The PlayStation Cloud Sync Experience

Sony has their PS3, PS4, and Vita consoles, all of which are selling well. The added value service that glues these devices together is the $49 a year PSN plus membership. Being a member not only gives you access to free games and significant discounts, but it also stores you game saves and syncs them with their cloud service. Sony’s sync experience, unlike iCloud, is not nearly as well supported amongst the wide swath of content in its own library. The problem starts with the PSN store. Games are categorized by the hardware they support (PS3, PS4, Vita), and whether or not they’re Cross-Buy or Cross-Play. Cross-play is supposed to allow you to pick up where you left off on another device. Cross-buy allows you to pay only once for a copy of a game you want to play on PS3/PS4/Vita. So do all Cross-Buy games not support syncing? Some of them do in fact offer support for that, so I came to the conclusion it’s just up to the individual developer. To the average consumer, this is confusing, inconsistent, and terrible.

I’ve had a PS3 and Vita for just six months. I’ve probably spent well over $500 on games during this time period. The frustrating thing is that Cross-Play doesn’t work as seamlessly as it should. It’s 2014 and iOS users are used to iCloud syncing app data near instantly between devices. You may have multiple devices, and as long as you have an app installed on all of them, your data should always be in the same state. With Cross-Play, game saves seem to sync only nightly instead of instantly. Some games provide an interface where the gamer can manually “sync” with the cloud. Other games provide no such in-game interface, meaning you have to wait for your console to sync with your account.

I have no qualms with games that are not Cross-Buy. I don’t feel entitled to receive a free copy of a game on all of my devices. It doesn’t matter if it’s an indie or triple A title. Making this stuff is hard, costs boat loads of money, and takes many resources to produce. What truly aggravates me immensely is that my game data is not made available when I switch devices. I should be able to pause a game on my Vita, walk over to my PS3 or PS4, and continue playing without much interruption. I don’t blame developers for the sub-optimal experience I have. The onus has to be on Sony to make the syncing experience as close to “magic” as possible. This needs to happen if they want to keep multiple device owners happy. Has Apple had their fair share of implementation issues with iCloud? Certainly they have — at least with the more complex Core Data API. For all the iOS games I’ve played that supported iCloud, I’ve never noticed any issue with my game state being preserved on my iPhone or iPad.