Today Sony released a huge PlayStation 4 FAQ and needless to say some small clarifications have led to some large revelations. Let's just say one in particular stands out as rather extreme. Despite boasting about the PS4's ability to run music in the background while playing games, it's not clear that not only will the console be unable to run audio CDs, but it won't be able to play MP3 files at all. What's the only currently announced way to play music on PS4 then? Sony's very own $60 a year Music Unlimited subscription service.
Two questions in particular headline the above facts, two questions that are difficult to misinterpret:
Will I be able to play MP3s on PS4? No.
Can I listen to audio CDs using PS4? No, PS4 does not support audio CDs.
Then a third covers exactly how the illustrious background music feature can actually be used:
Will I be able to play background music while I play PS4 games? Yes, the Music Unlimited streaming service will allow you to listen to music while you play PS4 games. A subscription to Music Unlimited is required.
It's at this point we have to ask ourselves, "Is there something we're missing here?" It just doesn't seem reasonable that Sony would restrict music playback on their console to such a totalitarian degree. Sony does mention the possibility of other music services coming to their platform. However, just cursory research shows that nothing else is confirmed. In fact, at least one huge music service provider, Spotify, has said they won't be coming to PS4 at all. Add on that Sony makes it clear that only Sony's Music Unlimited feature will allow background music and... wow. Just wow.
Forgive me for not realizing just how unfortunate of a situation music on the PlayStation 4 is earlier, the message just got lost in Sony's marketing language I suppose. Sony, in order to maximize adoption of their own music service, have locked down their platform to any other form of music playback. Even MP3 playback, a cursory function of even basic computers for years, has been disallowed. This isn't like the PS4 isn't capable of playing MP3s, this is Sony saying they won't allow it. Just astonishing.
The PlayStation 4 will launch November 15, only a bit longer than two weeks from now.
Update: Sony Computer Entertainment President of Worldwide Studios Shuhei Yoshida posted the following reply in regards to the lack of MP3 support in the PlayStation 4:
"Thanks for the feedback to the lack of MP3 and DLNA support at the launch of PS4. I'll share with the PS4 Dev team for future consideration."
In other words, don't expect any changes any time soon.