After repeated calls from its PlayStation 3 fans to upgrade its digital store, Sony has finally decided to overhaul it. A new facelift for the web-based PlayStation Store will be available on October 17 to coincide with the important start of the Christmas holiday promotional blizzard. It also shows Sony’s shifting view on the importance of digital downloads compared to the traditional distribution of games through discs.
Sony’s vice-president for Network Entertainment Europe, Gordon Thornton provided the rationale behind the move: “We wanted to create a PlayStation experience, and we wanted to address some of the issues that consumers were telling us about the old version, which were around search and navigation – they wanted us to make it easier for them to find content.”
The company wants to show to its existing gaming customers that the redesign was based on consumer feedback.
“The essence of this is driven by what consumers are telling us – it’s not just that we read articles in the press, forums, blogs and so on. We’ve been getting to know our consumers better, getting to understand their needs, likes and dislikes as far as shopping for games and other content on the web is concerned,” said Elliott Dumville, the development manager of Game Store.
One of the most visible changes to the PlayStation home page is the title that runs “What’s New”, allowing users to scroll sideways revealing an attractive start page. The new home page features cutouts of screenshots, game characters, a parallax effect when a user scrolls, and videos. This new page is also a display of full HD experience for users featuring a “hero” title for every carousel page.
With digital shoppers in mind, Sony strives to restructure the entire website. According to Dumville, the site has been designed to let shoppers know where they are, so they don’t feel lost. The end of every section gives options to users Sony thinks important to what users are looking for in the site.
Another important upgrade is the filtering system with let users search by price, game type, release date, accessories, online multiplayer games, and others.
Sony also threw away its old search mechanism by introducing a more intelligent search engine, encouraging users to look for searches one letter at a time. It also anticipates what the user is seeking, giving suggestions when available. “One of the challenges for the existing store was if you were looking for an add-on to a game, you’d have to head to multiple places,” Dumville said. For example, one can search for Duty Black Ops: Rezurrection by simply typing in letters R, E, and Z.
The digital stores for PSP and PS Vita will not be joined with the PS3 Store but users can select a menu option to go to the home page for each. This separation is also consumer-led as consumers want not to be distracted by stuff they are not interested in.
While the PlayStation Store had been undoubtedly in need of a major upgrade even before this, Sony deserves the credit for trying to gather input from consumers first before embarking on its redesign project. Dumville mentioned that the site will receive upgrades in a more or less fortnightly basis including but not limited to structural modifications if needed as well as a steady flow of fresh content like streaming trailers.