PlayStation 4 Specs

Although consumer electronics are as much about software and services these days, lots of people still go gaga over hardware specs. Here are the specs for the PlayStation 4, as per Sony’s press release.

  • Single-chip custom processor — CPU : x86-64 AMD “Jaguar”, 8 cores, GPU : 1.84 TFLOPS, AMD next-generation Radeon based graphics engine
  • Memory — GDDR5 8GB
  • Hard Disk Drive
  • Built-in Optical Drive (read only), BD 6xCAV, DVD 8xCAV
  • Super-Speed USB (USB 3.0)
  • Ethernet (10BASE-T, 100BASE-TX, 1000BASE-T)
  • IEEE 802.11 b/g/n
  • Bluetooth® 2.1 (EDR)
  • AV output
  • HDMI
  • Analog-AV out
  • Digital Output (optical)

Sony PlayStation 4 Launch Event Reactions

Sony just wrapped up its PlayStation 4 launch event and the Internet (mixed) reactions have been fun to read. I want to start my thoughts on the presser by talking about how it ended — new hardware wasn’t shown and price points weren’t announced. A lot of Twitter gamers are pissed about this, but I kind of like what Sony did. In pro-wrestling terms, tonight’s event was an episode of Monday Night Raw; there was no need to send the crowd home happy and it was important to keep fans wanting more. The big announcements will be at E3 2013, which is the videogame business’ WrestleMania; that’s when you make sure the fans go home happy. At the very least, it was a controversial ploy. At best, it’ll have people talking and thinking about the PlayStation 4 for months to come.

Now here are some scattered thoughts based on the notes I took during the press conference. Naturally, I’d love to hear your thoughts on the PlayStation 4 and the games/demos shown when you have a chance.

Our House: The show was led by Sony Computer Entertainment group CEO Andrew House. It was interesting to hear him refer to the PlayStation 4 as a “place” or an entertainment hub, rather than a new piece of hardware. It’s indicative of what today’s consumer electronics have become. They’re not just about hardware. As Apple has shown, people want and will buy an experience fueled by a combination of hardware, software, and services.

The Cerny Method: I was thrilled that Mark Cerny had a prominent role in the show and was announced as the lead system architect for PlayStation 4. I also loved that Cerny acknowledged that the ambitious CELL processor in the PlayStation 3 wasn’t the most developer-friendly and said that the PlayStation 4 architecture will be more accessible: “Our goal was to develop an ecosystem that would facilitate the expression of their ideas.”

Cerny also showed his upcoming game Knack. It’s a platformer featuring a cartoon art style and an adorable — but hugely powerful — robot as the protagonist. A few years ago, he told me that he was working on a new project and I’m thrilled that it has been unveiled. The Twitter reaction to the game was overwhelmingly positive, but keep in mind that most of the people I follow are in the gaming business and many are aware of the awesomely awesomeness that is Mark Cerny.

Having someone like Cerny was really refreshing. He’s crazy smart, but also sincere and real.

Controller: The Dual Shock 4 rumors were on the money. In addition to what was already revealed, the new controller will sport a microphone input for chat, a speaker, and a light bar to easily identify different players. Cerny said that the analog sticks and trigger buttons have been improved and are tighter.

Social: Cerny said that the PS4 will have always-on hardware for video compression and decompression. Gamers can record and share clips through Sony’s new social network. In addition to watching your friends play, “famous” people can share their videogame exploits, allowing for an all-new form of stalking. In addition to accessing the network on a console, gamers can catch up with their gamer friends on the PlayStation Vita, smartphones, tablets, and PCs. Expect a flood of companion apps that extend the gaming experience.

Tech Demos: Visually impressive demos using Unreal Engine 4 and Havok were shown to illustrate the power of the new CPU and GPU. While they were very impressive, it wasn’t surprising. New hardware is supposed to have better graphics and tech demos rarely represent what actual games will be like. I was more interested in the new social features and cloud services (more below).

PlayStation Cloud: Dave Perry took the stage to talk about what Sony’s acquisition of Gaikai would bring to the company’s upcoming cloud services. PlayStation Cloud’s mantra is, “Everything Everywhere.” There are two huge goals for the service. First is to have the majority of every PlayStation, PlayStation 2, and PlayStation 3 game available through the cloud. Second is to have every PlayStation 4 game available on the PlayStation Vita through Remote Play.

One of the neat things about PlayStation 4 is background downloading. You’ll be able to start playing a game shortly after the download starts. The early portion of the game hits your system first, while the rest downloads as you play.

Cerny mentioned that the PlayStation 4 will monitor your game choices and pre-download games that it’ll think you like. The recommendation engine will check out what genres you play and what developers you enjoy. This is a nice touch that will help many gamers connect with new games in a more convenient way.

Perry mentioned that developers will be able to find “expert” players on the cloud and grant them special in-game privileges. This caused my Twitter feed to explode with snarky comments about the PlayStation 4 watching you.

I love where Sony is going with digital downloads and streaming. I’m also going to enjoy watching the flame wars about the PS4 not having backwards compatibility with PS3 discs. Flame on!

First-Party Games: Sony trotted out a bunch of first-party games and demos.
Killzone Shadow Fall — While I respect the Killzone series and this demo looked great, it’s not really my thing. I was a little bored.
Driveclub — This is a team-based racing game, which the developer equated with squad-based shooters. My initial thought was to combine the two in a game called Drive-by Club. It looked sweet and team-based driving should make for a fresh racing experience.
inFamous Second Son — Sucker Punch showed a pretty slick demo of its upcoming action game, but I was laughing at my snarky Twitter friends making comparisons to Marc Ecko’s Getting Up: Contents Under Pressure.
The Witness — From the makers of the critically acclaimed Braid comes a bright and colorful puzzle game. While I was charmed by what was shown, the big deal here is that Sony is being very open and friendly to independent developers that want to self-publish. Making a powerful system that millions of people will own accessible is a marvelous thing that should lead to all kinds of creative games hitting the PS4. I love that Sony is continuing down the road it paved with games like FlowerJourney, and The Unfinished Swan.
David Cage — The head of Quantic Dream showed a tech demo of a very detailed and emotive decapitated head. Again, I’m not big on tech demos. As a Quantic Dream mark, I was disappointed that Cage didn’t have something more tangible to show.
Alex Evans — Media Molecule’s co-founder took the stage to show how the PlayStation Move can be used as a 3D modeling tool. My Twitter feed dogged this demo because it involved Move, but I like what was shown here. Giving gamers powerful and easy-to-use tools to make user-created content is a wonderful thing.

Third-Party Games: Sony had several third-party publishing partners show off games and demos too.
Capcom — Yoshinori Ono showed the Panta Rhei engine and a sweet-looking Medieval game called Deep Down (working title). It was pretty impressive, but my Twitter feed flooded with jokes about Deep Down Panty Raid. A few people assumed that this is the next Dragon’s Dogma game.
Square Enix — CTO Yoshihisa Hashimoto showed an impressive tech demo that used the company’s Luminous engine. It would have been way more impressive if the company hadn’t already shown the demo in June 2012. Final Fantasy brand director Shinji Hashimoto promised that a new Final Fantasy game for PlayStation 4 will be announced at E3 2013. My Twitter feed exploded with hate for the old demo and the announcement of a future announcement.
Ubisoft — Yves Guillemot showed a demo of Watch Dogs, which many people are really high on, but I still don’t get. The visuals are cool, but I have yet to see anything that looks fun to play.
Blizzard — Chris Metzen announced that Diablo III is coming to the PlayStation 3 and PlayStation 4. It will have full-screen four-player cooperative-play. My Twitter feed’s rage meter redlined, but I have no doubt that this “port” of Diablo III will do huge numbers.
Activision — Eric Hirshberg announced that Bungie’s Destiny will be available for PlayStation, which would have been a far bigger deal if it wasn’t already known three days ago.

Final Thoughts: As far as the games go, I’m really psyched for Knack. I’m also intrigued by inFamous: Second Son and Deep Down. That said, I wasn’t terribly excited for most of the announcements. I also would have liked to have seen more new IPs and less tech demos. Really though, this presser was more about the ecosystem. I love that Sony is using an x86 architecture for PlayStation 4, which will make things much easier for developers. I love that Sony is making a big effort with self-publishing for indie devs. I love that Sony found ways to make the PlayStation Vita and PlayStation Move more interesting. As someone that wants to eradicate all the physical media in his apartment, I’m excited for PlayStation Cloud too.

A lot of people are bagging on this presser for not being “Apple” enough, but I can’t think of another consumer electronics company that pulls off press conferences are well as Apple does. I undertand why people are upset — super upset if they didn’t care for the videogames shown — about not seeing the new box and not hearing about the price, but I also understand why Sony didn’t lay all its cards on the table. While it wasn’t perfect, the PlayStation 4 presser has given me a lot to think about. As a verbal entertainer, I have lots of new material to work with.

Now what’s your story? What did you think of the PlayStation 4 press conference?

Bungie’s Destiny: The Straight Scoop

Bungie recently unveiled details on its upcoming MMO space-shooter Destiny. There are loads of previews out there full of hyperbolic preview-y text — so much so that several videogame journalists are having preview-event backlash. (I don’t want to get too into the issue. I believe that readers are thoughtful enough to figure things out on their own.) Thankfully, Gamasutra was at the Destiny event to provide a smart and balanced look at the game. I highly recommend reading the sage words of my former coworker and roommate Christian Nutt. Here’s the Cliffs Notes version:

  • Most of Bungie’s resources are being allocated to Destiny
  • The game is way, way early — Christian pointed out that the press didn’t receive screens or videos, only concept art
  • It’s an MMOFPS (Try pronouncing it. It’s almost as fun as duct tape.)
  • It’s for current and next-gen systems
  • It has several mobile and social features — An iOS app mockup was shown, while the social features of the game were heavily harped on

So please give Christian’s article a read when you get a chance. I believe it’s the best Destiny preview out there, even though it wasn’t written for consumers. After that, please let me know what you think about the game. Would you play an MMOFPS? Do you see yourself using the game’s iOS app? Do you think Destiny will reach Halo heights?


PS4 to Stream PS3 Games Through Gaikai?

The latest PlayStation 4 rumor is that Sony’s upcoming console will stream PlayStation 3 games using Gaikai technology. Some of you will recall that Sony Computer Entertainment purchased Gaikai in July 2012. The Wall Street Journal broke the story, noting that the streaming service will likely be used only for old games. That isn’t to say that new games won’t be available digitally; those will likely require a full download, rather than streaming.

For those of you with large PlayStation 3 videogame libraries, the news is probably disconcerting. The PlayStation 2 and PlayStation 3 offered backwards compatibility with games from the previous generation. Some pundits believe that the PlayStation 4 will not, since it uses a considerably different AMD architecture and many presume that it won’t include a second chipset to support old games (especially if that $400 price point rumor is on the mark).

The answers to numerous PlayStation 4 questions will (again, presumably) be answered on February 20, when Sony has its big press event. Until then, let’s have fun with the WSJ rumor. What do you think of streaming PS3 games on the new console? Is not having PS3 backwards compatibility a deal-breaker for any of you? Also, can you feel that? That’s the heat from the flames of a brewing console war. Fore!!!


PlayStation 4 Dual Shock Controller Images Leak

A pair of images of what’s purported to be the PlayStation 4 Dual Shock controller have leaked. The one below is from Destructoid and the one above is from NeoGAF. Both images show a touch sensor between the d-pad and face buttons, a feature that has been rumored for several weeks. The Destructoid image looks more legit, as the controller can be seen in front of a development kit. The GAF image has the controller on a plain background, which has some people doubting it’s authenticity.

Other features include what appears to be a microphone grille and redesigned analog sticks. The former feature seemed inevitable, but I’m a bit wary of the latter. I’ve always loved the feel of Dual Shock controllers and I’m concerned that the new analog sticks could be a change for the worse. The sticks could also be the hotness, but it appears that they’ll feel more like Xbox 360 analogs than the classic Dual Shock analogs I prefer.

Sony Computer Entertainment is expected to reveal PlayStation 4 details on February 20, so it will only be a few days until these photos are proven to be legit or not. For now, let’s talk about the design. What do you think of the touch sensor? Do you see any interesting gameplay applications for it? How about the microphone? Are you excited or worried about the new analog sticks? Leave your PS4 Dual Shock thoughts in the comments section (please!).

Source 1

Source 2

Xbox Founder Nat Brown on Why Consoles Will Lose

Nat Brown, one of the founders of Microsoft’s Xbox project, posted a long and excellent rant on the Xbox’s shortcomings. He believes that there are major issues with the system’s user experience and the company’s relationship with independent developers. He believes that these issues are why the Xbox is, “going to lose on in the living room battle with Android & iOS.” I highly recommend giving it a read. Here’s an excerpt:

So, because these two critical issues — user expereince and indie content — are not nearly in order and I see big investments in future interactive content happening, as well as idiotic moves to limit used games or put harder content protection into place than exists in mobile or tablets — i predict massive failure and losses here. And it makes me sad. Because it just doesn’t have to fail, even though it has been punted around poorly for 5 years. xBox just needs somebody with a brain and focus to get the product in order tactically before romping forward to continue the long-term strategic promise of an xBox in every living room, connected to every screen.

I’d love to hear your take on Brown’s argument. While I agree that iOS offers a generally superior user experience than Xbox, I was surprised to see him stress the importance of indie content. While I love and appreciate indie games, so many people — both within the business and consumers in general — pay more attention to the Call of DutiesMaddens, etc. I’m thrilled when developers like Giant Sparrow (The Unfinished Swan) and thatgamecompany (Journey) succeed, but I’m also not sure how big a part companies like that play in determining the future of the industry. Sometimes I get the (sad) feeling that people that write about games care exponentially more about indie developers than Joe Gamer does.

Kindly share your thoughts on Nat Brown’s post when you have a chance.


PlayStation 4 to Cost $400?

Remember when the PlayStation 3 launched for $499 (20GB) and $599 (60GB)? Most pundits agree that those prices won’t fly in 2013. The Asahi Shimbun Digital reports that the PlayStation 4 (or whatever it’ll be called) will debut at 40,000 Yen, which converts to just under 428 USD. With that conversion in mind, it’s conceivable that Sony’s next console will launch in America for $399.

Charging big money for new consoles is old hat, but the consumer electronics market is going through some fascinating changes that could put a ceiling on launch prices. Hardware manufacturers are staying away from bleeding-edge silicon and emphasizing services. Smartphones, tablets, and streaming videogame systems (Ouya for $99!) have made $600 gaming systems an iffy proposition for many consumers.

With Nintendo leading this console generation with $299 and $349 systems, I expect Microsoft and Sony to sell for a little bit higher, but certainly not double. Of course the Wii U uses relatively old chips that are more inline with current consoles than the rumored silicon inside its competitors’ upcoming machines. Still, I would be surprised if a $600 console debuted this year. If it happens, it better wash and fold my laundry after I’m done playing games.

What do you think of the $400 PlayStation 4 rumor? Do you think that’s the right price for a new console in 2013? Or do you think we’ll see another $600 machine? How much would you be willing to pay for a new PlayStation or Xbox system?

Source via The Verge

Coffee Talk #564: What Will Win the Next Console War?

The next generation of console wars is nearly here! Nintendo’s Wii U is already available. Sony is expected to announce the next PlayStation later this month. And Microsoft is expected to announce the next Xbox by E3 2013. In the past, hardware and exclusive games shaped the outcome of console wars. More recently, online serves like PlayStation Network and Xbox Live helped determined the outcome. With many people believing that the upcoming batch of hardware will be the end of traditional consoles as we know them, what do you think will…more

Welcome to Coffee Talk! Let’s start off the day by discussing whatever is on your (nerd chic) mind. Every morning I’ll kick off a discussion and I’m counting on you to participate in it. If you’re not feelin’ my topic, feel free to start a chat with your fellow readers and see where it takes you. Whether you’re talking about videogames, last night’s return of Linsanity, PETA going after Beyonce for her Super Bowl outfit, or missing Las Vegas during DICE time, Coffee Talk is the place to do it.

The next generation of console wars is nearly here! Nintendo’s Wii U is already available. Sony is expected to announce the next PlayStation later this month. And Microsoft is expected to announce the next Xbox by E3 2013. In the past, hardware and exclusive games shaped the outcome of console wars. More recently, online services like PlayStation Network and Xbox Live helped determined the outcome. With many people believing that the upcoming batch of hardware will be the end of traditional consoles as we know them, what do you think will determine the next skirmish. More importantly, what features are most important to you?

Some people believe that games will be an afterthought, or at least exclusive games. They believe that all three platforms will have great games, so it’ll be a wash. I somewhat disagree with this stance. While exclusives aren’t as powerful as they used to be, I believe they still shape a console’s identity.

Most pundits agree that pure horsepower isn’t as relevant as it used to be. This is a trend that extends beyond consoles. Generally speaking, consumer electronics have become more about software and services than powerful hardware. One of the reasons that Xbox 360 was more successful than PlayStation 3 was that Xbox Live was much better than PlayStation Network for years. While Sony’s service has improved greatly, some feel that the improvements didn’t come fast enough.

Continuing on the services tip, the social, non-gaming, and premium features of consoles have become hugely important. Many gamers prefer Xbox 360 because that’s the system most of their friends use online. Playing games with friends is almost always more fun than playing with strangers. Some people spend more time using the non-gaming features of consoles more than playing games. Features like streaming video services and video chat are quite popular. Then there are the premium services. Some people feel that PlayStation Plus trounces Xbox Live Gold.

Some journalists are shouting about developer ease-of-use being paramount. That’s certainly an important issue, but some of the writers that are taking this stance have little idea what goes into making a game. Honestly, I’m not sure where this is coming from. It’s one thing for developers to say or write things like this, but journalists that don’t understand game production? Then again, there are a lot of journalists that write long diatribes about what Company X needs to do to turn things around while having no clue about running a business. Personally, I’m going to leave this issue on the table and let smarter people discuss it. Besides, I’m not sure that most gamers care.

So games, hardware power, and online services…. What else is there? What concerns you the most? What features and factors do you think will be most important in the next generation of console wars? Please shout it out in the comments section!

PlayStation 4 Being Announced on February 20?

Sony Computer Entertainment America released a teaser video for an event on February 20, 2013. Most pundits expect the company to unveil the first details on the PlayStation 4 console. What do you think? What do you want from Sony and its next console? In honor of those silly flame wars we used to enjoy together on G4tv’s The Feed, “Fore!!!” Continue reading “PlayStation 4 Being Announced on February 20?”