Sony announces plans for an version update preview system, that will give select users the opportunity to test out the upcoming 3.5 update starting early next month.
Over the last couple of console generations, firmware updates have become an important part of the video game experience. Now, Sony has announced plans for a program where users can opt-in to test out system updates ahead of their public release, starting with the 3.5 update that’s set to undergo testing in March.
All users need to be eligible is a PlayStation 4 console that’s connected to the Internet, and the master account for that system. Interested parties can sign up for access to the beta right now via this survey — although it’s worth noting that not all applicants are guaranteed to be accepted.
The beta program will apparently get into full swing early next month, when approved applicants will receive an email with instructions on how to start the download. Despite some hints about the future, Sony hasn’t shared what features are set to be included in the 3.5 update, prompting some speculation about what’s being tested.
Users that download the update as part of the beta won’t be forced to use it for the duration of the testing period. Unlike a typical version update, it will be possible to roll back to the previous system software at any time, just in case there’s an unforeseen problem with the pre-release code.
It could well be that Sony is implementing this system to test out some hotly anticipated system functionality. However, it seems more likely that this is simply a forward-facing move to get on a similar platform in terms of version updates to console rivals Microsoft.
Following on from the Insider initiative used to beta test Windows 10 ahead of its launch last year, Microsoft has offered similar functionality on the Xbox One. The Xbox Insider Preview Program has already allowed users to test major system updates ahead of their widespread release.
Before backward compatability was made available to the public, a select list of titles were available to users who signed up to the Xbox Insider Preview Program. It’s expected that features will continue to be tested like this in the future, with smaller updates being tested on a more regular basis.
It remains to be seen whether Sony will offer anything as attractive as backward compatibility from the off, or simply focus on putting the infrastructure in place for the time being. Right now, the only way to find out for sure is to sign up for the program and see what’s beamed out in early March.