Wednesday, November 5, 2014

SingStar PS4: A Total Downgrade

While I was browsing the Sony Entertainment Network Store yesterday, imagine my absolute thrill when I saw that SingStar was finally released for the PlayStation 4. The PlayStation 3 version is certainly the best karaoke game out there, though I wished it had more of the music I like, and I thought that this PS4 release would replace it. I was wrong. Just like the PS3 version, this game is free to download but it comes with only one demo song. If the songs you have purchased are available in the PS4's store, then you can download them for free. I was not able to find quite a number of my previously purchased songs because they are not available yet for this version and that is okay. The main problem here is that you cannot use the past SingStar discs you own. I was flabbergasted. I mean, surely, Sony should know better. We all know that they have the capability to make the PS4 read those old SingStar discs but I am certain that greed got in the way. There doesn't seem to be any indication that Sony is planning to allow these old discs to be usable with this new SingStar, which is a shame because there is a lot of potential here: the game menu and interface are both super slick and the pitch detection has been improved.

Both of the Lana Del Rey songs I previously purchased made the cut.

In addition to the lack of backwards compatibility, there are also several other weird things about this PS4 version of the game. First is the inability to stop your PlayStation Camera from recording you while playing the game. I am still unable to find the option to turn this off so if you are kind of shy, you may want to unplug that camera before you start singing. Second is the poor sound quality. Everything is very quiet and even when I slid the microphone volume to max, my voice hardly came out through my speakers. It is as if Sony doesn't want the player's own voice to overshadow the original artist's even when you chose to turn on vocal reduction. Last but not least is the lack of native streaming support for this game so if you depend on the PS4 to do your live game broadcasting, you are out of luck. This is so crazy because you know that karaoke is a spectator sport but Sony doesn't want you to broadcast your performance on the streaming sites. I know this has a lot to do with copyright issues but  you would think that Sony and the record companies should know by now that getting this game the exposure on Twitch and/or Ustream is never a detriment but an enhancement to the popularity of the game. I think this problem can easily be addressed by forcing the players to use their own camera feed instead of the music videos while having the original vocals muted when they want to use the native streaming capability. SingStar on the PlayStation 4 could have been a phenomenon but at its current form, it's not even remotely close to being good. Worst of all, it is a totally disgusting mishmash, or an example if you will, of pure greed and selfish copyright politics in the gaming industry.

"U Can't Stream This" by Sony Banhammer.

Update Note: 11/15/2014 - I booted up SingStar on the PS3 today and noticed that it had been updated into the same version for the PS4. All of the technical problems I mentioned above - including the muted player vocals - also showed up in this PS3 version. The only good thing here is of course at least the PS3 version is still capable of reading both the PS3 and PS2 SingStar discs and all of the downloaded songs didn't get axed. What have you done, Sony? It looks like Sony has completely destroyed this game.

01/19/2015 - Good news: the sound issue that plague the game on the PS3 has been fixed so the game is playable there again! Bad news: the problem still persists on the PS4 version.

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