Before there was a FarmVille or Words With Friends, gaming socially meant two people in a basement playing on a split screen—perhaps on two TVs, side by side, depending how old-school they were. Since then, video games have come a long way to connect players emotionally and socially with each other. The Internet, for example, opened up the doors to massive multiplayer games that can span thousands of people. For its next-generation console, PlayStation has put social front and center in an effort to “celebritize the gamer.”
Take for example, its DualShock controllers. A hallmark of PlayStation gaming, the vibrating feedback gives gamers a more visceral experience. In its evolution, among the changes the new DualShock 4 sports is a share button next to the directional pad.
The emphasis on social is also very evident with the console’s embedded services, including Facebook, Ustream, and most notably Twitch, a gaming-focused live-streaming service. Twitch, an offshoot of Justin.tv, is expected to penetrate more than half of American households with integration in the new PlayStation 4 and Xbox One consoles launching next month, said Matthew DiPietro, Twitch’s vice president of marketing and communications.
"The demand and desire on the part of the gamer is clearly there. What we wanted to do was remove all of those technological barriers," he said. Traditionally, broadcasting live game play has been what Koller considers a "janky" experience that involved a capture card, third-party software, a PC hooked up to the game console, and a lot of know-how. By removing all that friction and building live streaming into the PlayStation 4 on a system architecture level, it’s banking on Twitch—and to a lesser degree Ustream, which has a broader focus—to engage gamers, help them discover new experiences and titles, explore commerce opportunities with downloadable content packs—and most importantly, celebrate the gamer, Koller notes.