PlayStation 4, the Information and the Reactions
Last night, in a two and a half hour event that was dubbed the “PlayStation Meeting 2013”, Sony officially announced their new console, the PlayStation 4. Sony, the first company to announce the “next generation” of console video gaming, took to the stage to release details on their new system, ranging from some information about the system itself, to having developers show off games that they are creating for it. Social media websites such as Twitter exploded with comments, both positive and negative, relating to Sony and the PlayStation 4, making it a worldwide trending topic. Sit back and relax, as the following is information regarding the PlayStation 4, including reactions to some of the major features and games that were announced during last night’s meeting.
Sony started the night off right, announcing that their new system was to be called the PlayStation 4, and sharing certain specifications regarding the hardware that is being put into the console. For a processor, the PlayStation 4 will use a x86 CPU. The x86 CPU architecture can be found in many recent computer processors, including the Intel i series and Intel Sandy/Ivy Bridge products. For a GPU, Sony claims that the PlayStation 4 will use an enhanced PC GPU. Finally, for memory, the PlayStation 4 will contain eight gigabytes of GDDR5 memory. GDDR5 RAM currently sells for at least $500 in it’s lowest capacity, bringing into question the pricing that the PlayStation 4 may be available for. One of the biggest announcements regarding the hardware came a little bit later, where it was insinuated that there would be no backwards compatibility with any previous PlayStation games, including those from the PlayStation 3. Public reaction turned sour at the thought of this, especially with those whom bought heavily into the PlayStation 3 and own a large catalog of games for it.
During the announcement of the lack of backwards compatibility, Gaikai was brought on stage to announce their partnership with the PlayStation 4. Sony acquired Gaikai in July of 2012 for approximately $380 million USD, spurring the rumors of Sony using their technology to assist in streaming games to Sony’s new console. Gaikai, similar to OnLive, is a cloud-based gaming service which streams games to the player without them having to download and store the game. Using Gaikai’s technology, players will be able to stream demos of games straight to their PlayStation 4 before they buy a game. In addition, when a player purchases the game, the player will be able to play the game before the game is fully downloaded, eliminating the sometimes long wait times that a full game may have in downloading to the player’s console. Using Gaikai, PlayStation wants to help connect players to their friends, allowing them to watch, and even participate, in their friend’s games.
The discussion of sharing your games with your friends led into the announcement of the new controller, the DUALSHOCK 4, which was shown at the meeting. At first glance, the main noticeable differences including the large touchpad in the center of the controller and the removal of the “Start” and “Select” buttons in favor of “Options” and “Share” buttons. Using the new “Share” button, players can directly stream out their gameplay using a streaming service, which Sony currently showed using Ustream, or take pictures or video to upload to Facebook accounts. Within these features, players can also interact with the viewers of their game, showing the live chat on the players’ screen and even possibly allowing their friends to take over control of their game if they happen to be stuck in a certain place. While streaming is a growing industry, the overshare of the current social media landscape has turned many people away from it. While many people were excited for this new functionality, as it removed the need to purchase additional hardware for a PC in order to be able to stream console games, others felt that this was taken too far, citing that they wanted their gaming to be a personal experience.
Other features of the new DUALSHOCK 4 controller included a new six-axis sensor, a built-in speaker, a headset jack for the headset that will come bundled with the PlayStation 4 and an LED which shows the color of the player and can also allow for context-specific color changes depending on the in-game situations. In addition to the controller, Sony showed off an additional peripheral to be used alongside the controller, a dual camera, ala the Nintendo Wii sensor bar or the Microsoft Kinect, which can be used to sense the depth and 3D location of the control in relation to the camera. The camera will also contain four microphones for detecting sounds in the room and will also support the PlayStation Move, which Sony assured would still be incorporated in PlayStation 4 games.
While all of details for the controller were being shared, Sony brought out developers of some games that are being made for the PlayStation 4 to show off what they are working on. To start out with, Sony announced that the lead architect of the PlayStation 4 is Mark Cerny, who has worked on games for companies such as Atari in 1982, Sega, Naughty Dog, Insomniac Games and more. In addition, Mark is also developing one of the first first-party games on the PlayStation 4 called Knack, a platforming action game which Mark claims that he is making to bring back the fun and easy accessibility of old platformer games. Knack is made up of ancient relics, bound together by a scientist and given a consciousness. In order to solve the puzzles within the game or to be able to defeat the enemies, Knack will be able to transform into different sizes using the relics nearby, being able to give him more power when he is larger, or making him smaller and easier to traverse a certain area. In addition, Knack will be able to incorporate other substances, such as ice or metal, in order to solve some of the puzzles. A demo was shown which also supported Sony’s push into cross-platform compatibility, allowing Mark to take his PlayStation 4 version of the game and play it immediately on his PlayStation Vita.
Pushing cross-platform functionality was something that Sony made a point of as well. Sony announced that they would be continuing support for the PlayStation Vita for the future and insinuated that many, if not all, games that were made for the PlayStation 4 would also be playable via the PlayStation Vita as well. In addition, Sony pushed their “second screen” plans, explaining that they wanted the PlayStation Vita, and also iPhones, iPads, and Android devices, to be able to show complimentary information to the games that the player plays via the “PlayStation App” currently in development. With the reach of “smart” mobile devices on the rise, fans were excited to be able to transfer their game to their PlayStation Vita to continue playing if their TV was being used for other purposes, or to be able to unlock additional content on their mobile devices to be used alongside the games that they were playing.
Guerrilla Games graced the stage next to announce the newest game in the Killzone franchise, though not one with a number to it. Killzone: Shadow Fall was shown, a game that takes place thirty years in the future from the last Killzone game and takes place on a planet where the Vektans and Helghast live side-by-side in a futuristic city divided by a massive wall, ala the Berlin Wall. Guerrilla Games followed the announcement by showing gameplay footage. This was the first moment where a high definition “realistic” game was being shown from the PlayStation 4 hardware and what was shown did not disappoint the fans. Unlike most military shooters of recent days, the city that was shown was made of vibrant colors with a large depth to it. While another Killzone game wasn’t exactly exciting to fans, the way it looked helped assure them that they were trying to create as beautiful of a scene as was possible.
Following Guerrilla was Evolution Studios, the company behind the PlayStation exclusive racing franchise MotorStorm. Continuing in the racing scene, Evolution wanted to make a racing game featuring real cars, but felt that the PlayStation 3 did not have enough power to handle what they wanted to create. While real gameplay wasn’t necessarily shown, Evolution explained that they wanted to create an immersive experience in which you could race against people from around the world with your friends, being able to issue challenges to other racing organizations either through the game’s interface or using the mobile connections that they were planning. But it wasn’t just about the driving, it was about the entire experience. Evolution dubbed Driveclub as the first “first-person-racing” game, where you were the driver and were able to control everything, even getting into the car at the beginning of the race.
Next, a representative from Sucker Punch Productions came on stage. After delivering a very serious sounding speech about how the government was out to protect it’s people, but what happens when the government does the opposite, a trailer was shown, featuring a character with powers that allowed him to turn into smoke and teleport around, taking out military units while the security team watched. At the end of the trailer, it was announced that this was the next game in the inFAMOUS series titled “Second Son”. Featuring a new main character in the city of Seattle with new powers, helping people after a deadly bus crash found him with new powers and abilities. Second Son takes place seven years after the last inFAMOUS game where the government is arresting people who may be suspected of being “bio-terrorists”, containing the powers that the new character obtains.
After inFAMOUS, the well-known independent developer who created the popular game Braid, Jonathan Blow, was brought on stage to show off his newest creation. In development for over three years, Jonathan announced that The Witness, a new puzzle game, would be coming out on the PlayStation 4. The Witness takes place on a small island and is to be an open-world puzzle game, similar to the classic Myst games. Using non-linear gameplay, players are able to explore the island and choose to solve whichever puzzles they wish to in any order that they wish to. Jonathan claimed that there would be no filler or repetition in the 25 hours of gameplay that are to be contained in The Witness.
The scene changed when the next groups took the stage. Capcom announced that they were creating a game initially titled “Deep Down” using their new Panta Rhei engine. Deep Down appeared to be a dungeon crawler adventure game, but little else was shown. Media Molecule, creators of LittleBigPlanet, also took the stage to demonstrate that they were still using the PlayStation Move and showed off how they were throwing the idea of polygons out the window and demonstrated how they could model in 3D using just the PlayStation Move. Quantic Dream, makers most recently of Heavy Rain, also showcased how they were using the technology of the PlayStation 4 to create the most realistic looking people possible on a console right now. Finally, the biggest disappointment of the show went to Square Enix. Much to the public’s dismay, they showed a cinematic trailer that they had shown off at E3 in 2012, followed by announcing that they were creating a new Final Fantasy game. Unfortunately, they gave no details and showed nothing new at all regarding any of their work.
Ubisoft was given the stage next so that they could show off one of the most anticipated video games of 2013 by many video game journalists, Watch_Dogs. This was the first game to confirm that it was being developed not only for the PlayStation 3, but also for the PlayStation 4 upon it’s release. While additional information was not given on any details regarding Watch_Dogs, Ubisoft did show off a brand new gameplay demo that had not been seen before. Continuing, and to many peoples’ surprise, Blizzard was brought out to announce their project with Sony. Though it is one of Blizzard’s most popular video games, it was received with mixed reviews when they announced that Diablo III would be released on both the PlayStation 3 and PlayStation 4. With Blizzard having not released the full feature set originally announced for the PC as of yet, fans were not entirely on board. However, Blizzard announced that the console version would support up to four-player co-op. Finally, Bungie came out to announce that their new project, Destiny, would be released on both the PlayStation 3 and PlayStation 4 as well and would contain content exclusive to the PlayStation.
In general, Sony’s reveal of the PlayStation 4 was well received, both by the general public and by video game media, however it is unclear whether they were excited for the thought of a new PlayStation or the thought of the next generation of consoles to be released. By the end of the meeting, however, there were still two unanswered questions that Sony left unanswered: what was the PlayStation 4 going to look like and what was it going to cost? While most people were disappointed that Sony did not announce these, one analyst, Jesse Divnich from the Electronic Entertainment Design and Research research firm, claimed that this announcement was well-timed given the current state of video games. He also went on to explain that Sony made the right decision in not announcing a price, as they made this mistake with the PlayStation 3. He says that this will give Sony the opportunity to competitively price is based on the price of the assumedly upcoming new Xbox from Microsoft.
Speaking of Microsoft, the ball is in their court now. With Sony announcing the PlayStation 4 well before E3 2013, which most people expected to hear the announcements, Microsoft is now at both an advantage and a disadvantage in the next generation console market. Earlier, Sony CEO Kaz Hirai was quoted saying, “Why go first, when your competitors can look at your specifications and come up with something better?” Now that Sony has announced the PlayStation 4 first, contrary to Kaz’s statement, Microsoft has this exact opportunity available to them, although much of the specifications for hardware may already be locked in to place at this time. However, Microsoft sits at a slight disadvantage now that Sony has announced their console as they have to attempt to live up to the hype that the PlayStation 4 has received. Currently, there are no plans or schedule for Microsoft’s announcement of the new Xbox at this time.
This is obviously a big time for video games, as with entering any new generation of technology is. And with the age-old rivalry of PlayStation vs. Xbox still alive and kicking, there is a large split in between those who feel that the announcement of the PlayStation 4 was very exciting to those that think it was extremely underwhelming. Luckily, there is still plenty of time between now and the PlayStation 4’s release this holiday season, so many things can change. In fact, in the past day, Sony has already announced that the rumor of the PlayStation 4 not supporting used games is false and that they are looking into potential for players to be able to still play their old PlayStation games again on the new console. No matter what opinions people have and what has and hasn’t been said, it can’t be denied that there is an excitement in the air around video game lovers of all kinds as we move into a new generation of gaming.