PlayStation system software update development – PlayStation.Blog
Last Wednesday, the PlayStation product development teams presented new system software updates for PS5, PS4 and the PS Remote Play app.
I sat down with Hideaki Nishino, SVP of Platform Experience, to check out some of the new features, including 3D audio for the built-in TV speakers and the M.2 SSD storage expansion on PS5. We also discussed updates to mobile apps like Share Screen on PS App. (Note: This feature has started rolling out gradually to Android devices. We are coordinating the iOS update rollout schedule closely with Apple and will share an update with gamers when it goes live.)
Listen to our full interview on the official PlayStation podcast here for info on how the features came together, or read on for some key snippets, edited for brevity and clarity.
PlayStation.Blog: Can you give us a little idea of ââwhat you do as the SVP of Platform Experience?
Nishino-san: At SIE, I work for hardware, system software, and network platform products and services. I don’t contribute games or studio teams, but anything other than the games side of things.
PlayStation.Blog: Congratulations on the launch of the September System Update on PS5. Are there a few features that you found particularly important?
Nishino-san: We launched a lot of features with the September update, but the one I personally like is trophy tracking. Of course, I want to get more trophies and show them off. The Trophy Tracker makes it easy for me to pin the trophies I’m looking for.
PlayStation.Blog: A lot of people have asked when are we going to get an update on 3D audio through TV speakers (besides headsets).
Nishino-san: Yeah, absolutely. 3D audio has been a key part of our vision for the PS5: to deliver a truly immersive experience not only through visuals but audio as well. When I enable 3D audio for the TV speakers, the sound is different. It’s hard to describe, but I hope everyone will try and experience it.
I feel like the sound is coming from my ears and from the front too. So, it definitely gives you a different experience. I am really proud of the team that delivered this 3D audio experience.
PlayStation.Blog: I think a great feature for a lot of people is the ability to expand PS5 storage [through M.2 SSD]â¦ What does adding a new feature of this magnitude mean to the team?
Nishino-san: Since we have a lot of PS4 users today, we’ve seen different patterns of console usage. We launched the PS5 in two forms: one comes with the disc drive and the other without. We really wanted to give the customer the choice – that was the concept.
We knew that any capacity that we put into the machine as storage, one day you will reach the capacity. We wanted to offer options. It was important for us to enable the upgrade capability for the users. We designed the M.2 SSD feature in 2018. At that time, we weren’t sure whether Gen4 SSDs were coming or not, but we thought they were.
With [lead system architect Mark Cerny], we debated and discussed. We finally decided, ‘yes, let’s do this.’ This will open the door for users to expand and improve the capabilities of the PS5. So that’s the behind-the-scenes conversation we’ve had internally, and I’m glad we can deliver it now for the holiday season.
PlayStation.Blog: What does the process of designing a system update look like? How do you put it all together?
Nishino-san: This is only the second major update for PS5. Just to go back in time here. With the PS4, I think it’s been eight years already. We have learned a lot from the PS4 and continue to learn how gamers use the system and how games behave. We know what is the most accepted and the most popular; which features are not used. So, we had a gigantic list of things before the launch of the PS5 that we wanted to do. In fact, we dreamed of doing it all.
Have I digested the whole list? I don’t think so yet. But, there are some interesting, exciting and fantastic ideas on the list. At the same time, we launched the PS5. So we get a bunch of community feedback via social media or system telemetry, as well as the media, my family, my friends. We have tons of comment lists.
Our updates are not just about [major] firmware updates. If you look closely at the PS5 system, over the network we change the UX behavior quite often. Sometimes we do personalization for a certain group of people to see how these features are used. So, it’s dynamic now.
PlayStation.Blog: Accessing the share screen through the PlayStation app is a significant upgrade. PS Remote Play is now also playable on mobile networks. Was it a conscious thing to focus on the mobile experience?
Nishino-san: PS Remote Play comes more from a utility standpoint: the best use of the PS5 and PS4 systems when you’re not in front of your TV.
During the pandemic, I work from home. I don’t have a PS5 in my office; he’s sitting in the living room. But, I have to check the PS5 UI for work and sometimes for gaming. So I do PS Remote Play from my desktop PC. And when I want to play PS5 in my backyard on a sunny day, I bring my iPad outside. Even when you’re not in front of your TV, with PS Remote Play, the experience is ubiquitous. Now, with mobile data, you can also bring it outside the home. I just want to make sure that users can enjoy their games in more ways.
On the other hand, there is the share screen. I love single player games. Because of the pandemic, I tried to play Bloodborne. It’s a tough game for me. I was talking to my friends about how I can’t get through this [particular] to organise. People said, “How hard is that, you can do it”.
So one Friday night we had five people in a group chat. I could share the screen of my PS5. People laughed when I failed or died and reappeared. [Through Share Play], I tried to hand the controller over to the guy who said he had already crossed the level easily. He died there. I said, ‘what are you doing here, you’re not the best.’ The other three people continued to laugh and chat – it was like a moment connected on a couch via Share Screen.
PlayStation.Blog: It reminds me of the days 20 years ago when couch co-op was so important. It kind of brings back some of that feeling.
Nishino-san: What’s exciting is that before the September update you had to be in front of the PS5 to see the visuals. Now, with your mobile phone, you can join these sessions from anywhere. So, recreate the ‘old days’ moments with your friends in front of the TV by playing together – that moment is coming back.
PlayStation.Blog: So what are you working on next? Can you give us the scoop?
Nishino-san: Like I said, when I think back to the list of things we need to do, there are a lot of them. There are also a lot of requests from the community. I mean Japanese way, I work diligently on these lists and there will be more in the future.
I also want to say thank you to the community. We don’t just whiteboard our desired functionality. We work for the needs of the clients. We really want to solve the problem in a delicious way. This is our main passion. We’re here for the PlayStation [fans]. I’m always amazed by the feedback, how much the community loves PlayStation. It’s really great to hear the feedback from the players, and at the same time, we also get some great feedback from the creators.
I think this firmware update is not just about us; it’s the whole community that does things. So I’m really excited to find out more about the community. And me [and my team] will diligently deliver the new features in an exciting way.
* The Android version of Share Screen on PS App is a progressive version and may take a week until the update is available on your mobile device.