Sony sent out an email over the weekend to announce that the Communities feature on PlayStation 4 will be removed from the console beginning in April. Communities have been with the console since 2015 and have been the equivalent of Facebook groups, subreddits, or Discord servers for those looking to commune with friends and like-minded players without leaving the console.
Thank you for using the Communities feature on your PlayStation®4 console. Beginning in April 2021, this feature will no longer be supported or available on your PS4™ console.
However, you will still be able to stay connected and enjoy messaging features and more on your PS4™ console and PlayStation®App.Sony Announcement
This isn’t the first time that Sony has pruned its Communities offerings. The feature was removed from PlayStation 5 in an early firmware update and earlier in 2020 Sony retired dedicated mobile apps that let players interact with their Communities. Why now? This PlayStation Blog post from when the feature launched in 2015 does a good job of explaining how complex the feature was to build, opening with “it’s big. It’s messy. It impacts everything. It’s not easy”. And I’m sure that moderating the content, not to mention the technical maintenance, takes a non-trivial number of employees working around the clock.
Some are hopeful that Communities will be replaced by a new-and-improved social platform but I can’t help thinking that it’s the last thing Sony wants to invest in right now. To me, it’s another move by PlayStation’s new management to cut extraneous costs (and services) around their console business. Over just the last year they’ve excised pre-PlayStation 4 content from the web, deleted the long histories of PlayStation.com and Europe’s dedicated PlayStation Blog, and just recently announced they’re getting out of the movie and TV rental and sales business. I’d be thrilled to be wrong and see Sony launch a new social offering in the coming months but I just can’t see that happening from here.
Unfortunately, we don’t know exactly when Sony will push the latest PlayStation 4 firmware that will remove the Communities feature so I’m putting April 5th down on the Watch List calendar. I’ll update this post again once it’s live.