PlayStation Network redesign in the offing?

The 'PS4 in 2012' rumor may be ridiculous, but whispers of a revamped PlayStation Network may be slightly less so.

In 2008, Microsoft's 'New Xbox Experience' reboot took a page (or was it a book?) from Sony's up-down, left-right Emmy-winning XrossMediaBar PlayStation 3 interface. According to Reg Hardware, it sounds like Sony's about to return the nod by revamping its PlayStation Network interface "along the lines of Xbox LIVE."

Consider this un-sourced (or rather the de facto ghostly choir of "sources familiar with the new look") and as with all such claims, possibly just magical thinking, but Reg Hardware says it's "learned" that Sony's planning a major PSN interface rethink. The premise? The PSN tends to be text-heavy to a fault, thus Sony's planning to make it more "image-driven," taking cues from both Microsoft's Xbox LIVE and Valve's Steam.

The new look is described by Reg Hardware's tipster(s) as "an aesthetic layout with logically marked sections and rolodex lists." That'd surely be a switch. The current interface stacks large navigable text-filled buttons at screen left and crams variably sized images (also navigable) into the remaining two-thirds of the screens. Simple? Perhaps. Elegant and intuitive? Perhaps not.

It sounds like Sony's taking a cue from search VIPs like Google as well, with a new live search angle where results appear in real-time as you input text. That's apparently complemented by new movie and games sections that function "IMDB-style," allowing you to drill on products by tapping attributes like "actor" and "director" or "publisher" and "developer." Sony's also planning a "deals of the week" section and planning to swap the PSN's overwhelmingly electric-blue look for "ultra bright colors" set against a black background.

When? Who knows. Reg Hardware references the PlayStation 4's supposed debut next year with Kinect-like motion-sensing, a rumor so ridiculous it barely warrants mention. Sony's said repeatedly that a new PlayStation won't happen for years. They'd be foolish to break stride now absent abundant developer support just to thwart Nintendo or introduce a Kinect clone. Maybe they're planning a new iteration of the PS3, or—I'm reaching here—a new version of the PlayStation Eye capable of 3D motion-capture. But the chances we'll see something like the PS4 next year are pretty much zero.

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This story, "PlayStation Network redesign in the offing?" was originally published by PCWorld.

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