latvian escort is at least... Well, you get the point. It's a chance to see the future of PS3. For a quid. Got to at least be worth trying, right?"
FirstPlay is on sale now on the PlayStation Store - we'll try and post a walkthrough video to explain some of the features in more depth for anyone still not prepared to risk their 99p...