My name is Angela Madronero and I’m the European PlayStation Store Manager. For a while now, we’ve seen a number of recurring questions about the PlayStation Store appearing on the blog. Many of the questions can’t be covered in the weekly PlayStation Store update; therefore, I wanted to take this opportunity to respond to some of the most frequently asked questions.
How has the European PlayStation Store grown since its launch? Are there any plans to increase the reach of the store further?
The first thing to say is that the “European” PlayStation Store is also available in non-European countries. Basically, the countries that make up the SCEE region (which historically operated the PAL TV system) all come under the banner of Europe. For the purposes of this blog I’ll continue to call it the European Store, which operates alongside our sister stores in servicing American, Japanese and Asian markets.
We have 29 stores across 25 countries, which require the use of 13 currencies and 8 languages. As you can imagine, it takes a significant amount of coordination and operational support to maintain our existing stores; however, our current list of countries is by no means final. We are definitely interested in further geographic expansion of the PlayStation Store.
The PlayStation Store is a commercial enterprise; therefore, we need to prioritise the roll-out of additional stores by reviewing a country’s PLAYSTATION 3 installed base, broadband penetration and e-commerce environment. These reviews are completed on a case-by-case basis. Ultimately, the roll-out of additional countries needs to make commercial sense.
What improvements have been made to the PlayStation Store since launch?
Those people who have been using PS Store since 2007 will have seen many changes in such a relatively short space of time. The changes are usually made in response to user comments, or to improve operational efficiency.
From a user point of view, over the course of two years we’ve:
- Re-launched the PS3 store with a significantly improved layout and design using a native PS3 technology rather than the original browser-based store. This dramatically improved the speed performance and provided a richer graphical experience. We were also able to configure the same store design to both High-definition and Standard-definition TV.
- Implemented an ‘A-Z’ search section throughout all stores.
- Rolled-out a ‘Preview Button’ for sneak peeks at content.
- Launched the PSP Store and made PSP content available via the PC (Media Go).
Our most recent updates include:
- Design refresh
- Search functionality within English language stores; roll-out across non-English language stores to follow
- Additional rotating advertising slots in order to highlight new content
Why is the navigation different across different regions?
There are times when different regions choose slightly different navigation flows or ways to reach content. Basically this choice is a reflection of the type and quantity of content on offer, as well as the differing operational requirements of each store.
Clearly with so many stores in so many different languages, there are some unique operational and consumer facing requirements for the European Store, but our basic approach is to provide navigation that allows users access to content in the quickest time and with the least number of clicks.
In order to ensure the best user experience, we conduct surveys and user tests to analyse the ways in which consumers access content. These tests are completed in many countries in order to make sure that all requirements are captured and considered before the final decisions are made.
We have been asked whether it would be possible to have a demo category that allows for direct entry to demos from the Store Top (home page). Research to date has shown that the download figures for demos in the US Store and the European Store are very similar, so it seems that most visitors to the European Store are able find demos easily in whichever store they visit. For this reason we are not planning to change the placement of demos in the store; instead we are concentrating our efforts on changing the navigation flow in some other ways.
Why is there different content on the European Store from the US and Japanese stores?
This question often gets asked. In fact, all Stores have different content depending on their local markets. We are committed to working very hard to ensure that our first-party content (the games created by our own Sony Computer Entertainment development teams) is published across all the PlayStation-Stores, simultaneously. We know how important this is to you, and I hope that you’ve seen an improvement in synchronised, worldwide releases over the past six months.
Why is there a difference in third party content?
The decision about whether and when to release a game for sale is in the hands of the individual publisher (companies like Capcom, EA, Konami, Ubisoft, etc.).
In the same way that the publisher decides when to launch the disc version of a game, they also decide if and when PlayStation Network content is made available.
There are many reasons why our third party partners may not be able to launch content in one region on a particular time/date; this may be due to technical glitches, digital rights issues, localisation requirements etc. So the issues are a little more complex than may first appear.
We know that there is a lot of frustration when content is released on one store but not another. I can confirm that from a PlayStation Store point of view, we are committed to supporting our third party partners in bringing as much content as possible to the European Store.
In addition to accepting credit cards, the US allows you to use pre-paid cards within the PlayStation-Store. Will we be getting a pre-paid cards system and, if so, when?
This is something we’re definitely looking into for European Store users. I can’t give you any further information at the moment but I can assure everyone that we will be bringing you more news in the not too distant future, so please hang in there!
When will Europe get a video and music download service?
We recently launched VidZone – a great EU first, free of charge music video streaming service. We have received very positive feedback and are thrilled with its successful launch, with over 1 million downloads in less than 8 weeks.
At Games Convention in August last year, we announced that we had a long-term plan to launch a video on demand service for some countries in the SCEE region. This is still our plan, and as soon as we have all the details locked down, one of my colleagues who is working on the programme will give you an update on when and what will be available.
I hope that answers some of your immediate questions. Keep the comments and feedback coming, and I look forward to updating you as and when I have more information to share.