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 😆 .