My Thoughts on Sony's PS4 Announcement

Bill Loguidice's picture

DualShock 4DualShock 4Though some were no doubt disappointed in Sony's PS4 announcement for every reason from general ennui with the whole videogame thing to a passionate allegiance to a competing platform, I fail to see how any real videogame enthusiast can come away anything but impressed at the promise of it all. The keyword of course is "promise," since everything sounds great on paper, but we don't really know how much will be executed how soon (and how well), nor did we have an actual appearance by the apparently camera-shy console itself. You can find many summaries of what Sony did unveil online, including a good one by PlayStation Universe, but I'll try to cover some of the high level highlights.

First off, the name. Many of us expected both Sony and Microsoft to do away with the whole numbering of their consoles business with their respective next gen systems, but - and this is ultimately not surprise considering Sony's recent focus on its young, but rich videogame history - PS4 it is. Second, the release window is targeted to holiday 2013. No real surprise there either, and it's all but a lock for Microsoft to follow suit. Next, was the impressive third party support, something that Nintendo focused on with the Wii U, but something that their third parties have not really followed through on, and a situation that may not greatly improve. It's all but a lock Sony's third party software supporters will follow through, with titles like Diablo III and Destiny already making strong statements. Rounding out the solid, but unremarkable stuff was an evolved DualShock controller, better Kinect-like camera (PlayStation 4 Eye), suspend mode (to put the system to sleep, but immediately pick up right where you left off when you come back), new Windows 8-like interface, and a beefy processor, graphics card, and memory system. That all translates to real-time performance similar to a high end PC--at least based on the quality of the demos shown.

Of course, the most impressive part to me was Sony's streaming and social integration, and this is the part that will be hardest to follow through on, but could be a genuine difference maker. Powered by Gaikai, the PS4 will be a streaming powerhouse, able to stream updates, demos, and even games (the issue of backwards compatibility of course can be handled in this manner as well), instantly. In other words, no more waiting minutes to hours for an update or anything else to come through because you can play the stream as it downloads. This streaming technology and extra processing power will also allow instant recording and sharing of gameplay (to Facebook, YouTube, etc.), with the ability for others to spectate in real-time, and even jump in and take control if you want them to. Besides smartphone and tablet integration, you can also stream PS4 games in real-time to the Vita, which is a direct stab at replicating one of the Wii U's most compelling features, and may yet save the struggling handheld.

Again, we don't know how well all that will work in principal, plus we have no images of the final console, nor pricing, though Sony has promised regular information updates. I think if Sony can deliver on most of the stated features at launch and get the price point to what the Wii U currently sells for, they should have a hit on their hands and reverse the poor showings of the last three videogame system launches (3DS, Vita, and Wii U). Goodness knows this industry could use an instant success, something I've lamented in another recent blog post. Obviously, if the price comes in too high or too many of the stated features fail to materialize in a timely manner (a la most of Nintendo's TVii features), then that would leave only Microsoft to help our industry save some face in the short term.

What did you guys think of Sony's showing? I'd love to hear your thoughts, so sound off in the comments.



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Bill Loguidice
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Sony
clok1966 wrote:

as for me.. I might say they promised the world, can they deliver (i question this) and keep a price we can pay? Sony cant do the $599 thing again in my opinion..

Delivering on this is key, but at least the promises they're making are good ones. The best part is the instant access stuff, including downloading in the background unattended and automatically. I also agree that they need to come in at the Wii U's current highest price point in at least one good configuration. They can go higher, but only on a truly stellar bundle, including perhaps one that comes with a Vita since you can play all the games on that as well. That would be a killer combo.

I also agree that the look of the PS4 is irrelevant. It's going to be a box with stuff in it, so it doesn't matter that we won't see it until e3. How shiny, small, and refined it is is more or less irrelevant. I'm sure it will look decent, regardless, but it's what it does that matters in the end.

I'm anxious to see Microsoft's offering in April. I can't imagine what they'll do at this point. It's wide open.

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clok1966
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time will tell
Bill Loguidice wrote:

I'm anxious to see Microsoft's offering in April. I can't imagine what they'll do at this point. It's wide open.

"you see what the PS4 can do? We do all that... better, and have HALO!" should sum it up :) heheh I'm very interested in the Used game thing as it all started with MS (or am i wrong).. and if they address it at all right now.

Sony's "it will play used games" was a PR goldmine.. and so easy... You push 75% of your content out digital.. and maybe 25% physical.. who cares if some part of that 25% is resold.. that was pure PR speak and is almost a non issues.. but the public wont read it quite that way.

Bill Loguidice
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Used games
clok1966 wrote:

Sony's "it will play used games" was a PR goldmine.. and so easy... You push 75% of your content out digital.. and maybe 25% physical.. who cares if some part of that 25% is resold.. that was pure PR speak and is almost a non issues.. but the public wont read it quite that way.

Actually, there's still some debate about Sony's stance, believe it or not. It's still an open question. I still think however it turns out, it won't be a huge issue either way, despite the vocal minority. We practically have that situation now. Again, if it is ultimately implemented, it will likely be on a per publisher basis (a flag), nothing more. There are still too many stores to keep happy for now.

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clok1966
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Ah i see you are right.. SOny

Ah i see you are right.. SOny USA head Jack Tretton said it will.. but i see he also mentioned SONY japan wont necessarily see it that way..

I wont buy any if it wont play used games.. NO maybes.. dont matter if its the second coming of consoles..

its a bit strange.. the VITA, 3DS and WII -U are the first systems i haven't bought.. and i was so close on VIta for $99 with 4 games (used) the other day... I think .. man its sad to say.. I may be done with consoles(depending) and traditional Handhelds..

Bill Loguidice
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Used?
clok1966 wrote:

I wont buy any if it wont play used games.. NO maybes.. dont matter if its the second coming of consoles..

But again, we buy games now that have single use multiplayer (if you want to activate it on a used game, you need to pay extra), and services like Steam where you can't resell what you buy. How would such a thing - assuming it were implemented, of course - really be that different from what we're already used to?

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clok1966
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Before you read this.. I do

Before you read this.. I do feel DIGITAL and HARD copy are two different things.. and I AM ONLY talking hard copies.. the who digital used thing is .. well a whole new ball of wax and takes much more discussion.. I do feel I should be able to sell it used too.. but how? and how to keep it honest I don't know. SO for this discussion im just talking hard copies.

I really don't have a problem with them finding a way to make NEW games more attractive (dlc only for new owners, etc) and makeing used games less attractive. But as soon as they tell me how I can use the HARDWARE im buying, I wont do it. I KNOW i come off a little on the Far side of even thinking when it comes to Apple.. but its the same reason, APPLE makes a damn fine product.. but when they became the morality police for me I said no. They control the app store .. they control what apps are on it. When the stop virus, maleware, etc.. I have no issues, they are trying to protect me from harmful stuff.. but when they decided a boob, or a fart app is a no go.. again, i drew the line and wont support them. They started making decisions for me.. I sure wont pay um for that.

I cant think of anything you cant buy used.. cars.. music.. cloths.. books.. PC's.. heck you can buy day old bread.. how is software different? I would think software is much like books and music.. an item it took somebody lots of time to produce but is only tangible in a very small way physically ..A books value isnt in the paper, but the reading. Music value is not int he plastic cd, but in the sound.. Softwares value is not in the box and dvd, but the fun you have. If you can tell me a reason other then BECAUSE WE CAN.. You don't think car manufactures would love if we could only buy new cars? If we could only buy NEW CD's.. I may be wrong, but isn't software about the only product that thinks it can do this?

I know they own the licences to make games for there platforms.. and they can do as they see fit.. I'm just shocked anybody would think a game is worth changing the retail model for.. I know retail has to think long and hard right now on how to change to be relevant .. with digital and such.. but giving us less is not the answer. And I feel real bad if some gaming could change that.. Especially when there are so many gaming devices that don't follow this (if it happens).

If they could back it up with piracy or, stealing, or some way it harms them.. but they cant.. we make less money because they buy used? every single tangible good on the planet is this way, and has been since people decided items had value .. what makes them special and they should warrant a different model?

I may see it wrong, but the reason this is happening is they see gamestop and such paying $5 for a game and selling it for $35... gamestop is making more money on a used game then they are on a new one, and like every cry baby.. they don't like that they didn't think of it first. They want a piece of that pie.. they where satisfied with NEW game sales.. till they seen used game sales... the kid with cake.. loves it and is happy.. till he sees the kid beside him with cake and ice cream..

if they want to say NO DLC for you, Because you didn't buy it new.. 100% fine with that.. IF they want to say.. $10 more for that DLC if you bought it used.. again, no problems.. if they say NO PLAY if used.. I say NO WAY.. and vote with my wallet. In the end they have the right to do as they feel.. but I'm of the opinion they cant think they are so special they can change how something I PAID for works.. Nobody else does. I wont pay somebody (especially an entertainment product) to make decisions for me.

and i just thought of something you cant buy used... a stand up comedy show , or a sit down view of a movie.. (but you could sell the ticket to either, and dont talk about scalping (that is charging more then cover price... Its not illigal to sell it at normal price)). and all the stuff above i talk about has some physical part..

Shawn Delahunty
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Good thoughts all round, but I'm still not swayed

There are some really good thoughts being hashed out here.... especially the bits about "Used Games". As anyone who's read my blog (which has sadly been neglected for months now... sorry, I've got updates coming...) will know, I have a real problem with:

  • DRM of any form
  • the notion of software as a service and not a product
  • the arrogance of companies in shoving these down consumer's throats

I also have a real problem trusting Sony. (The audio-CD root-kit debacle--which purportedly nearly got them banned from the US after the infection hit thousands of DoD computers, the repeated hacking of PSN, the removal of the Linux option after advertising it as a feature on the PS/3, the removal of backwards-compatibility...)

Now I grant you, the claimed hardware specs for the console are pretty nice, but putting them into a locked/closed/undocumented console makes me think: Why don't I just spend my money on a new high-end PC workstation? At least with a PC, I can upgrade various parts, experiment as I choose, and so on. There certainly aren't a dearth of games for the PC, despite the seemingly ever-present "Prognosticators of the Doom of Games on the PC!"

I do anticipate one bright side to the release of the console, for me anyways... with Sony choosing the PC-based architecture, the porting to an "actual PC" should be trivial for game-dev studios now. I'm seriously hoping that there will be a bigger push to port any new console games to the PC, rather than making them "PS/4 Only Releases". I'm perfectly happy sticking a USB gamepad into one of my PC's, if the control-scheme is laid out for that

As for the "Social" side of things, that's pretty much wasted on a curmudgeonly old fart like myself. (Yes, I'm in my early 40's.) I'd really rather play with friends who are sitting on my couch, eating pizza, pausing the game, and talking face-to-face. I've done a tiny bit of on-line gaming with some friends on a COD server, but really prefer in-person interactions.

On the flip-side, I do have to admit that I'm intrigued by the option to play PS Vita games too.... that certainly gives me food for thought. I'm not really a "portable gamer", but there have been a few game releases on the Vita which caught my eye in the past. So being able to "take a game with me to another room" is intriguing.

So I'm not exactly sitting on the fence here, but I am occasionally still peeking over it to see if Sony will come up with something that will sway me.

-Shawn

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Matt Barton
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There's only a few options

There's only a few options for funding software development that make any sense to me. I think it's pretty clear to most of us that DRM and efforts to prevent piracy via force (whether copy protection, litigation, or social pressure) just doesn't work. At best, these are stop-gap measures, keeping the honest people honest and so on.

Instead, I see three viable alternatives to the traditional software publisher model:

Software as service. We're all familiar with this model thanks to WOW and STEAM.

Crowdfunding. I think this is a great way to go. Instead of making money by selling copies, you collect all the money upfront, make the game, and release it for free. The upside of this is that a free release of a brilliant game will just about guarantee massive word of mouth advertising for your next project. You could also continue crowdfunding for DRM expansions and the like.

Tangibles. Similar to above, except instead of collecting money upfront, you make money by selling physical extras like boxes, t-shirts, printed manuals, or other niceties to complement the game. I think there's some possibilities here especially for special controllers. If you had a game that required or significantly benefited from a special patented controller, you wouldn't care so much if people pirated it (hell, you'd probably WANT them to).

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ruthan
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no CD audio support + price

As i said, they are trying dose technology progress, like big brother (there already using doublethink).. no audio cd supper (Kotaku today), great.

Price i think that is pretty clear that price will be $399+, maybe few different version with bigger HDD (unlikely) and maybe some retail model with backwards compatibility around 599$ ((unlikely, it would be great)

Who: Brujah Zealot, the pimp of babylons bitch. / Location: Scorched heart of Europe. // Sorry for my moldavian sort of english, i have 2 possibilities, to be silent or try to say something +look like idiot..

Bill Loguidice
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PS4
ruthan wrote:

Price i think that is pretty clear that price will be $399+, maybe few different version with bigger HDD (unlikely) and maybe some retail model with backwards compatibility around 599$ ((unlikely, it would be great)

It's unlikely there will be a backwards compatible model, even at a higher price, since they'd have to embed the equivalent of a PS3 in there. They'll offer backwards compatibility via streaming, otherwise this is a complete technological break from the past, and not enough of a leap to effectively software emulate a PS3. Streaming eliminates all of those issues, save for, apparently, letting you access what you already own on PSN, which is likely more of a business decision than a technical one.

There has always been the battle between the convenience of backwards compatibility and the benefits that a clean technological break offers. I'm actually glad Sony is trying the clean break route as it may serve them well as they look to thrive in this coming generation. This is in direct contrast to what Nintendo did, which is basically offer a complete Wii inside the Wii U (sans the GameCube support of the early generations of Wiis), complete with the Wii's menu system embedded and accessible. Though it's not directly related to why the Wii U is struggling from a sales standpoint, it clearly hasn't particularly helped. As for Microsoft, I'm not sure what their stance will be on backwards compatibility, though I suspect they'll be in a similar situation as Sony...

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