Note: This post was first published on March 4, 2013.
The Sony PlayStation 4, the next-generation video game console, was officially announced on February 20th. This unveiling followed the launch of the Wii U on November 18th of the previous year.
However, the announcement left many PlayStation enthusiasts wanting more. Notably, the design of the console itself was not revealed.
Despite this, the announcement did provide some insights into the new features and robust specifications of the PS4. The focus of the new console appears to be on cloud gaming, shared gaming experiences, and innovative methods of game interaction.
Below is a rundown of 10 key points you should know about the PS4:
1. Enhanced Hardware Specifications
Sony has provided a concise overview of the hardware features that the PS4 will offer:
- A specially designed single-chip processor by AMD
- An eight-core “Jaguar” 64-bit x86 CPU
- 8GB of exclusive GDDR5 system memory, offering 176GB/second of bandwidth
- A cutting-edge AMD Radeon-based GPU
- Built-in storage hard disk drive and the latest USB 3.0 ports
- A promise of high-quality graphics and performance, rivaling most gaming PCs in the market
If these technical specifications sound like gibberish to you, consider the incredible games that can be developed with such high-end hardware. Here are some trailers and gameplay videos for what are believed to be the launch titles:
Spotlight on Ubisoft’s Watch Dogs
Focus on Bungie’s Destiny
2. No Price Tag Yet
As of now, Sony has not revealed the full hardware specifications or the pricing details for the PS4. However, Sony’s president, Mr. Shuhei Yoshida, has given a hint about the pricing strategy:
“Our architectural choices for the PS4 have eliminated the need for dedicated factories, which helps us offer the console at an affordable price.”
The PlayStation 3 debuted at a price range of US$500-600 in 2006. Given the current market conditions, including casual gaming on smartphones and stiff competition from other next-gen consoles like the Wii U and the upcoming Xbox, Sony is likely still deciding on the PS4’s final price.
3. Swipes, Lights, and Sharing
The PS4’s new controller, the DualShock 4, has several notable upgrades. The most apparent changes are its elongated, rounded handles and a new touchpad located above the toggle sticks.
This touchpad is a two-point capacitive pad with a click mechanism, offering a new interactive gaming experience.
Additionally, a light bar at the top of the controller features three LEDs for multiplayer modes. These lights serve multiple purposes, such as player identification and status indication, and work in conjunction with the console’s built-in cameras, the PlayStation 4 Eye, to offer motion-sensing capabilities.
Lastly, the controller has been equipped with a new six-axis sensor and features an Option button that combines the Select and Share functions. There’s also a Share button and a built-in speaker and stereo headset jack for enhanced audio effects.
4. Enhanced Motion-Sensing Controls
The future of gaming seems to be leaning towards motion-sensing controls. This trend is evident from the popularity of earlier devices like the Wii Remote, Xbox 360 Kinect, and PlayStation Move.
This time, the PS4 introduces a new camera device. It features a pair of highly sensitive cameras with wide-angle lenses that have an 85-degree diagonal angle view. These cameras can accurately measure the depth of space around the players.
Additionally, these high-end cameras enable face recognition for logging in to the console. The device also includes four microphones to accurately detect sounds and their sources. These features enhance player engagement through body movements and voice commands.
The PlayStation 4 Eye not only supports the PlayStation Move controller but also detects its motion more precisely than its predecessor, the PlayStation Eye for PS3. This is further enhanced by the newly installed lights on the controller for better player positioning.
5. Play While You Update
The PS4 offers a feature similar to your smartphone and tablet, allowing you to resume your last game session right where you left off. This is made possible by the “suspend mode,” a low-power state that reduces the time needed to boot the console, load the game, and access your saved game.
This “immediate gameplay” feature also allows the game to be updated while you are playing. This means new features can be added as soon as they are downloaded and installed in the background. Even better, you can start playing a game before its digital title has fully downloaded.
6. Second Screens
In my previous article, Future of Gaming: 5 Exciting Emerging Trends, I discussed the potential of secondary screens in gaming. The PS3’s integration with PlayStation Vita through Cross-Play confirmed this trend. It allows players to pause a game on one device and continue on another.
With the PS4, the game-changing feature is the ability to stream an entire game from the console to PS Vita over Wi-Fi. Sony aims to make most PS4 titles compatible with PS Vita, except for camera-based games. This “remote play” feature is enabled by Sony’s acquisition of Gaikai cloud technology.
Additionally, Sony has developed a new “PlayStation App” for Apple and Android devices. This app allows your handheld device to act as a secondary screen during gameplay.
For example, while playing a game on your TV, you can use your smartphone to display an in-game map. Other functionalities include buying and downloading games remotely and watching live gameplay of other players online.
Image Source: The Verge
7. Cloud Gaming
Sony’s recent acquisition of Gaikai, a cloud-based gaming service, has fueled speculation about cloud gaming features in the upcoming PS4. Indeed, Sony confirmed that the PlayStation Network (PSN) will utilize Gaikai’s cloud technology.
This integration allows gamers to play high-end games instantly, without worrying about their device’s hardware limitations. The games are rendered on remote servers and then streamed to connected devices.
This service gives players the freedom to try premium games before making a purchase. You can even stream a friend’s game and take over the gameplay. However, a fast internet connection is essential for a smooth experience.
8. No Backward Compatibility
Unfortunately, the PS4 does not support backward compatibility in the native sense. This means you can’t play your existing PS3 games on the new console, either from physical discs or digital downloads.
However, Sony plans to build a PlayStation library through Gaikai, offering an extensive catalog of over 3000 PS3 titles. This library will eventually include PS1 and PS2 games as well.
9. Games in Digital Format
Following the PS Vita’s lead, all PS4 games will be available for digital download. Sony aims to offer a variety of pricing strategies, such as subscription models and different membership levels. This is made possible through Sony’s new Gaikai cloud-streaming technology, which will offer unique subscription packages to gamers. While the specifics of these packages are not yet known, it’s likely that physical discs will eventually become obsolete.
10. Sharing Made Simple
The new Share button on the PS4 controller makes sharing gameplay easier than ever. Simply press the button to record the last few minutes of your game and upload it to social media platforms like Facebook.
You can continue playing your game while the upload happens in the background, eliminating the need for separate recording devices and video compression.
Aside from Facebook, the PS4 also integrates with live streaming services like UStream. This allows gamers to broadcast their gameplay in real-time, enabling friends to comment via live chats. If your friends see you struggling, they can even join your game to help out. In extreme cases, a ‘hand-holding’ feature allows a remote user to take control of your game and guide you through challenging levels.
Many questions remain unanswered, such as the cost of the console, online service pricing, confirmed game titles for launch, the exact release date, and the final appearance of the console. With the PS4 set to release by year’s end, these key details will be revealed in the coming months.