Daily Reaction: Sony Retires the XMB, Unleashes the PS4 UI


When the PS4 was announced last week, what we all predicted would happen came true – the XMB was dropped. With close-up pics of the new UI released today, the Daily Reaction duo of Seb and Dan say farewell to the old interface, and hello to the revamp.

Seb: I’m a huge fan of the XMB, so I’ll be sad to see it go. It wasn’t perfectly implemented – there were odd setting choices and needless redundancies, but, as a whole, it did its job better than most systems. Let’s take a trip down memory lane and look at some of the interface’s milestones, as we bid goodbye to a decade of XMB:

Developed by SCE, the idea behind the XrossMediaBar is beautifully simple – you can go up and down, or you can go left or right, quickly getting to options and files. It’s fast to use and pretty intuitive, but critics point out that it is a little stark.

The first usage of the XMB dates way back to December 2003, when the PS2/DVR combo, the PSX, was released in Japan. This original XMB has barely changed since, keeping its simple look. It came to the PSP next, again allowing people to get to what they wanted quickly, and generally keeping out of people’s way. Then it spread across Sony – Sony TVs, Sony Cameras, Sony Ericsson mobiles and, most importantly, the PS3. As a result, it won a Technology & Engineering Emmy Award in 2006.

As its biggest single platform, the XMB will likely be most remembered as the PS3’s UI, and it served its purpose there, perhaps growing a bit too much as Sony added more and more options and features. The PS3 is the end of the XMB era, and Sony has now moved on.

First they brought out the Vita, with its controversial touch screen UI (which thankfully now supports button input). And now they’ve shown off the PS4’s new UI (currently unnamed), clearly a complete shift away from anything like the XMB.

After such a long time using one interface, it makes sense to move on, even if you thought that the XMB was perfect. When people boot up their PS4, they want something new, something next gen and that’s what they’ll get. Well… they’ll get something that looks a bit like the latest PS Store on the PS3, but let’s hope it isn’t as god-awfully slow and that the search function was designed better.

It also reminds me of tiles, Windows 8 and the ol’ New Xbox Experience. I get it, Sony, you liked what Microsoft did there, and I understand that you want this interface to work with touch screen devices as well, but I hope that doesn’t mean that normal users lose out, just like with the travesty that is Windows 8. Sometimes an interface has to be different for different users.This image, in particular, shows a lot going on, which could end up being annoying and cluttered.

I am, however, excited to get my hands on it, to try something fresh, and see how much has changed now that this console has been built with an entirely different approach than ever before. A lot still needs to be answered, like if the UI will look terrible when the console is not connected to the internet as all the social boxes will still be there but filled with identical “Connect” images like on the 360. That’s ugly, so I hope they realized that after playing some Halo.

With the touchpad built into the DualShock 4, we may also see some cool use of the touch interface, but just don’t make it mandatory like on the Vita. I want choice.

Dan: I agree, the XMB was an elegant way to have a user navigate between games, movies, images, friends and options, but, it ultimately fell apart under its own weight. Over time, the number of things that accumulated on certain sections of the menu started to become overbearing and cumbersome. This became apparent as users started to add multiple games, movies or images to the menu’s layout, and had very limited and almost cryptic methods to handle the bulk.

The main way that the PS3 had to organize files on its browser was to use the square button to choose between a few options of date, type or another user defined category (maybe more?). But, the explanation as to how these formatting system are handled is almost lost on anyone who is not a power user, as few know that you can generate your own folders by hitting the triangle button and labeling each file a category. Then, when under a certain organizational scheme, the browser would lump all the files of the same category together, generating a folder with the intended label. Explaining it here already seems confusing, as the number of steps to do something so simple is just confusing and clunky. Other operating systems have been managing to do this for some time, so it just makes me hope that Sony focuses on long-term usage with the PS4, instead of short term elegance.

Given that Sony does develop a number of devices, the ability to have an almost universal layout between products is a great idea, as it keeps you inside a comfortable ecosystem. As non-gamers get comfortable using the same interface on a phone or tablet, the ability for them to be able to move over to a console with a similar layouts also rises. So, if Sony can actually develop a much more user-friendly method to organize content, while removing clutter and potentially bringing in new users, I welcome the new UI. The images we see, do show it running on tablet and mobile, for example.

The one thing that I would be sad to see go is ability to use themes to personalize my interface. Now, Sony has not said that they are not bringing back themes, but given the new layout it seems that modding it will require a bit more than just swapping out images for new ones. This wouldn’t mean that they could not have ones generated themselves and sold on the store, it just means that the potential for users to generate their own could be a more complex proposition.

Looking at the new layout, I really do like it, but as Sebastian has said, some of the screenshots do show a bit of clutter. If Sony can find a way to manage content from multiple sources, while keeping it all very simple and not burying things under 20 menus, then they will have achieved something great.

Seb: At the end of the day, I need to be able to get to my game with the press of a button, and get to the store or Netflix within 2 button presses. That’s the most important thing.

Dan:  Agreed, which is something that I wish they capitalized on more with the new buttons, as having a ‘share’ button just seems wasteful. Maybe if they changed that to simply start game or movie, it would be a nice way to get people moving to where they wanted to go in the first place.

Will you miss the XMB? Are you excited for something new? Will Sony make the interface PS Move-only? Share your stupid ideas below, or be even more pointless and email us at



LUNA: You will always be remembered…


Hello everyone. The following post has nothing to do with video games at all, but is a true story of a tragic event that happened to my daughters and myself in 2010. I omitted their names but their ages were 17 and 6. I originally sat down to write a short children’s story but this is the flashback that came to mind after so many years, so I finally wrote about it and have decided to share it with you all. Thank You.

LUNA: You will always be remembered…

Luna was the name my youngest daughter gave her. I had suggested it to her because it was the name of a character on her favorite Japanese anime show called “Sailor Moon” about teenage girls who were super heroes originally from the moon with no recollection of their past. Luna was a cat, a baby kitten. I saw her one night while driving with the family. We were on our way to eat something. She was in the middle of the road just curled up meowing. I swayed to the side avoiding her. I immediately looked through my rear view mirror hoping the car behind me swayed as well to avoid the small kitten. My family started to cry out in fear for the kitten and begged me to get out and save it. Another car past by just missing the cat. My heart raced as I saw a car coming down the road in front of me. Would he see it in time? Would he even care?

I stopped my car and got out, holding up traffic behind me and I waved to the car coming in front of me so he would slow down. I bent over and picked up the kitten immediately knowing I would probably have to keep it because of how my girls loved animals. Who would want it I thought to myself. The kitten was shivering and crying loudly as I held her in my arms and approached the car. I looked around to see where she came from or if there were any more by the road but I saw nothing, the road was mostly dark. My oldest daughter lowered the windows and reached out with both arms to take the kitten. She was so happy it was alive and safe and she said she would take care of it. My wife gave me that look and said we couldn’t keep the cat because we had 2 already. I sighed and said; well let’s just see what happens.

What happened was that we kept the cat. Since she was a baby we kept her inside the house. She was such a playful thing and the girls loved her so much. They slept with her and Luna would always suck on the girls thumb as though it was her mother.

A few months passed and as Luna grew up, so did her daring deeds and playfulness. She would race back and forth in the house and loved to jump on furniture. One of the things she enjoyed doing was jumping on my speakers and scale the front mesh fabric up to the top. This was not amusing to me and a few times the speakers almost fell over because they were not flat on the floor but had a support stand underneath and the speakers could lean back tilted upright on these. It was mostly to keep them off the ground.

Luna was a good cat. She behaved a lot like a child, always playful, curious and sucking on my youngest daughters thumb.

This is where the fun stuff ends and the tragedy begins. I think of it as the day I and my daughters looked death in the eyes, the day my oldest daughter held death in her arms and both of my babies lost their innocence. All three of us were connected that day in a horrible way we would never forget and we would never really speak of it afterwards but we knew when we looked at each other, we knew that that day would never be forgotten.

It was around 1:45pm one afternoon. I was getting ready to pick up my youngest at school. My oldest daughter was playing a video game in the living room and did not want to accompany me. The school was about 10 min away. Luna was outside in the laundry room. I said I would be right back and left. I remember picking up my daughter that day. She was so happy and very talkative. I approached the corner of our house on the way home I saw a car stopped in the street talking to someone by the door to the drivers side. As I got closer I realized it was my oldest daughter. She turned to see me pulling up and ran to me screaming hysterically. She had blood all over her shirt, hands and face. This is where I sort of went into a mental haze, maybe it was shock I suppose. I feared the worst, then I saw her holding Luna in her arms all bloody and motionless.

My first thought was that she got out and was hit by a car, maybe that’s why that car was stopped in front of the house? The man asked if he could help and said he had more cats if she wanted one. I just told him to leave and ignored him and focused my attention to my daughter. I pulled in the driveway and jumped out of the car, my daughter pleaded with me to save Luna and not let her die, she said that she had let her inside the house and that the cat jumped up on my speaker and held on to the mesh, this time the speaker came crashing down onto Luna. My daughter could not reach her in time and after taking the speaker off her, noticed she started to convulse and spit blood everywhere. She picked up the cat and ran outside looking for help. That’s when she had flagged down the car.

During all the excitement I had forgotten about my youngest in the car. I looked to her and I realized she was in shock as well. She was frozen and ready to burst into tears but just held it in out of fear I guess. I told everyone to calm down. My heart was racing and I heard everything so far away, almost like in the movies. My thoughts sounded like someone screaming in my ear and I was afraid, mostly for my daughters and because of what they were going trough and witnessing and I could not block it out.

Everything happened so fast. I looked at Luna, she had almost no color in her eyes, I did not know if she was alive, as my daughter pleaded to save her I thought to myself I could just not do nothing and that I had try, at least for her sake. I told her it was a long shot. I told her to put her in her favorite box with a sheet or something and I would drive to the vet. I tried to remember where a damn vet was. I could not think at all. We got in the car and drove off. I then remembered a vet close to the house about 15 min away, but it was already almost 3 pm and traffic was everywhere, the girls were crying in the car and I could not concentrate. I just kept looking at the road and at Luna lying in the box lifeless. I was their father, their hero and at this moment when they needed me the most I was useless. I could not bring back the dead. I could not take away my girl’s suffering. I did not care about myself, I just wanted it to be over and a month in the future already so I would not have to witness their suffering as I did. Was this selfish of me? I do not know but I would do anything to make them feel better. What trauma would this cause them I thought to myself. Is the little one to young for this? I remembered when my grandmother died and how it affected my oldest daughter when she was 12 yrs old. They were so close, but this was different. Luna died in front of her, in her arms.

I pulled into the vet and told my girls to stay in front. I said I would go in first and I took the box inside. I went to the front desk. As I tried to speak my throat was dry, I stuttered. I told the girl at the desk what had happened and showed her the box, She could see I was visibly shaking and she took the box with Luna and told me to wait there and ran inside to the doctor.

As I looked behind me I saw that my girls were inside as well. I had not noticed all the people in the waiting room, they were all staring at me. I sat down with my girls and held their hands. They asked if Luna was going to be alright. I told them I did not know but it looked really bad. My eldest blamed herself for letting Luna inside and I right away took that thought out of her mind. I told her that it was not her fault and she could have never known Luna was going to do that. We waited in silence for what seemed like an hour, then the nurse came back out. She had that serious sad face they put on when they bring you bad news. She looked at me and moved her head slowly left and right. She then spoke softly and said we tried but it was too late and she was pretty banged up inside. She asked if I wanted them to dispose of the body or if I wanted it back. I replied; you dispose of her please.

I turned to my daughters and explained. They knew and started to cry. I held them as we walked to the car and drove home.

There was silence in the car as we arrived home. One of my daughters said that mommy did not know and that we would have to tell her. I replied that I would tell her. As we got out of the car my oldest daughter pulled me to the side and said; daddy, don’t let my little sister in the house yet, the living room and kitchen is covered in blood because as I ran back and forth with Luna screaming her blood flew everywhere.

As I write this, I do not remember the excuse I gave my youngest daughter to stay outside. I went in and the smell of blood and death was immediate to me. I saw the drops of blood all over the white ceramic tiles in the kitchen, all over the walls also. As I walked into the living room I saw the blood trail leading to my speaker which was still on the floor. As I lifted the speaker up I saw a small pool of blood and realized that this was the spot where Luna drew her last breath. It was surreal to me, all of it and I was not quite sure but it felt like a dream at the same time. Maybe I was still in shock. I wondered if my daughters felt the same and I worried. I took cleaning products from the closet and plenty of paper towels and started wiping the blood off the walls and floor. I thought to myself, how could something like this happen? Then of course the second question was why did something like this have to happen? I should have been here I thought. I had no answer. I guess because there probably was no answer.

For many months the area where the speaker fell on Luna always had a bad stench, it just smelled bad, like blood or something. I cleaned it regularly but it did go away with time.

When my wife arrived home that day she asked for Luna, my youngest was next door with the neighbor and I was with our eldest. We just looked at her and said that there was an accident and Luna had died. My wife was shocked and in disbelief. Everything was explained to her.

It has been about two years since Luna’s death but we all remember her and we still have photos of her. Both of my daughters cry when they see them and my youngest asks where she is and if she is ok. Of course I tell her she is fine. This was the first death she witnessed for something she loved dearly. She still loves to watch Sailor Moon and I know she is reminded of Luna when she watches it, every time that cat comes on screen and her name is spoken, it is a constant reminder. I don’t know how she does it.

So this is our story. The story of how my daughter held death in her arms and looked it in the eye. As I write this, again my heart races just remembering the faces of my daughters that fateful day and how powerless I felt as they looked at me for help. You might be wondering why I would write this? Well I believe in doing so, I am preserving her memory and what she meant to us. It’s something I just felt needed to be done and I feel a sense of closure also. I’m sure many of you have experienced a loss of a pet, hopefully not as tragic as this though. Luna, we will never forget.

-James Seda

All PlayStation 4 Games Downloadable, Will be on PSN Day 1, “They’re 50GB”

The PlayStation Vita is besting the PlayStation 3 in digital downloads, mostly due to the fact that all Vita titles are made available on the PlayStation Network on release day. Sony will now be continuing that strategy with the PlayStation 4, where every title will hit the PSN day one.

This news comes from a Shuhei Yoshida interview with The Guardian, where he was asked how important it was to help support small studios:

I believe it’s very important for the platform to have a wide variety of developers making things that are unique and creative. We’re shifting our platform more and more to the digital side – PS4 will be similar to PS Vita in that every game will be available as a digital download, and some will also be available as a disc. The Witness will be a digital release and because of the flexibility of the digital distribution scheme, we can have more small games that might be free or available for a couple of dollars, or different services like free-to-play or subscription models.

Shuhei then continued by answering a question if he thinks that the drawn out task of finding a game, downloading it, then downloading updates is a thing of the past:

Absolutely. Yes. I find myself spending more time playing Vita games and I think part of the reason for that is it’s immediate. I can stop at any time without quitting and it’s instantaneous to start again. I don’t have to quit out or reboot. It’s wonderful. That’s one part of immediacy – the other is waiting for downloads. That’s ridiculous, that’s crazy! We want to get out of this madness with PlayStation 4. The games are big, they’re 50GB; download isn’t instantaneous. So we’re making purchase available from any device, so when you’re at work, you can spend a couple of moments looking at PlayStation Store and choosing a game, and straight away it starts to download at home. It may take a couple of hours but that’s okay because you’re still at work.

Also, similarly to progressive download on some movie services, you don’t have to wait for all the data to download before you start playing. Once you have the minimum amount of data downloaded you can begin the game, and while you play, the remaining data downloads. It takes some engineering input from developers so we’re talking to the community. We’re evangelising it.

So, with the PS4, we can expect day one digital on every retail game, automatic downloads when you purchase a game from any device, and that the download sizes can reach 50GB.

Do you think you’ll be going digital or retail with PS4 games? Let us know in the comments below.



nDreams’ Aurora Gets 10 Million Visits in PlayStation Home

nDREAMS Aurora

nDreams has announced that their free-to-play title set in PS Home, Aurora, has seen 10 million visits since it launched back in March 2011. The developer did not specify if this was unique visits, or included repeats (our guess).

CEO, Patrick O’Luanaigh, said:

We’re incredibly proud of Aurora and the players who have helped make this such a successful virtual space. We don’t shout about ourselves very often, but nDreams continues to grow with a clear focus – to remain one of the leading publishers in PlayStation Home whilst becoming known for exciting and unique tablet games. We’re on track to launch a number of tablet based titles this year that we hope will demonstrate our distinctive approach to free-to-play development. We’d like to publicly thank Sony Computer Entertainment (SCE) for their continuing support on PlayStation Home, a highly underrated platform with a large, smart and passionate community, and we hope to continue our strong relationship with SCE moving forwards alongside our growth into tablet gaming.

nDreams is also well known for releasing the social hub’s first alternate reality game, Xi, way back in 2009.

Have you played with Aurora? Should Home come to PS4? Let us know in the comments below.



Uncharted 3 multiplayer goes free-to-play

Sony to charge for DLC, co-op modes, lifting level cap on 2011 shooter’s online mode

Uncharted 3 multiplayer goes free-to-play

Sony is pushing further into the realm of free-to-play, as the company is letting gamers download the multiplayer portion of Naughty Dog’s 2011 action game Uncharted 3 without charge. The free-to-play Uncharted 3 should launch today in North America and tomorrow in Europe. Gamers will be able to play for free up to level 15, and pay to lift the level cap and unlock cooperative modes or split-screen functionality.

The microtransaction-laden nature of Uncharted 3’s multiplayer mode should make it well suited to a free-to-play conversion. Players are already able to spend money to customize their characters with new skins, hats, accessories, weapons, and even taunting animations. Additionally, Sony has been selling “tournament tickets” that help players earn temporary access to special items. Sony also offers a variety of map packs, and is going to continue supporting the game with more downloadable content in the future.

This is not the first time Sony has repurposed a multiplayer mode for a free-to-play endeavor. Last year, the company made the online portion of Guerrilla Games’ shooter Killzone 3 free-to-play. While that effort allowed gamers to pay for removing a level cap and additional map packs, it did not have the robust slate of microtransaction options that Uncharted 3 offers.

According to Naughty Dog, more than 3.5 million people have tried out Uncharted 3’s multiplayer mode, with a pre-free-to-play monthly active player base of approximately 500,000.