We are now within a day of Sony revealing the first ever official details of the upcoming 2013 launch of the PlayStation 4. What should we expect to hear Sony reveal at their New York Press Event?
Sony was late to the party by over a year when the PlayStation 3 launched in 2005 at a very high price of $499 (Smaller Hard Drive, No Memory Card readers, and no Backwards compatibility) & $599 (Premium with all features) for the launch units. This was much higher than the Xbox 360 launch, in 2004, of $299 (No Hard Drive) and $399 (With Hard Drive).
Sony will be getting the PlayStation 4 out the door, in 2013, at a price point of $399.99 in North America. While there still could be a higher priced, premium, unit that runs $50 to $100 more, it does appear Sony learned their lesson from the last generation. With Nintendo already launching the Wii U in two pricing configurations, will the trend of consoles releasing in multiple SKUs continue? I for one hope Sony takes the initiative to release a single unit.
Sony has historically placed the biggest and best processor inside every single PlayStation unit they have ever launched. In fact, the PS3 was so expensive, at launch, due to the high-priced processor that third-party developers never fully embraced. Sony will be using almost identical hardware that Microsoft is using in their next console. Rumored to be an 8-Core AMD Jaguar, based on their Bobcat chipsets, running at only 1.6 GHz, this will pale in comparison to what PC gamers can currently run with an Intel 770K Ivy Bridge Core i7.
With Sony and Microsoft using the same CPU, the PS4 will hope to outperform Microsoft's new console with more powerful graphics via the GPU with more VRAM. Microsoft will lean towards more system RAM and less VRAM.
This should mean that Developers will be free to easily develop software on both PlayStation 4 and Xbox 720. Another benefit of this news is games could easily be ported to the more powerful PC platform. But with Valve's Steambox, will Sony and Microsoft move to more platform exclusive games to keep competing games off the PC platform?
Sony also will be utilizing the Gaikai service they purchased last year for backwards compatibility of PlayStation 3 titles. The way this service should work is all titles purchased via the PlayStation Network will be playable over the streaming service. This means an Internet connection will be required. The question unknown is how Blu-ray PlayStation 3 games can be played on the new PlayStation 4. The best gamers can hope for is they can place their disk in the PS4, verifying ownership, and then the Gaikai servers can stream the content as long as the disk stays in the drive.
I personally feel disked based PS3 games won't be backwards compatible and only games purchased via PSN will be available to play on PlayStation 4. This mirrors what Sony did with the PlayStation Vita. If Sony goes this route, expect more digital copies of games being made available at various price points throughout the life of the new console.
Sony attempted to create a new controller with the original reveal of the PlayStation 3. The public outcry was so loud Sony scrapped those plans and pretended they were just a prototype. This time around, Sony will keep the same basic form factor of the DualShock 3 and incorporate a touch screen on the device. This will allow for video to be seen and various buttons being added based on the software run.
Expect Sony to also ready the PlayStation 4 for media services. Could we see the new PlayStation functioning as a DVR? Will PS4 steam content, including games, to the PlayStation Vita? Will Sony hold off on these types of features until E3 2013? We aren't entirely sure of this. But we do expect the new PlayStation to feature a Blu-ray drive so it will continue playing your library of HD movies.
Microsoft is rumored to be completely blocking used and loaned games by tying them to your console and Xbox Live account. Sony was rumored to be working on blocking access to used games as well. With the heavy cries from the gaming community, will Sony be able to go through with blocking used games? I see Sony going with two possible paths:
The First path, which is preferred, is Sony will do nothing about used games. They will continue to operate their business like they have since the start of the PlayStation platform. Users will be able to play their used or loaned software or purchase new disks at retail.
The second path, which might be expected, is Sony will seek a middle ground in blocking used and loaned software. Users will be prompted to enter a code to play their games. If they do not have a code, a license fee of $4.99 to $19.99 will be charged to unlock the right to play software not purchased new. Sony will give the Publisher 70% of the revenue.
I really hope Sony goes with the First Path and doesn't even discuss the used game market with the PlayStation 4. This seems to make the most sense as they feel the business is moving towards purchase digital games that can't be resold.
One thing is certain, we have a new PlayStation being announced tomorrow and you will be able to get your hands on it in 2013. Expect Sony to not reveal a specific date until E3 2013--when they can assure a release before the new Xbox console.
[PS4 Images used in this article are not official.]