It'll probably come as no surprise to hear that, last night, Sony officially announced the PlayStation 4 and it'll be arriving "Holiday 2013".
That's right, despite all the rumours, there is no silly name for Sony's new console.
There weren't as many details as some of us would have liked, but what we do know is that the Cell architecture that the PS3 uses is being left behind and the PS4 will be more PC like. Based on x86-64 AMD "Jaguar" 8-core CPU, an AMD "next-generation" Radeon GPU (with 1.84 Teraflops of processing power), 8Gb of GDDR5 unified RAM, local hard disk storage, a Blu Ray optical drive and USB 3.0. This should make development for the PS4 (and cross-development with PCs) a little easier. On the surface it doesn't sound like this really competes with your average gaming PC, but there is a lot to be said for a dedicated architecture.
One interesting new feature was the ability to suspend and resume the console into a lower-power state, using it's RAM, with a single button press. Being able to immediately power up the console and jump back into a game will certainly be a attractive addition.
The recently leaked pictures of the new controller turned out to be genuine and we were treated to a fair amount of detail during the presentation. The DualShock 4 offers lower latency, improved analogue sticks, an enhanced rumble, a headphone jack, a touchpad, a built-in light bar and probably the most important addition... the 'Share' button.
This button is key to a lot of the PS4's features, allowing you to take screenshots and video while you play, or even stream your game to UStream. There was also talk of allowing others to comment on you game in real-time or even take control (or at least 'direct' you).
These features appear to be a result of Sony purchasing Gaikai some time ago and their Cloud gaming solution will play an even bigger role in how you play your games. Dave Perry, CEO of Gaikai, talked about being able to play your games before they were fully downloaded, leaving them to download the rest of the game while you play. He also revealed that you'll be able to play your PS4 titles via your PS Vita, which I'm sure will drive up sales of their handheld device.
As well as integration with the PS Vita, tablets and smartphones were also mentioned with talk of companion apps and a promise to support developers make the most of dual screen playing... looks like the Wii U might end up on the back foot.
Although there was no talk of backwards compatibility, Dave Perry did say that they are working on making every PlayStation 1,2 and 3 titles available via the PlayStation Cloud.
In terms of games, the presentation was fairly light on titles and details. Killzone: Shadowfall, DriveClub and InFamous: Second Son were all shown along with Jonathan Blow's next Indie title, The Witness. There was also talk of supporting developers in producing games the way they want, including free-to-play and episodic gaming.
Several other developers offered promises and tech demos but it was mostly filler. One, rather underwhelming, surprise announcement was Diablo III for the PS4. The reception for Diablo III on PC hasn't been the best but it has still sold rather well... it'll be 'interesting' to see how the "always online" element works with a console. However, Ubisoft's Watch_Dogs was a notable highlight and you'll find the video below.
All in all, the presentation was far longer than was necessary and without the actual hardware on show, or any pricing details, any excitement that the initial announcement generated was gone by the end of the show.
If you're interested, you'll find the official Sony press release here: http://www.scei.co.jp/corporate/release/pdf/130221a_e.pdf
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