Many Issues with the Iffy PlayStation 3 Operating System

While I work on my next article, and it is in the works, how about this little almost ten-years-out-of-date, but new to me, list of complaints? I got a PS3 for the first time a few months ago, and while the system has lots of good and interesting games, the system OS has all kinds of problems compared to its contemporary the Xbox 360, and in some ways the Nintendo Wii as well. I’m making this list because it’s kind of crazy that Sony never fixed some of these things, after so long! So, let’s get on to the list.

First, I need to say that the system I got is the final model of the PS3, the top-loading SuperSlim system. It has a 12GB internal flash memory storage space and does not require a hard drive, unlike previous PS3s, but doesn’t have the memory card (Memory Stick Pro Duo, etc.) slots that the first-model PS3 has. However, this space is far less useful than it may sound due to system limitations.

Please remember, the PlayStation 3 released a full year after the Xbox 360. Both OSes have been worked on a lot since their original releases as well, so there is no excuse for the system having all of these problems, particularly compared to a system which predates it.

Last, I’m sure that I’m not covering everything here I could about PS3 OS issues; these are just the things I’ve particularly noticed, since getting the system a few months ago. If anyone has anything more to add to this list, please share them!

First, a few general system interface issues.

  • The controls require you to use the gamepad only in menus, there is no PS Move pointer support. The Move does work in menus, but only as a gyroscope, letting you move the usual d-pad/analog stick selection around with tilting instead. The Wii is the opposite of this, as it has pointer-only controls in menus, and I wish it let you use the d-pad or analog stick as well. Both systems should let you use either one, not only one or the other!
  • It’s kind of slow, and doing anything takes longer than it does on the 360 — loading…
  • There is no simple list of how much space games/apps take up, unlike the 360 or newer systems like the 3DS. Instead you need to go into each games’ info page separately to view how much space that game is taking up. This means that if you do start running out of space, figuring out what’s big will be tedious and time-consuming.

Problems with the PlayStation Store

  • The store is not integrated into the OS but instead is a completely separate application. Nintendo systems work this way as well, and it’s not bad, but the Xbox 360 has the store fully integrated into the OS, and that’s the better, faster, easier to use design compared to this. The Sony store also takes far too long to load, and worse…
  • You cannot use the PlayStation button on the controller to return to the OS while in the store. In any game, pressing the PS button returns you to the system menu, where you can close that game, open something else, open some system settings, view the list of current downloads, or what have you… or not do any of those things, and just use it as a pause system and return to the game with another press of that button. But in the store, you cannot return to the OS; instead, pressing the PS button merely gives you the option to quit the store. This is a problem because…
  • You cannot view the download list while in the store, there is no option to view your list of downloads there. The current-downloads list is only available in the system menu, and since you can’t view this in the store, you need to quite the store to see it. So, if you want to see what’s downloading and what has finished, how many things are still in the list, how close you are to maxing out the number of things you are allowed to have in that list, or such, too bad, you can’t. You need to quit the store to view what you’re downloading, then wait for the store to load again to go back in if you needed to… ugh.
  • Sometimes, when you’re using the store, it will randomly crash and quit you out of it for no reason. As the store interface is slow to use and buggy, it can take a while to get back to where you were; see below.
  • The store OS works terribly and, when you go to download something and then back out back to the search list you were just on, will almost never actually leave the title you just downloaded selected. Instead, something far above it will be selected…. usually the very top game in the list. Considering that everything is very slow to navigate and to mention only one example the PS3 demos list is over 500 games long, this is a huge problem! Scrolling all the way down that list every time you want to download one more demo is really tedious, and as much as I want to try more of the PS3’s demos, I eventually gave up on this, at least on the system itself. Again there isn’t any kind of fast-move either, unlike the 360 which lets you scroll by pages with the shoulder buttons. If you want to download a bunch of stuff the PS3 store is barely usable.

Game Download, Install, and Deletion Issues

  • The system defaults to downloading as a full-screen application, instead of in the background. You need to hit a button to download something in the background, and this will take longer because it needs to prepare for the background download first, a process which takes longer the larger the file is. The X360 always downloads in the background, which is great. The Wii does not let you do anything else during downloads, but as downloadable Wii games max out at 40MB, this isn’t much of a problem. Newer Nintendo systems such as the 3DS do have background-download support, without the PS3’s delays. This is a relatively minor issue, but it is worth mentioning.
  • After downloading a game it does not auto-install, unlike pretty much every other console I have ever used. Instead, it downloads an installer that you will then need to run yourself to install the game. This means that you need twice the amount of space a game takes up in order to install it, since you must have both the installer and game there at the same time while it’s installing. After the install finishes you get the option to delete the installer, if it’s a PS3 game that is, but still this a weird and unnecessary step for a console. Yes, things like PS1 Classics that work on the PS3, PSP, and Vita, or PSP games you download onto your PS3 for transfer to a PSP or Vita, do need those installers so you can move those games over to the other systems somehow, and it’s handy that they keep those by default, but nothing else should have an installer here, it should all be automatic.
  • Worse, unlike downloads, game installs must be done as a full-screen thing, meaning you cannot do anything else with your PS3 while a game is installing. ‘Go do something else for a while, the PS3’s useless right now’, pretty much. On the 360 the whole download and install process is seamless and runs in the background, but that doesn’t work here. And as for the Wii, the 40MB maximum size keeps install times short, and it happens automatically after the download too, none of this PS3 oddness.
  • Download speeds from Sony’s PSN network are oddly slow, and take longer than they do on the 360. I know I only have the PS3 connected by wi-fi, not wired internet as I have with the 360 (because I only have one cable long enough to go from the router to where my consoles are), and wi-fi is slower than wired, but still, all that I’ve heard about how slow PSN downloading is seems to be true.
  • On the Xbox 360, if you buy a game on the PC and then turn on your 360, it will automatically download it. On PS3, however, it does not do that; you need to manually go into the store’s previous-purchases list and tell it to download the game manually. It’s a real pain.
  • On a related note, deleting games or files on this system takes FAR longer than it does on 360 or Wii. Why does everything in the interface take so long? It’s crazy how slow this is…

The Worst Thing about the PS3 Interface: System Hard/Flash Memory Drive Limitations – This is a part of the above category, for the most part, but I’ve split it out into its own section because it’s so bad and bizarre that it needs to be mentioned on its own.

  • Worst of all, the PS3 seems to only support one usable system drive at a time. I first got this PS3 without a hard drive, and quickly found that many games require large installs so the 12GB of internal memory very rapidly filled up, much faster than it does on 360. The PS3 supports up to 1TB hard drives, so I got one of those. So, after I installed the hard drive, it asked me if I wanted to switch the save location over to that. If you say no, the HDD basically doesn’t exist and is inaccessible; the system continues to only have the 12GB of internal flash memory available, and nothing more. What?? If you say yes, the system starts a VERY long HDD install process. Once that finally completes, the 12GB internal flash basically doesn’t exist and is inaccessible, unless you remove the hard drive and thus go back to only that. You cannot use both at once. That’s just insane design!
  • Even stupider, even though on the SuperSlim the OS is installed into the system in what I presume is a hidden flash memory space that isn’t user-viewable, once a hard drive is installed, the OS must be installed to the HDD, not the internal memory. That very long install I mentioned is the system copying the OS over to the hard drive. As long as the HDD is in there, both the 12GB user-viewable space and the larger OS space beyond that are hidden and unusable, and that’s crazy. I would much, much rather have the OS stay in its original flash memory location, where it surely will run more quickly than it would from a hard drive. With how slow too many things are in this OS it could use the help. I know that previous PS3 models do not have any internal flash, and only have the hard drive for both the OS and games, but once they made a model with internal flash they needed to fix the OS to account for that fact, to let you continue to use the OS on the internal flash while using the HDD for game installs. If you have internal flash and a hard drive, you must allow people to use both sources. The PSP lets you run games off of the disc or out of the flashdrive menu, and the X360 allows you to save and load from the internal flash, hard drive, or, for save files, cloud saves… and it now even has 2TB external hard drive support too, though this was only added this year and surely would be slow considering that the 360 doesn’t have USB 3.0. But anyway, on PS3, you have none of that, only “only the HDD” or “only the flash”.
  • So, in one positive, the PS3’s maximum hard drive size allowed is 1TB, twice the size of the largest hard drive size the X360 supports, 500GB. That’s good. However, after transferring over the contents of the mostly-full 12GBs of flash memory, and before I had downloaded or installed anything else, the system said it had only 829 of 919 GBs free! Uh, the internal flash was only 12GB, yes? So why did almost ten times that much space get used up? Is the PS3 OS really that huge, or something? Sure, I’m unlikely to fill this up anytime soon given that I’m not subscribing to PSN Plus long term and haven’t been in the past, so I’m not getting all those free game that that have now almost filled up my 360’s hard drive, but still, that’s weird. I wonder how big the hidden OS-only part of the internal flash is…
  • While that internal 12GB space is completely invisible and unusable as far as I can tell so long as you have a hard drive installed, the PS3 does support external USB flash-memory sticks, and also several types of flash memory cards on the first model of the system, but these can only be used for playing videos or music or for copying save-data to, in order to back your save files up that way or easily move them to a different system. You cannot save or copy actual game data itself to a memory stick or card and couldn’t load it from one even if you had a card with game data on it. PS3 games can only save to the device they are installed on. There is no PS3 equivalent to the X360’s “where do you want to save the game to?” menu. Even if you plug a USB thumb flash drive into your PS3, or a memory stick into your first-model system, it won’t let you use it for actual games. This may be an anti-piracy measure, but both the Xbox 360 and Wii let you play games from memory cards/sticks in some way, so it’s a somewhat odd limitation.
  • On a related note, just like how you can’t play games from memory sticks, the PS3 does not support external hard drives either. Whether there is some OS limitation or if it’s a misguided antipiracy measure, it’s unfortunate either way. On the positive side it is very nice that the PS3 has support for up to 1TB hard drives, that’s a decently large size, and it has had that support all along too, unlike Microsoft who only allow HDD sizes they have released, and who only doled out larger drives slowly over the course of the generation; the 360 didn’t get up to its final max internal HDD size of 500GB until 2013, and didn’t support external drives over a few gigabytes until 2016. Now, however, the 360 does finally have support for up to two 2TB external drives, and while they do have slower USB 2.0-only access, that’s still better than the PS3’s max of only 1TB. Games on these systems can be fairly large, so space fills up surprisingly quickly if you buy many digital copies of retail titles. Sony has done nothing similar to keep up with MS. But of course, how could the PS3 support such things when it can’t even support both its hard drive and what is basically an internal flash drive at the same time?

Search issues. Finding the installed game you want to play on your system takes longer than it should.

  • Above, I said that it’s handy that files you can transfer to Sony portables, the PSP or Vita, such as PS1 Classics, PS Minis, and PSP games you downloaded on your PS3, have installers that stick around on your PS3 so you can transfer those files over to the handheld. And that is true. However, Sony’s badly lacking interface and file-sorting systems cause some real problems here: all of these installers appear at the top of your Games list. So, if you want to play a game installed on your PS3, you will need to first scroll down past all installers, even if those are not even for games this system can install or play, until you finally get to the games down below. And as all games you can copy over to a handheld but also do run on the PS3 do not auto-delete the installer after you install the game on the PS3, unless you delete those installers, or copy over the installers then delete them, this can clutter up fast. That you can do this is important because Sony shut off the PSP’s access to the Sony store, so transferring files over from a PS3 is the only way to play downloadable PSP games on an actual PSP, but this could have been handled MUCH better with something as simple as a folder the system puts installers in automatically, instead of requiring all of them to be on the top of your main games list.
  • Relating to the above point, the PS3’s games-list sorting functions are worse than either other TV console of its generation, so it’s harder to find a specific game if you have much at all downloaded to the system than it is on the Wii or 360. There are four sorting options: sort alphabetically, sort by the order you downloaded/installed the files in, sort by folders (useless), or sort by game type. That last one puts the games in three folders, for PS1 Classics, PS3 games (and PS2 Classics), and PS Minis), and there are the usual alphabetized lists within each of those. That’s it. In comparison, the Xbox 360 has a very handy option to sort your games in the order you have most recently played that game, and also a great option to hide demos from your games list if you want. On the 360 you also can scroll quickly using the shoulder buttons to switch over by a bunch of games at a time, important for longer lists. Unfortunately, the PS3 has none of those features: there is no way to hide demos, scroll quickly, or sort by most-recently-used. This makes getting to your games take longer.
  • You also cannot reorganize the order the games appear in the list yourself. You can move Wii games around the system’s menu at will, and it’s a very nice way to keep similar games together, put your more frequently-used games in quicker-to-access places, and such. If you aren’t going to have good sorting options like the 360, at least there should have been some ways to reorganize your list, either like it is on the Wii, or through user-createable custom folder support. You can’t create custom folders either, something which could have helped deal with these issues. I know that the 360 and Wii don’t support this either, but newer systems do and the system has a “folders” sort-view option… but there is no way to create a folder or set folders games should be in, so it’s useless.
  • On top of all of that, the Xbox 360 also has a nice, easy to use search function, not for web search but for searching the contents of your system as well. The PS3 has nothing of the sort; instead you just have to scroll down its cluttered, un-organizable list until you find the game in question.

Finally, while the system itself is mostly fine, I do have a few minor gripes about it.

  • For a Sony system it looks okay (for me about a Sony system, that’s praise!), but while it’s good that the top-loading drive probably is less prone to failure than slot-load drives are, it does make switching games take slightly longer, and it doesn’t look quite as nice as the slot-load drives of the first two models do. it’s also a little harder to put into a height-limited space, since there is little room to reach in to put the disc in from above in such a spot, which is the only place I had to put my PS3. Microsoft, in contrast, kept standard tray-load drives in all three revisions of the Xbox 360. Nintendo did like Sony though, and the Wii Mini has a top-load drive, though that model is much harder to find than this one (the Super Slim PS3) is.
  • The Super Slim has only two USB ports, both on the front only, and you’ll need one of those for the PS Move camera… which I really wish I could plug into the back. With only two ports you could only charge one controller at a time while your Move is plugged in unless you use a hub.
  • As for the controller, it’s alright, though I’ve never liked Sony controllers much. I do like the triggers on this pad a lot more than PS1 or PS2 shoulder buttons though, for sure! They’re nice. The surface on the analog stick feels a little nicer than the PS1 or PS2 ones as well I think. Still though, I’d have liked to see the boomerang controller… so yeah, there’s the issue for this, it’d have been interesting to see that released as an optional alternate pad.

Once you finally get into a game the system works fine, but seriously this interface is not very good. I have heard that the Xbox One’s interface is slow and the PS4’s is actually better, that’d be an unfortunate reversal. As for comparing it to the Wii there are plusses and minuses; the Wii’s interface is easier and quicker to use and is more customizable, but the Wii doesn’t let you run games straight off the SD card, which is awful because it forces you to use up some of the limited writes on the system’s internal memory every time you play a different game from ST, and also does have a separate store app and you can’t download/install games you bought in the background. So versus the Xbox 360 the PS3 falls far, far behind, but versus the Wii it’s close.

About Brian

Computer and video game lover
This entry was posted in Lists, Modern Games, PlayStation 3, Research and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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