NYCC 2012 Hands On: PSN Store Relaunch

by on October 15, 2012

With the PlayStation Store set for its first major overhaul in a few years, the reconstructed PS Store aims to be a fluid and accessible experience. I was fortunate enough to get a breakdown of what some of the enhancements PlayStation 3 owners should look forward to when the relaunch goes live on October 23rd.

Getting around the PS Store has always been a painfully slow experience, with inexplicable pauses and poor organization. The main page now has separate sections dedicated to games, movies and television content, while the “What’s New” landing page contains all of the latest additions – regardless of category. The store is now strictly focused on PlayStation 3 content, with all Vita and PSP games moved into their own section. Furthermore, there’s a classic games section which is divided into Playstation 1 and Playstation 2 titles.

Gone are the old and boring blue backgrounds; instead, every page now has a much more visually-focused experience, and the new UI has been designed to emphasize this. Pages come to life thanks to large crisp visuals that clearly state the price and what the content is all about. In addition to the top sellers, the Most Popular section essentially functions as a chart; the number one game gets prominently displayed on the left side while the rest of the countdown is displayed in windowed panels in the foreground. You can choose to view the chart for the week, the month, or even the year.

Navigation has also been simplified and improved. The search function has been completely overhauled; gone is the on-screen keyboard and instead it is replaced with a vertical list of letters. This allows the system to “predict” what you are looking for and to make sure you never have to type in more than three or four characters. Abbreviations are supported, the most popular content will display at the top, and your search term is embodied within the results. Which saves us time since the PSN Store currently offers more than 20,000 pieces of game-related DLCs and more than 100,000 videos, movies and TV shows. Additionally, if you’re searching for an add-on, the result will be shown as a descendant from its parent game, so you can see what other packs are available at the same time. Pages scroll from left to right similar to Xbox Live but you won’t have to worry about backtracking since the last featured page will take you to the top sellers page.

The new search provides you with so many options as you can sort by game type, price range, release date, accessories and content type. A future update will make it possible to mix and match these too. My favorite update was the product pages. The right hand side of the page is made up of the latest trailers and screenshots of the game, which stream in HD and display in full screen, along with an overview of its features. You can use shortcuts to quickly get to videos, recommendations and also add-ons for a specific title. Add-ons still have their own pages abounding with trailers, but all have a link back to the parent product so you don’t have to fumble around and waste time going back.

Overall the new PS Store looks and functions great. The store was developed using HTML5 so that the PSN Store team can enhance the app seamlessly without the need for major firmware updates. The redesigned PS Store is due to roll out starting next week. All PAL territories will get it on October 17th, while the U.S will get it later on October 23rd.

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