Thoughts on the Playstation 4 Press Conference
With speculation running rampant over the past few months, it seemed everyone had some piece of information or supposed details regarding next generation consoles. Would they block used games, be priced exorbitantly high, or be released this year? Well, Sony decided to strike first in the next generation battle between themselves and Microsoft (I know Nintendo truly “struck first” with their Wii U release, but compared to what Sony and Microsoft are moving towards, and the Wii U being more of a “catch-up” console, I am of the belief that Nintendo is going to eventually be left in the dust in the console race). Here are the main highlights of the conference, and some key features we now know and still don’t know about the Playstation 4:
What We Know
- New Controller Design – With many leaks regarding the Dualshock 4, we have now finally seen the design of the new controller. The design is similar to the standard Dualshock 3, with a small touch-pad on the top-center, and the inclusion of a “share” button that will allow users to easily share live game play streams or upload videos to Facebook. The controller has some extra additions including a headphone jack, built-in speaker, and LED light bar that can adjust color based on in-game queues (such as a character being low on health).
- Release Date – While we weren’t given an exact date, we were given a solid window. The Playstation 4 will be released for the holiday season this year, 2013. I’m assuming a November release would be most likely, though that can easily change based on Microsoft’s moves.
- Hardware Specs – I’ll get straight to the point, here. Sony reports the PS4 will have a custom designed chip with eight Jaguar x86-64 cores, arranged as two clusters of four. A big improvement has been made to the GPU with the new console having an 18 compute unit array that is much easier for developers to utilize and is capable of producing 1.84 teraflops of processing power. Add to this 8GB of GDDR5 memory and it seems that Sony is dead-set on making the Playstation 4 a powerful machine whose capabilities are easier tapped compared to the complex Playstation 3 system.
- The Console Will Play Used Games – Despite rumors to the contrary, Sony made it clear in an interview with Eurogamer that they will not block used games on its upcoming console.
- A Big Library of Games in Development – Many developers have been announced with projects for the PS4, with games revealed including a new “Final Fantasy” title from Square-Enix, “Diablo III” from Blizzard, “Destiny” from Bungie, sequels to “Infamous” and “Killzone”, and a host of new IPs.
- Other Details – Some other things we learned about Sony’s new console is that it will have both Vita and smartphone connectivity. The Vita may be used for remote play, while your iPhone/iPad can download an app that will allow you to purchase new content when not in front of your console among other features. The system will have USB 3.0 ports (unknown how many). Also, a nice addition, is the new low-power “suspend” mode that will allow users to put the console in a low-power state when finished with their session and when ready to resume playing, pick up right where they left off.
What We Don’t Know
- Pricing – Sony has strategically decided to wait until Microsoft makes a move to release its pricing scheme for the system. With reports ranging from $400 to upwards of $600, speculation will still continue on this key point. Based on their wait and watch attitude, Sony seems to have learned from its past mistakes with the PS3 and will likely stay at an affordable price range. The most likely prediction, as reported by one outfit, is that Sony will have two systems available – one priced around $400 and a premium version around $500. Expect a more solid idea as E3 approaches.
- Backwards Compatibility – With Sony revealing that the new Playstation will not play this generation’s PSN titles, Sony has yet to make an official stance on retail title backwards compatibility. Reports seem to point toward streaming-based backwards compatibility, as the new innards of the system will likely make it difficult for true physical media-based backwards compatibility, yet the true nature of this feature is still up in the air.
- Console Design – For all the reveals made by Sony at the press conference, one thing that remained hidden is the Playstation 4 system itself. There were no prototype consoles on display, and Sony has said that the final design is still in the works. Again, look for the console to be on display at E3.
- Other Details – As mentioned above, we still are unsure of the exact release date of the console. Further, some random details still need to be finalized (i.e. console ports and online structure).
There was certainly a lot of major information revealed during the initial Playstation 4 press conference. The system seems to be quite a workhorse, with Sony really going all-in on hardware specs. While it will be likely direct comparisons between the PS4 and next Microsoft console will likely lean in Sony’s favor (early reports on the next XBox put the system a leg behind Sony’s details, and it seems unlikely Microsoft will make or be able to make any drastic changes at this point in development). With some details still in the dark, Sony seems to be gathering a large amount of positive buzz regarding their announcement, and rightfully so. If the pricing scheme is competitive and other minor details fall in line, Sony can really put itself in great position for the next generation. I, for one, am really looking forward to see what Sony does for E3.