Simple question that title poses huh. Well the answer is not so simple. I’ll admit to dropping the ball here. I didn’t even know this feature existed until I read about it in anticipation of Dead Nation’s PS4 arrival. I was promptly told it was mentioned in the keynote way back when, which it probably was. I’m horrible at multitasking if one of the tasks is to listen. So I was probably watching the keynote and messing around on my phone or laptop, causing me to miss that part. With that said, I know about it now, so let’s discuss why it could either be a game changer or just another useless feature.
For those like myself who don’t know what this feature is, I’ll explain in simple terms. Using the Share button, you can broadcast your game play on Twitch or Ustream. Broadcast+ adds an interactive element to the proceedings. As far as I know it only works on Twitch. At select times In Dead Nation, those watching the stream can vote between two options that will directly affect your game play. The first option can send ammo drops your way to help you out. The second can send zombies your way to help you die. A nice touch is anyone who chose option B will have their chat name placed over one of the zombies. So you can blow their head off and then tell them to suck it in the chat box when you get a free moment.That is an example of Broadcast+ in a nutshell. When I found out about this concept, I had two thoughts. The first was “why isn’t this feature in every game?” The second was “imagine what you could do with this concept.” The answers to those are exactly why this question could go either way.
Let’s start with the negative. I feel like this feature isn’t in every game for the same reason things like dual PSN log ins weren’t included in every PS3 game. Sony doesn’t demand it. Sony seemingly has a very lax policy as far as using their console’s features when compared to Microsoft. Microsoft pretty much makes most of their console feature set mandatory with any game that will be on said console. Think back to the 360. Every game had Achievements. Every game enabled multiple log ins. Music streaming, party chat enabled, etc. I think there were a handful of exceptions, but only because they made sense for those particular games. You never knew WHAT you would get with the PS3 games. Some enabled music streaming, but no dual log in (MLB The Show.) Some had dual log ins, some didn’t (Black Ops 2 did for instance.) Some had trophies, some didn’t (Metal Gear Solid 4 was a great example, although they patched them in later.) They reversed their stance on Trophies eventually, but for the most part it was a crap shoot. It was always up to the developer, and most developers aren’t going to waste time and resources programming in functionality that they feel is either underutilized or unnecessary. Broadcast+ could be headed down the exact same path, and early signs aren’t promising. Only 2 games utilize the feature at the time of this post, at least in the US. The aforementioned Dead Nation, and Tomb Raider. Dynasty Warriors over in Japan does as well. Besides that fact, most people don’t even know about the feature at all. I asked my Twitter followers if they knew of it, and only 1 person remembers that info from the keynote. Real mentioned that he found out randomly when he saw it in action on Tomb Raider, but he didn’t even know how it worked. If Sony is serious about this feature, which they SHOULD BE, they need to increase consumer awareness and make it mandatory. Or at least offer incentives to those who use it.
Now the positive spin. Imagine if one way or another, Broadcast+ becomes the norm for PS4 games. Imagine the uses for it! I can think of several ways it could spice up some of our favorite games by adding an element of surprise, and a chance for onlookers to directly affect the outcome for better or worse. Imagine if the stream crowd can choose whether or not you go for it on 4th and short in Madden, at least in situations where either choice makes sense. That’s exciting! What if a lengthy run by the opposing player on NBA2K allowed us to call timeout for you or let you play through it? Imagine if we could vote to highlight hidden collectibles on your screen during an Uncharted play session. We get to pick what path you take on games with branching paths? Of course we do! What if the feature evolves over time? Imagine a random member of the chat being chose to help you hack a computer by walking you through a series of steps. Oh yeah, put that scenario on a countdown clock. If you fail, someone else gets a shot. If the chat member doesn’t even attempt? They get kicked. What if your GPS is disabled in a racing game and a chat member can fill in and navigate for you? Temporary boosts to your stats in an RPG thanks to the crowd sounds good right? I could go on forever. There are so many ways this feature could make the interactive experience on PS4 so much cooler than it already is.
Well, I just wanted to sound off on the feature for a bit. Let us know what you think about Broadcast+, negative or positive. Hit us in the comments, or find us on Facebook and Twitter. You know the name. See ya!