An undisclosed source has apparently told VG247 that Sony's PlayStation 3 is in for a radical interface overhaul in an upcoming pre-holiday firmware update. PS3 Firmware 3.0 (v2.8 was just released--see pic above) will be "a completely new system," writes the site, citing its source as calling the update "a huge overhaul," comparable to Microsoft's New Xbox Experience "in some respects."
According to the source, new features will include a mechanism for rating other players (something the Xbox 360's had since launch), an option to report disruptive players to Sony and submit screen captures of their nefarious deeds, the option to download patches in the background, and the ability to output HDMI video and digital optical audio simultaneously.
VG247 claims they've been told "a lot more" but isn't disclosing what any of that might be. If I had to guess, given recent rumors, Sony's planning to debut a slimmer, cheaper, more fully-featured PS3 as we head toward the holidays. Don't call it a total makeover, but enough of a shift to turn heads and pick up sales during a particularly crucial sales period. We're halfway through these systems' life cycles, and Sony's done very poorly by nearly anyone's standards (most of all, its own). It clearly needs some major wins, and fast.
What'll help: Uncharted 2, Jak and Daxter: The Lost Frontier, Demon's Souls, Ratchet & Clank Future: A Crack in Time, and MAG--all PS3 exclusives, all due yet this year.
What won't: Gran Turismo 5, God of War 3, Heavy Rain, White Knight Chronicles, The Last Guardian, and Final Fantasy XIII, all at one time 2009 exclusives, now bumped to 2010.
And then there's what's missing from the VG247 firmware list. Where's the option to go back and play PlayStation 2 games? What about global voice chat? Social media compatibility, including Twitter and Facebook integration? Invisible (and radically faster) trophy synchronization?
PS3 owners: Am I expecting too much? What new features are you interested in most?
UPDATE: Sony Computer Entertainment America Director of Corporate Communications Patrick Seybold contacted me to say the story is, in fact, baseless. "These rumors are completely untrue," he writes, adding that "nothing has been announced or confirmed for upcoming PlayStation firmware, and this is just wild speculation."
For more gaming news and opinion, point your tweet-readers at twitter.com/game_on.