In just a few hours, Sony will be pulling back the curtain on the company’s next big PlayStation announcement. The groundswell to this announcement has been immense, with tons of speculation and hype being generated by a teaser video that featured no more than a date and the PlayStation logo.
The timing is about right for a new console announcement as the current generation seems to be plateauing technologically. Oddly though, I think that Sony is in better position to milk this current generation and may have stayed quiet if not for a couple of factors. The obvious first is that Nintendo released their Wii U this past fall to tepid success. When one considers how the Wii U’s slow start compares to the Wii’s market domination, Sony absolutely had to make a move while their Japanese rival Nintendo appeared vulnerable. The second is an attempt to stay on level footing with Microsoft, which also seems primed for a new console announcement. While Sony has been getting an increased number of console exclusives lately, Microsoft has built a steady foothold with superior cross-platform releases and a loyal user base. This year, it appears that Microsoft is ready to red-ring the current line of 360s in favor of something new. Only one major Xbox 360 exclusive is scheduled for all of 2013 thus far: Gears of War Judgement. Taking that into account, it would be safe to guess that Microsoft is keeping its in-house projects close to the vest and is ready to continue the Xbox brand’s success in North America.
Although the long rumored Project Orbis has been churning for some time now, the PS3’s successor has not seen much hard facts until recently. What has been confirmed through leaks and sources with PS4 developer kits is that the new system should have the following specs:
- 4x Dual core x86 AMD processor
- AMD R10xx Liverpool GPU
- 2.2 GB Video RAM
- 8 GB System RAM
- 160 GB HDD
Now keep in mind that these are developer’s kit specs, so odds are that some of the numbers (likely system RAM and HDD space) will change for retail release. Orbis is expected to of course continue using Blu-Ray, have all the standard HDMI, USB, Digital 5.1 & 7.1 ports as well. I’m sure it will support 3D in the same way that the PS3 did, despite that technology seeming like a bit of a fad. The controller looks to borrow technology from Sony’s PS Vita handheld, notably some form of tactile input like the back of their portable. Posted to Kotaku.com, photos of the controller (that does not look like a Batarang) confirm a touch pad on face of the controller and I hope that the controller will use the next iteration of DualShock and maybe SIXAXIS, because you know how much fun balancing on beams can be.
As far as new innovations, I expect the next round of consoles, PS4 or otherwise to continue the push towards digital delivery. Sony has made an absolute deal out of PS Plus (something I have yet to subscribe to) featuring free full games and a constant stream of discounts. Although the netcode of their multiplayer and chat service is still not close to Xbox Live’s offerings, PS Plus continues to be the anti-Live. With the amount of power coming to these new systems (and some improvements to broadband service) maybe games could make a move to streaming, so that huge installs will be a thing of the past.
One thing I am concerned about is anti-piracy / anti-used games technology. As a consumer, I like having the option of wandering into a GameStop and perusing their used titles for something silly to play that I had no intention of paying full retail price for. I have no problem with online passes, to me this is no different from using a serial code on a PC game. But things one-time codes only available at retail prices and always online DRM are absolute deal breakers for me. I, like most people, just don’t have the revenue to always be purchasing games at full retail, especially if we are handcuffed into purchasing in one way only.
Besides, with a gaming backlog as large as the one on my closet and Sony’s impressive list of console exclusives this year, I think sitting back and enjoying my PS3 is a perfectly fine substitute while Sony sorts out its launch year.