In a moment that everybody saw coming, Sony announced the development and impending release of the PlayStation 4 in it’s own conference on February 20th. The two hour presentation was some sort of special as fans intently watched the announcement of the next best thing in gaming only to realize the console itself was nowhere to be seen. In addition to an absent console, gamers were shown lengthy demonstrations of how the console works, some of the new features and demonstrations of what games we can expect to play. Here, we will be going over the highs and lows of the new console announcement, as well as comparing my predictions and wish list to what actually was announced. To catch up on my PS4 wish list, you can read the original article here, as I will be referencing it a lot.
Wish: Name the next console the PS4, not the Orbis – GRANTED
This was literally the first thing announced by Sony, and I’m glad they stuck with the numerical system. The PlayStation already has an established name and fan base, why try to rebrand them?
Wish: Better Online Service – GRANTED
Perhaps the biggest thing to take out of this was the ability to have foreground and background downloading processes, meaning you could start playing a game as it’s still actively downloading. Sony paid a lot of attention to the amount of time users spend downloading content or waiting for their console to boot up and addressed many of those issues. They also added a low powered sleep function, meaning the gamer is able to boot up their PS4 in seconds and resume where they left off. We were also offered a glimpse as to how Gaikai would figure into the PS4. Sony promised that users would be able to download and stream games from the PlayStation PlayStation 2 and PlayStation 3 consoles. There wasn’t a lot of explanation how this would be accomplished or how many games would be available, but the ‘PlayStation Cloud’ simply sounds like a repurposed Gaikai that will allow users to access the entire Sony library, no matter how old or obscure the game is. Although not shown, there was talks of being able to access your PS4 from your tablet or smartphone, similar to what Microsoft had done with the official Xbox Live app as well.
Wish: Trophy Transfer Over and More Physical Rewards – DENIED
Technically, this is a wash since only one of my wishes came true, but this was a two-part wish so it will not count. Trophies will continue to transfer over as we were given a glimpse at some of the new PlayStation Online player badges, but there doesn’t seem to be any desire to translate those trophies into physical gain. This was more of a long-shot anyway, but the big thing here is making it easier to see your friends’ online badge, trophy count, current game session and what they purchase or rent from the PlayStation Store. Again, we didn’t see anything in a official demo but Sony is definitely revamping the user interface for both online sessions and in the console itself.
Wish: Minimal to No Integration with PS Home – GRANTED…sort of
PlayStation Home wasn’t even mentioned once. As mentioned above, Sony is revamping the way users interact and see each other, meaning this could spell the end for PS Home anyway. However, just because it wasn’t mentioned doesn’t mean it won’t come back in some fashion. Consider this half a point until other announcements are made.
Wish: Same-Day Digital with All Games – DENIED
This was another feature not mentioned as much as I was hoping. While a few developers did say Sony would continue to support same-day digital releases, I don’t think this will be happening for every single game on the market, which is why this wish goes in the denied column. I expect first-party titles to be available for download the same day as their physical counterpart, especially with the foreground/background technology that Sony contains with the PS4. Gong back to the PlayStation Cloud and the ability to stream games and the like, it was stated that the PS Cloud would be released in small bits here and there, meaning it will be a work in progress. The idea is to give future PlayStation owners access to every past PlayStation game, despite what generation PlayStation they will be on at the time. If Sony really wants to set a new trend, then same-day digital releases should be considered in their game plan.
Wish: Stick with the Dualshock Controller – DENIED
Another point taken away due to inconsistent wording here. I originally stated that I wanted the PS4 to have the same Dualshock that I’m currently using for my PS3. The next generation PlayStation controller is still called the Dualshock but it contains a giant touchpad in the center and a share button. Notably absent from the controller are start and select, which will probably live on as gesture based commands on the touchpad. It is already rumored that the screen will also contain game related data, such as health, ammo, heads-up display and more. The controller also features a headset jack, something completely different for Sony who usually opts for the wireless route. While still a Dualshock controller at its core, it has definitely undergone some drastic changes like Barry Bonds in the nineties.
Wish: Feasible Starting Price with Less Options – DENIED
We didn’t get a look at the PS4 (assuming it’s being saved for an E3 reveal or not complete), but we already have some insight on the price and release date. Allegedly, the PS4 will be released with two models, one going for $429 and another going for $529. These are just rumors and speculation, but I really believe if Sony were to market the new console any cheaper, they would have made that announcement already. Again, this information could be saved for a big E3 reveal, but for now consider this another wrong-wish that I’ll complain about. I can live with there being two different console bundles, but I’d prefer just one version of the PS4 to exist, especially on launch.
Wish: More Features – GRANTED
I mentioned already that Gaikai will be a major force in the form of PlayStation Cloud, but there are several other features that make the PS4 attractive so early in its development. First off, your friends will now be able to ‘join’ your game as a spectator and watch you play, as well as provide commentary and help out when needed. Through the new PlayStation Camera (PlayStation Kinect, essentially), you’ll even be able to see each other live. Sony also talked about being able to allow friends to take control of your game and, “beat the level for you, or show you how to do something,” which doesn’t appeal to me as much but is definitely an interesting idea. In my Wish List article, I talked about wanting the ability to download game data prior to actually owning the game which wasn’t announced, but lives on with background downloads anyway. The PlayStation 4 also appears to be heavily influenced by a PC and boasts some killer specs; eight-core sixty-four bit processor, eight gigabytes of unified GDDR5 RAM, wireless-N, USB 3.0 ports and of course BluRay.
Thanks to Geek Legacy executive editor Justin Cavender for sending me this screen shot of all the third party support the PS4 will be receiving. Although not features, this is something worth noting as Sony is really trying to appeal to the indie developers here.
Final Rating: 3.5/8…eek.
We were also treated to a number of game trailers and demonstrations that you can find on the Geek Legacy website by simply searching for PS4. My personal favorites were Watch_Dogs and Infamous: Second Son, which I recommend you check out. In all, this was a decent conference, but I can’t help but wonder if this should have been reserved for a developers meeting and not for the general public. A new console is great, but too much time was spent on what the console boasts internally and not the games that we will eventually purchase. This was a good start, however, and I feel this serves as an appetizer for what is to come at GDC and E3 later this year. As of now, the PlayStation 4 is slated for a Holiday 2013 release with no official price listed, although $429 and $529 appear to be likely.
What do you Geeks think? Impressed with the PlayStation 4? Think it needed something else? Has Sony piqued your interest enough to consider buying one?