As expected, Sony has announced the PlayStation 4 (PS4), the successor to the PlayStation 3 at its PlayStation Meet event in New York. In terms of pure hardware firepower, the PS4 brings an 8-core x86 CPU providing 2 teraflops of computational performance, a PC style high performance GPU, a HDD and 8GB of DDR5 RAM. Additionally, the PS4 features the Dual-Shock 4 controller, which also has a touch-pad similar to the one seen on the PlayStation Vita, a light bar to identify players that will be tracked via a 3D camera on the PS4. While all this is good Sony did not show the console itself, neither did it announce any pricing, but said it was coming in the holiday season of 2013.
This is just the tip of the iceberg because the real innovation comes in terms of the user experience. The PS4 will start of with a completely revamped user interface. Users will be able to suspend a game and resume play by just pressing the power button. In fact the PS4 contains a secondary chip that will manage game uploads and downloads even when the console is off. Notably, similar to the way Microsoft is innovating on the delivery method for Office, users will be able to download and play games almost instantly, as the bits of the game will be downloaded on the fly. As far as the uploading is concerned, users will be able use a video compression technology that will allow them to upload videos of game footage or photos so that they can share the content with their friends.
Sony is bending over backwards with the social focus on the PS4. Users will be able to watch games played by others and even play on a friends system. The PlayStation Network will be tied in to Facebook and UStream. Moreover, there will be companion apps for smartphones and tablets that will allow users to browser through content.
But the biggest deal with the PS4 is Gaikai, the online game streaming service Sony acquired last year. Users will be able to try games first and then pay for them and the PS4 will adapt to such a degree that it will monitor the users preferences and try to predict his likes or dislikes. This will allow the PS4 to pre-download games that it thinks its owner would want to download and the game would be already on the system even before the user has actually bought the game.
Additionally, users will be able to call out for help from players who have already completed the game in question. So if one is in tough spot, one could get a health pack from their friend. Gamers will be able to broadcast themselves in real time and developers will gain tools to enable director status that will allow them to modify the game environment on the fly.
Using Gaikai’s technology, the PS4 will have a feature called ‘Remote Play’ that will allow gamers to transfer the game entirely on the PS Vita. Essentially, in this mode the PS4 will become a game server, while the Vita will become a client.
In the long run, Sony says that Gaikai’s technology could be used to stream PS1, PS2 and PS3 games on the PS4 and also on mobile devices, but for now it will not deliver any legacy content on the PS4. Presumably, at launch PS3 games will not be backward compatible, considering PS3 games are designed to run on the proprietary Cell Processor architecture, while the PS4 is based on a x86 architecture.
A number of third party and first party titles were also announced. Some of these include Knack, Kill Zone Shadow Fall, Drive Club, Infamous Second Son, The Witness, Final Fantasy, Watch Dog, Street Fighter, Deep Down, Diablo III, and Bungie’s Destiny.