Sony have officially rolled-out a new version of system software for the PlayStation 4. In an post by Senior Director of SIE Content Communications, Sid Shuman, the new update features a number of changes to Parental Controls, Parties & an enhanced version of Two-Factor Authentication amongst other tweaks.
We've provided a brief rundown of the changes below, for your reference:
UI changes to Party & Messages, allowing both features to use the same set of groups for messaging & voice chats (cross-compatible with PS5)
New range of default avatars from games series such as The Last of Us, Ghost of Tsushima, Journey, God of War, Uncharted and Bloodborne
The ability to mute all microphones via the quick-menu
Changes to Parental Controls, combining two settings to allow a simpler experience between parents and children
Enhanced Two-Step Authentication with support for 3rd-Party authentication apps
Removal of creation of events & access to existing events creating by other users
Removal of creation of private communities via Community app on PS4 (existing communities can still be accessed)
Update of Remote Play for mobile & PC including name change to "PS Remote Play" and support for PS5 remote access
A number of the changes appear to be in preparation for the launch of the PlayStation 5, set to release this November. It may be the case that PlayStation wants to allow new and cross-generation features to work effectively with each other, during this passing of the torch of console generations. A further update was applied to the original blog post later on, which has brought some additional concerns to players:
"Following this update, users are seeing a notification about Party Safety and that voice chats in parties may be recorded. Voice chat recording for moderation is a feature that will be available on PS5 when it launches, and will enable users to record their voice chats on PS5 and submit them for moderation review. The pop up you’re seeing on PS4 right now is to let you know that when you participate in a chat with a PS5 user (post-launch), they may submit those recordings from their PS5 console to SIE."
This has caused some confusion with players under the impression that their voice conversations are being monitored & recorded, however it appears that Sony are simply stating this is a feature that PS5 players can use, as part of their new Party Safety measures, and acts more as a warning when prompted. Whilst it's understandable that players may feel concerned that their private conversations could be monitored, we've heard many stories over the years of players being highly offensive towards others online & whilst this varies depending on the game, it looks like this feature has been implemented to hopefully strengthen Sony's ability to moderate their platform; allowing them to intervene more effectively when required to protect players, children and the vulnerable from being cyber-bullied or victims of hate speech.
Although this has already caused a stir, players who have installed the latest update have reportedly faced further issues of their own. Some players have been met with an inability to play online with friends or create parties in the usual way with the error code of "WS-44369-6" making the rounds on public forums. For those trying to access the "All Friends" section of their friends list and seeing it load forever with an error, we have been advised that using the search toolbars & accessing the 'Now Playing' section are workarounds, if you want to initiate chats or join games with friends, however there have been hit-and-miss reports for this solution.
Gamers are naturally hesitant to upgrade to the latest software version as a result & with this update being mandatory in order to play online, this has caused quite a stir amongst the community. As of writing this review, Sony have yet to comment further on these issues & the aforementioned error does not appear with any known workarounds or fixes via PlayStation's website.
It's highly likely that PlayStation are aware of the reports that have been voiced by gamers and will be monitoring the concerns closely whilst working on fixes to these problems. Hopefully, a swift and effective solution is implemented in the near future, to help resolve the issues experienced by those affected.