Sunday, February 24, 2013

Sony Announces PlayStation 4, Doesn't Show Hardware

On Wednesday, Sony announced the fourth-generation PlayStation console. The previous generation, PlayStation 3, was released in 2006. The PS4 is scheduled to launch this year - 7 years after the previous generation.

Here's a summary of what was announced.
  1. There was no set release date or price point announced. We also did not get to see the console itself. There have been some reports saying that the hardware is still in development.
  2. The console is obviously much more powerful than the previous-gen. It also has a sleep mode, so it comes on instantly when you're ready to play. However, not many specs were announced. It is known that that architecture is close to the a PC, with an 8-core x86 processor. It is supposed to be easy to develop for. There will be 8GB of RAM.
  3. There is a redesigned DualShock 4 controller. It has a share button, a touchpad (which will work based on how developers use it) and colored lights on the front to identify players. There will also be a Kinect-like bar that will track the controllers in 3D.
  4. The PS4 is touted to be more social, with social-network integration, streaming of gameplay to friends, some spectator and tutor modes etc. The console will also allow recording of game footage to be instantly shared.
  5. PS Vita is touted as the "ultimate companion" to the PS4. The "long-term goal" is to make every PS4 game remotely playable on the PS Vita when user is on the go.
  6. PS3 and earlier games are not natively supported on PS4, but with some cloud tech and partnership with Gaikai, Sony aims to make those games playable on the new console.
There were many game companies and indie developers showing off their games at the press conference and agreeing with Sony about how dev-friendly the PS4 is. Some notable demos/trailers were those of Killzone: Shadowfall, Driveclub and Watch_Dogs. These and many other demos from the event are available on the PlayStation YouTube channel.

Personal note: PS4 looks very interesting. The game footage shown off was certainly amazing. I like how the console is supposed to be dev-friendly. But along with many other people, I'm skeptical about how the social aspect of the console will work. Many people (including myself) would like a console that offer a pure gaming experience without any friends involved unless the specific game is designed to do something otherwise. As a non-console gamer, I will not be getting one of these, at least in the next four or five years. I am curious to see what Microsoft does with their XBOX (hopefully something will come out this year).