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The redesigned PlayStation Store is now up and running (this time for good) in the UK as well as various European and Australasian countries. While the store is certainly a visual improvement, we’re not convinced by its technical ability.
After you install the 23mb update and enter the store the old fashioned way, the initial aesthetic of the redesign is very pleasing on the eyes. All fading edges and smooth animations, the new-look PS Store is certainly a visual overhaul from the blocky design that’s been around for most of the PS3’s life cycle. The store now features a ‘What’s New’ section which gives a nice perspective on everything that’s happening in the PlayStation Store. The Store also now features a flowing menu system that moves from left to right as you go deeper in to the store, which is a neat touch. The actual game areas are relatively unchanged although again the overall aesthetic is greatly improved, while the new sound effects used have a metallic, Gran Turismo-esque, feel to them and fit perfectly with the new style.
So on the surface the PlayStation Store redesign is a great success, it looks far more mature and a lot less goofy. Take a look under the hood, however, and the new store is a bit like a Ferrari with an engine from a Volkswagen Polo. The download list, one of the biggest problems with the previous store, is pretty much unchanged. The only option for sorting is based on when you downloaded the products; there’s no alternative. So looking for one item in a huge list is still a major pain. Speaking of pains, the new search function is just that. Rather than typing in the word you have to go through a letter selection process which takes far too long. To be fair, the actual search is improved, but the interface is just too clunky and slow.
More grievances occur when actually downloading items. In order to download free products such as demos and videos you still have to pass through a purchase menu in which you are pointlessly charged a grand total of $0. It adds an unnecessary stage to what should be a simple process and new users could even be worried that they are going to be forced to pay for something. Then there’s the biggest problem with the whole store system and while it certainly isn’t exclusive to the PS Store I still feel like this was a missed opportunity to move away from it. When purchasing items, say an avatar for just 20 cents, you have to put $5 in to the wallet. There’s no option to just pay the 20 cents, you are practically forced to fork over cash you don’t want to use.
So that’s a personal gripe that I had a problem with during my time with the store and certainly the issues mentioned are likely to annoy other users. Thankfully, though, the store does run fairly well with quick loading times between segments and a lot less of the slow picture loading that was present in the previous iteration.
So overall the update and redesign is certainly an improvement, but in reality that’s not saying a whole lot. While the new store is great to look at and functional in general use, there are some serious niggles that haven’t been ironed out and stop the store, in my opinion, from being a wholly pleasant shopping environment. The new Playstation Store has been delayed for the US as it was originally supposed to be up tomorrow, but Sony will announce the new date as soon as they think it is ready.