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Sunday, February 24, 2013

Video Game News: Sony Offers Details on PlayStation 4

There has been much speculation about the hardware, capabilities, and playability of the PlayStation 4 from Sony. The system, said to be up for release by holiday season this year, was revealed at a Sony event in New York City this evening.

The four tenets of the PlayStation 4 system are: simple, immediate, social, personalized. "Simplicity meant the powerful functionality is just a button press away," said Mark Cerny, system architect from Sony.

Immediacy, because "speed is also important." Press the power button to put the console to sleep. It still stays on and keeps the game in pause and ready to play. The sleep mode also allows the console to download games and content in the background.  The sleeping system can also respond to remote access from a cell phone or the PlayStation Vita.

The system is social. The controller has a "share" button, which lets users share video and other content instantly. "There's no doubt that 'play' is no longer an isolated task," said Cerny.

The Specs


The PlayStation 4 is said to be built around a "supercharged PC," according to Cerny, who said the PlayStation 4 system has been five years in the making. The system will be based on an x86 CPU with an enhanced PC GPU, and 4GB unified memory with additional HDD storage on board.

Few details beyond hints at the processor were given in the press briefing. Sony didn't mention if there would be an optical media drive such as a Blu-ray. It only mentioned that games would be available via download.

The Controller

The wireless DualShock 4 takes a cue from its predecessor. The key differences are an added track pad, share button, headphone jack, and a built-in sensor that acts as a motion device via a stereo camera with 3D positioning.

Details on the touch pad weren't widely discussed. The feature that was hyped at the event is the share button. Gamers will be able to record video of their gameplay and press the share button to instantly post video to their social network or other platform to share with their network of friends.


The PlayStation 4 DualShock 4 controller has a touch pad, share button and headphone jack

"Our goal is to make the sharing of video as important in the PlayStation 4 gameplay as the sharing of screenshots with current systems," said Cerny.

The PlayStation 4 will be equipped to handle those uploads. The Sony PlayStation 4 is constructed to handle compression and decompression, which means it allows seamless uploading and downloading. That includes uploads of screenshots and gameplay video, and downloads of full game titles - which can be played while they are being downloaded, or downloaded while other games are being played.

The Download

Sony acquired cloud-based game service Gaikai, this past year, and quickly integrated the service to sit at the heart of the PlayStation 4 system. Gaikai allows games to be downloaded, and to be played while downloading. The service also offers a recommendation engine that learns a gamer's preferences, and makes recommendations for new games in the catalog.

Gaikai allows for a try-before-you-buy experience. Most games will be available to test before downloading the full version, and before paying.

"With Gaikai, in the PlayStation store, you'll be able to instantly experience anything," said Dave Perry, CEO of Gaikai. "Try it for free, share if you like it, and pay only for the games you love."

Once a download is initiated, impatient gamers can begin playing even before the bar reaches complete. That is one of the advantages of the cloud-based download system.

The Games

While hardware was breezed over, and Sony didn't show even a glimpse of the console, it did march a stream of game developers on stage. Most notably, it acquired commitments from a few developers who are new or returning to consoles. Blizzard was among those developers, and announced the upcoming release of Diablo for the PlayStation 4 and PlayStation 3.

Activision's new property Bungie also announced it would release Destiny for the upcoming console. Other developers on board include Capcom, Square Enix, Activision, Epic, Namco Bandai, Rockstar Games, Ubi Soft, 505 Games, Tecmo Koei, Disney, 2K Games, and a number of other publishers and developers.

Sony confirmed that the PlayStation 4 will be released for holiday 2013. It did not give specific dates or pricing details for the U.S., European or Japanese release of the system.

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