How Do Firmware Features Get Chosen?


Usually, we’ll get about 2 or 3 major Firmware updates a year that add some sort of new feature or functionality, whether it be AVC High Profile (H.264/MPEG-4) compatibility (FW 1.82), ability to use custom background images and icons (FW 2.00) or the ability to chat with friends (as opposed to sending messages back and forth) (FW 2.7), they all had to go through a process to determine which features will make it into a firmware update.

PlayStation: The Official Magazine interviewed Eric Lempel, Director of PlayStation Network Operations, to discuss how firmware updates become a reality and why certain features or capabilities make it in before others. Here’s some of what he had to say when asked how features are planned and released:

We go about doing that in a few different ways. We do consumer research in addition to following our roadmap. We’ve had a very long roadmap that we’ve wanted to roll out, and clearly all of them couldn’t be rolled out day one when the PS3 launched. So we’ve been implementing these features as we go along and some of them take longer than others.

Of course time and manpower always factor in because there aren’t limitless resources. And are sometimes key features that must go out in Firmware updates. For example, you saw on September 1, we released a 120GB PS3 and we did a Firmware update, and there were some enhancements in that specifically to bring on the new hardware.

They constantly read replies on Official Blog posts pertaining to Firmware updates and also look trough resources on the internet to see what features us consumers want in the firmware. They then try implementing those features and do extensive testing on them before they go public, but some problems won’t surface until after they’re released, and then a patch would come out to fix those issues (such was the case with the 3.00 launch and having to update again a few days later to 3.01).

He was also asked about Cross Game Chat, but there wasn’t any confirmation as to when/if it will become available, but he did say they are actively looking into it and that it’s complicated (which is no surprise since the PS3 OS wasn’t exactly designed for such integration, whereas the 360 is Windows-based and easier to program such features for).

Personally, I could go without it because I would be annoyed playing one game and having a friend yammer on while he’s playing another :P. I still don’t see why so many people complain about “missing” features (such as backwards compatibility and cross game chat) when PSN is free to use anyway and Sony really has no obligation to update the firmware in the first place.

In any case, I wish they’d give us a sneak peek of their Roadmap so we can see what is definitely coming, though :lol: .

Source ← Be sure to read the comments section for a good laugh as well!
Firmware Update History


Written by: Jay - Community Manager / Editor-In-Chief


  1. #1 by Ian on November 15th, 2009

    I’m not sure about you but I find the lack of backward compatibility troubling. It was a very smart business decision on Sony’s part but as a consumer I’d want to get the best console possible. Given many of us already have extensive collections, the PS3 was too expensive to buy for many at launch, also considering they already offered BC with different SKUs at one point, I’d want the most out of my machine.

    I have a 60 GB, so I truly understand what a blessing BC is given my 80+ PS. When you say you “don’t see why so many people complain about ‘missing’ features,” to include BC as one of ‘missing’ features, I think you are being slightly incredulous to a valid consumer concern for those whom it applies to. In order for something to be missing, it had to have been there for a time and then removed.

    If you just recently brought a PS3 or don’t plan on playing any PS2 games moving forward, as most late adopters are inclined to do, I can understand you not needing BC. I do see your point though, in that it doesn’t dimmish the system anymore than, say, not having the card readers. Were they convenient? Sure, but they weren’t necessary to enjoy the system. The same could be said of BC, where a PS3′s main purpose is to play PS3 games.

  2. #2 by Paranoimia on November 15th, 2009

    I’ve had a PS3 since launch (UK 60GB), but I only ever used the BC once, and that was for Tomb Raider Anniversary. I’ve since bought a Slim, and don’t miss it. Okay, I might have bought the PS2 version of the upcoming ‘Jak & Daxter: The Lost Frontier’, but I’ll get the PSP version instead.

    I traded in my PS2 and all games for it just 3 weeks after getting my PS3. As much as I had enjoyed them, I just couldn’t go back to the PS2 games after playing on the PS3.

    I rarely played PS1 games after getting my PS2, either. I don’t see why UK punters are so miffed about the lack of PS1 games on our store, either. I loved the original Wipeout, but I bought the PS1 version, and you know what? It just seems utter crap now!

    I’d rather Sony concentrated on now and the future. Yes, they’ve had a glorious past, but that’s done with now. Time to look forward.

    That said, cross-game chat is an irrelevance for me, as I wouldn’t use it anyway. I’d rather they concentrate on a decent party system, and opening up PSN stats so that we can make use of 3rd-party sites like Raptr, etc.

  3. #3 by Kenneth H on November 16th, 2009

    Frankly I’m glad the BC is gone..I’m not sure why people find this an issue and don’t get why people expect Sony to support previous systems on new systems indefinately. I’m not sure how much it cost to put the Emotion Engine in each ps3…but I the end result in taking it out is lower prices for consumers….bring it on!! I bought a 60 GB after the first price drop then i bought a used 60 GB from Gamestop after the first got stolen. Why because I wanted to be able to play the classic ps2 games…but really how much have I played ps2 games on my ps3…not much at all….not at all. Consumers have to educate themselves on the products they buy and if u wanted a BC ps3 Sony gave u that opp…and u stil u’ve that opp thru 2nd hand sales and even by being able to still buy a ps2 for the great price of $99. What Sony needed and needs to do is make the ps3 platform and ecosystem a healthy and vibrant as possible and that requires difficult business decisions to get the price down and help it gain mass market appeal. In the end mass market appeal can benefit us all….thru more and better game. BC is an oppurtunity cost that I’m willing to give up to achieve that end.


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