PS4 real? Making sense of the Playstation 4

PS4 image from Kotaku

The future of gaming is just around the corner, or so they say: the Playstation 4 has finally been announced. Yesterday, Twitter and the wider web was buried under an avalanche of excitement and speculation (well, the bits of it not already knee-deep in the BRIT Awards) – so much information, it was just too much to take in. Especially when the console itself was nowhere to be seen.

Luckily the commentators of the gaming world were on hand to interpret the hyperbole and give us a realistic impression of what to expect. 

The PlayStation 4, as you’d expect for a seven-years-later follow-up, has impressively bumped specs:

  • An eight-core X86 AMD Jaguar CPU
  • 1.84-teraflop AMD Radeon graphics engine (with “18 compute units”)
  • 8GB of GDDR5 memory
  • Hard-drive storage (not SSD)
  • Blu-ray drive
  • Three USB 3.0 ports
  • 802.11 b/g/n Wi-Fi
  • Ethernet, HDMI, Bluetooth 2.1, optical audio and analog AV out

CNet

Its main thing is, apparently, that it promises a reduction in the lag issues that plague other consoles.

“Imagine you’re in the store, checking out the latest titles and you see something that catches your eye. No problem! You can simply press the X button to hop in and start playing the game.”

‘OK. So you hop in and start playing. How much do you have to pay? For how long can you play before the console asks you to pay full price?

Note that Perry said absolutely nothing about pricing here—and in fact, costs weren’t mentioned at all last night. While we didn’t expect specifics on the PS4’s pricing, we did report earlier this week that most of the PS4’s online features will require a premium subscription.

My question is: will you be able to pay for access to a wide library of streaming games, or are we just talking about glorified demos? When Perry says you can just press X and start playing, just what does that mean? Let’s stay a bit skeptical about this one.’

Kotaku: Sony’s Wildest Plans For The PS4: How Likely Are They?

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“Unified memory is definitely a good thing. I think they’ve made some really smart decisions that are going to make it a very easy console to program for and take full advantage of.”

Bethesda’s Pete Hines talks to Gametrailers.

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That’s the deal-maker quote for me, right there (if I was in the market for a console, of course – I’m still perfectly happy with the 360). The PS3 was way out front in spec terms, but the 360 punched above its weight, especially with the clever programming on the likes of Rage. The issue for me was always that because the PS3 is harder to program, the best games come out on the 360 and work better on the 360 because the developers aren’t constantly fighting against the architecture.

Then again, I suppose, there are other restrictions like memory limitations and trying to cram everything onto one DVD.

All night we heard about lofty ideas behind the development of the new console, but as the hours of demos and introductions dragged on, it became increasingly obvious that we weren’t actually going to see the PlayStation 4. Not yet. All this talk about “the coming months” and “this year” is really depressing. Sony either isn’t ready for primetime, or Sony thinks the best way to get us interested is to play hard to get.

Gizmodo

The basic “killer app” feature is that it auto-records chunks of you playing so that you can upload your bloopers and walkthroughs to share with the wider world.

Other than that [Sharing feature], what Sony showed on PS4 wasn’t that dissimilar to what it already has on PS3, which makes one wonder why the average consumer would be enticed into upgrading. While Sony talked up the advanced new technology that forms the backbone of the machine, the games just looked like your average triple-A PlayStation 3 effort. And most of them were in the same franchises: Killzone. Infamous. Many new games, like Bungie’s Destiny and Blizzard’s Diablo III, will be launched on both PS3 and PS4, the developers said on stage.

Wired

So, having a “traditional” console with a closely integrated Cloud gaming aspect enabled Sony to push users increasingly to the disk free future by slowly incentivising them to move to gaming in the cloud, thus cutting everyone but the publisher and Sony out of the gaming pie and eliminating that pesky second hand market in one fell swoop!

Spong

Much as I’m generally pro-Cloud computing, and it was a relief when I did suffer a hard-drive failure and was able to recover 99% of my music collection through Amazon and iTunes’s backup service, I don’t have a stable enough internet connection to want to be wholly reliant on it. We’re already too dependent on Netflix in our house – it has almost entirely replaced normal television viewing – so when the internet goes down (as it does far too regularly in our little corner of the swamp), it’s a real problem. No Netflix for TV, no Steam for games, no Xbox Live.

There’s already too much of an assumption that people will shell out in the high hundreds for equipment – HD televisions, fancy peripherals, etc. – and it’s one that smacks of arrogance.

I own a PS3, an Xbox 360, three computers, two iPads, a handful of iPods and I’ve had one of every iPhone except the 5. I have a 55″ LED TV, and a 120″ HD Projector. Around my house are scattered liberally BlueTooth this’s and WiFi thats. I read Stuff and T3 as if they were holy doctrine (I never read holy doctrine, so maybe that’s a bad analogy). New technology to me is like chocolate coated crack dusted with mint meth. Basically, if it’s got a blue LED on it, I’ll buy it. Unless it runs Android.

– Spong

Back-of-an-envelope guess? At least £10,000 – a fair whack towards the deposit on a house, or paying off your student loan, or any of the other myriad things that most reasonable people would spend ten grand on that isn’t overpriced toys for spoilt man-children.

Yes, I get that different people have different priorities, and I’m not about how to dictate how you spend your hard-earned cash … just as long as you don’t dictate how I spend mine. I’m already annoyed at how many games assume that everyone has an HD television when clearly everybody does not. It’s easier to forgive now that our non-HD set is about eight years old, but six years ago I thought it was a ridiculous, and rather rude, assumption on the part of developers because back then it really was an early-adopters thing, and I associate that attitude with designer-label snobbery. I’m actually kind of dreading getting an HD-TV because it will show up all the flaws in my favourite films – like suddenly the CGI in Jurassic Park will look crass and obvious rather than ZOMGRAPTORGAAAAH!

I digress.

But the new PlayStation will have a difficult time, like the character in Killzone who was shooting at the people in the helicopter while hanging from the helicopter. Sales of consoles from all makers peaked in 2008, when about 55 million units were sold, according to the research firm I.D.C. By last year, that was down to 34 million.

NY Times

And that’s the big problem with this assumption from developers that people will happily shell out thousands for the pleasure of playing with their toys: that the minute we face financial pressures in real life, entertainment is one of the first things we cut back on. Yes, I still buy games, but only at a fraction of the rate I did five years ago, and we’d certainly not replace the console until the one we’ve got is fully six feet under.

Really looking forward to see what the next Xbox brings to the table. More so then I did a couple hours ago. @jbarraud

– Twitter

That about sums it up for me – why the PS4 release is fascinating even if I currently have no interest in owning one. Whatever one manufacturer does, the other feels compelled to compete against, so it’s always great to see what new, great features are being touted even if they’re not perfectly implemented. Whether the PS4 turns out to be the new Dreamcast or the new PS2 remains to be seen, but it will be very, very interesting to see what the other console-makers do in reaction to this, and to see where we’ll find ourselves when the festive sales begin.

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