Sony has launched PlayStation Music for PlayStation 4 and PlayStation 3, a new music streaming service that replaces the unsuccessful Music Unlimited app that Sony quietly killed off.
PlayStation Music is the result of an exclusive partnership with Spotify. The new music app looks and feels like Spotify, with the iconography and features all essentially taken from the music streaming service, but with one striking difference. PlayStation Music is designed for the huge 1080p TV screens and PlayStation DualShock controllers.
"We've optimized the experience for the big screen. We've been looking at how to make Spotify available on smart TVs and other non-mobile devices, and for us, this is the pinnacle experience in terms of big screens," says Spotify head of global product marketing Tim Grimsditch, in an interview with The Guardian. "We've learned over the years to try to really simplify for a big-screen leaning back experience."
Spotify has more than 60 million users, 15 million of which are paying subscribers, so plenty of PS4 and PS3 gamers are already familiar with the interface. Once they sign in using their Spotify accounts or using the Spotify Connect feature on a smartphone or tablet, they are directed to Spotify's Browse section where users can find genre-based or mood-based playlists as well as user-curated playlists.
Users can play music in the background while they play games and adjust the volume, skip songs, or change playlists in the middle of the game simply by holding down the PS button to bring up the menu.
"We're not just sticking a music player onto a games console," says Grimsditch. "We wanted to make sure we made Spotify work hard for gamers."
For now, however, most games cannot detect if music is playing in the background, so the music will mix with the in-game music and sound effects, though most games will allow users to adjust the sound settings and turn off the music if desired. Sony is encouraging game developers to create playlists for their games to give gamers an alternative to the in-game soundtrack.
PlayStation Music is rolling out to 41 markets, including the U.S., U.K., and Canada and is available with either a free or paid Spotify account, compared to the now defunct Music Unlimited, which was only available in 19 countries.
The new app is Sony's latest move in a concerted effort to transform the PlayStation into more than just a video game console but a full-blown entertainment hub. PS owners have long been able to stream movies and videos from Netflix, Amazon, and YouTube using their consoles, and recently, Sony unveiled PlayStation Vue, an Internet TV service that gives users access to more than 50 over-the-air and cable TV channels for a $50 monthly subscription.