annoyances · PS3

PlayStation Store PS3 Avatars Rant

Each month, I turn on my PS3 to nab the free PS Plus games, and while I’m in the store, I decide to check out what’s new in terms of themes and avatars because I’m one of the few people out there that like them and may even spend money to purchase ones I like.

It is disheartening that the quality of the avatars found on the US and Canada stores has dramatically degraded over time. I’m unsure if other countries outside of Japan have also seen an influx of these, but if you haven’t then you should count your blessings.

PS Store Canada - Avatars
What is this shit? Do people actually buy these??

I know that effort is put into these third party indie creations but they honestly look like something some kids whipped up overnight with grungy, gritty images they found on Google Images or some clip art from a word processing program.

One of the biggest offenses are the ones that feature boring ol’ computer fonts, all in the same font size, on a solid colour background. The ones above with the filters and scaling aren’t much better. There are countless of examples of mind-blowingly GORGEOUS works of typography and a shit ton of free and creative fonts out there. Anyone working with fonts should take some time to read and understand how amazing graphics or artwork with only text can look.

Sorry, if I’m coming across as arrogant. I’m just more opinionated and sensi-tive about these sort of things because most people don’t have a critical eye when it comes to graphic design; it’s always “well, it’s good enough” or “it does the job”. NO. That butt-ugly Serif typeface you’re using in the game or promotional trailer may be well suited for readability but there are other, less ugly choices too! You will be amazed how different a change in something like that could make. (But from my understanding, it’s not always possible because changing a font in a game may take a lot of work. :/)

Yes, part of what’s considered to be aesthetically pleasing is subjective but graphic design exists as a discipline for a reason. Without it, there would be a lot more ugly packaging, logos — well, just a lot of ugly all over the place.

Anyway, I take it SCEJ (Sony Computer Entertainment Japan) refused to open the floor for the kinds of avatars we’re getting because the Avatars category at the Japanese store is devoid of them. There’s fun stuff like this instead:

PS Store Japan - Toro Cosplay Avatars
Lots of Toro avatars!

It’s actually sort of strange that Toro, being a Sony mascot character, is largely ignored in Western regions but you can find him in all sorts of games and media in Japan. Perhaps it’s because he’s not burly and armed with a gun? Or maybe he’s not angry enough like how Nintendo NA used to keep redoing Kirby cover art to give the pink ball those angry eyebrows to make him look serious and tough.

Although it may seem like it, I’m not praising the Japanese PlayStation Store in a weeaboo way (re: Japan is the best! Nihon ga ichiban desu! Anime and manga foreverrrrrr!!! Woohoo! Moe! Tsundare!! Western stuff sucks!). It is a FACT that there are legitimately many fun, cute, and beautiful works on it that we will never see on this side of the world. Heck, there’s every chance that one of your favourite characters has its own avatar there. On that note, here’s an example of Hyperdimension Neptunia U: Action Unleashed avatars that’s probably not found on your local PS Store:

PS Store Japan - Cute Neptunia Avatars
I love the sprite versions! Some of the SD ones are cute too~!

I’m not even sure why these avatars are not available in the North American stores considering the game’s been out here and Europe since May of this year. I guess it’s based on demand and it’s a niche fan base? Still, I’m sure fans outside of Japan would appreciate these. :/

Then there’s the whole issue of region locking. It puzzles me to no end that these profile images can’t be used on multiple accounts. If you buy them from one country account, they can’t be used in another! What gives? It can’t be a copyright issue because the same isn’t true with themes.

At any rate, I’m probably ranting into the void about this but it’d be nice to hear from others that share similar thoughts about the state of the Avatars section on their PS Store. But if you disagree, we can discuss that too. 🙂

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