The Sony PlayStation 4 might very well be beating Microsoft’s Xbox One in the ongoing “resolutiongate” debate, but even the most passionate PlayStation fan had trouble defending Sony’s decision to omit MP3 and CD playback functionality from the next-gen Sony entertainment platform.
As usual, the internet became rife with speculation regarding Sony’s possible motives for dropping such easily implemented support for the most popular physical and digital music formats on the planet – with many giving the evil eye to Sony’s Music Unlimited subscription service.
It may be somewhat shocking to some then that Sony Computer Entertainment Worldwide Studios president Shuhei Yoshida claims to be genuinely surprised at the negative reactions the MP3-less PlayStation 4 has gained. During a chat with the hosts of the Giant Bomb podcast, Yoshida explained how the lash back from the seemingly benign PlayStation 4 “Ultimate FAQ”, posted on the official PlayStation Blog, was “the biggest surprise for us all internally at Sony.” Yoshida then goes on to explain how and why CD and MP3 support was dropped:
“It’s not like we actively decided ‘Let’s not do this feature so that people will subscribe to Music Unlimited.
Like we have been saying, the focus has been always on the game features. And some of the features we wanted but we couldn’t get in on day one we are very disappointed and worried about not having on day one, and that have been the higher priorities.
We didn’t really think about MP3 or DLNA,” he adds. “We always thought we’re going to do that eventually. We’ve been doing it with all the products. So it caught us off guard.”
But in a move that will surely become a trend in the next-generation of games consoles, Sony will add MP3 and CD playback, along with DLNA (Sony’s chosen media network standard) to the PlayStation 4’s firmware… eventually.
“As we speak … the teams in Japan and U.S., the system guys are discussing how and when we can put these features on PS4.”
While it’s good to know that Sony is actively listening to the feedback of soon-to-be PlayStation 4 owners, and that they’re willing to add MP3 and CD playback support via what is assumed to be a future firmware update, one can’t help but wonder why such support isn’t available from day one.
Admittedly, the global sales figures of albums and singles in physical CD form has waned over recent years, but CDs are still sold at a scale that warrants attention from console manufacturers. Furthermore, the almost unanimously agreed to reason for declining CD sales is the increased popularity of digital music vendors – many of which provide music in the MP3 format.
There’s also no technological limitation behind the absences of CD support in the PlayStation 4 as Shuhei Yoshida himself has stated that they’re looking to add the functionality post launch – and Sony certainly won’t be offering free DIY optical drive replacement kits any time soon. Microsoft’s Xbox One supports CD and MP3 playback out of the box, so why not the PlayStation 4 which otherwise boasts a similar feature set?
Can it really be believed that the guys and gals at Sony simply overlooked the support of such ubiquitous audio formats in favour of video game-related features – such as the PlayStation 4 Eye camera peripheral? Is the lack of CD and MP3 playback just one more indication that the PlayStation 4 launch may be rushed? Are both systems coming out a little too soon for that holiday sales money? Drop us a comment below and let us know your thoughts!
Sony’s PlayStation 4 releases November 15, 2013 in North America and November 29, 2013 in Europe and Australia.