As news of next generation consoles pops up more and more, there are that many more rumors and just plain lies being perpetrated by haters and fan boys alike. To break down the actual facts of the recent PS4 console announcement, let’s deal with facts alone. (Warning- A LOT OF DETAILS FOLLOW)
Sony held its pre-E3 press conference earlier than expected to make sure they beat Microsoft to announcing their new system officially.
There was a lot to get excited about for sure. The press conference had a bunch of new information to handle.
A quick rundown of the best of news. The PS4 will have software available to help with always on downloads, and hardware to speed up video compressions, prevent lag, and increase the ability to use the massive cloud based network Sony has promised. Sony has designed the system to have this software and hardware constantly keeping track of data compression and decompression in hopes that they will cut down on lag completely. Lofty but admirable goals for sure.
What does this actually mean? Well it’s pretty obvious Sony thinks they are building the fastest online gaming network ever. The trouble with that is, they announced it, making huge statements like this without knowing what the next Microsoft system will be capable of. The current comparison is bleak. The XBOX Live service is a major cut above the PS Network or Nintendo’s not really network.
Will it be better? Absolutely. It won’t really take much. In fact, if Sony just makes the PS4 gaming network more secure they will win back some fans. The purchase of Gei Kei to bolster their network and to provide a much more stable software operating platform is a big step. However, there are many things that are lacking. Yeah, the PS4 and XBOX NEXT is going to be much more capable. We hear 8GB memory and quad core processors and are elated. But Sony stated immediately they are building a system that will grant a separate chip set to prevent lag and allow, as previously stated, the ability to download all the time. Sony also gave some interesting news that they are designing DLC and full game downloads to give players the chance to begin playing a portion of the game while downloading the full version.
This is ok. But in practice could really make a mess out of the already weak performance history Sony has had. If these fragmented files become corrupted or they are partially ready when you are ready to play, then what? Or even worse, if they have trouble with security issues again, then gamers will have an entirely new reason to worry. Will your games be safe in a world of ever present digital only purchases? No company can guarantee that completely. The big three can’t even stop gamers from hacking games and boosting or just plain cheating their way through multiplayer. Consumers have very little cause for hope.
And to make matters worse the rumors, though completely unfounded, of no more game discs or including one time use codes in the box of every new game just frustrate matters further.
It seems very unlikely that Sony or Microsoft would shoot themselves in the foot trying to sell a new console without retail support from a company like Gamestop, the biggest game retailer there is. So it really is a bad rumor. On the other hand, games are being consumed more and more from the comfort of online downloads in the comfort of your own home and online from sites like Amazon. (and Gamestop of course.)
Don’t let that get you worked up. The addition of a Share button on the controller is to enable a nifty feature. PS network gamers will now be given the opportunity to record in game footage, upload it to Ustream and similar sites, and with the click of the Share button, stream live footage of what you’re playing so any of your friends can watch from their consoles as you work through whatever it is you are doing.
Now back to that supposedly amazing Cloud service. Sony has no experience building such a network, they struggle with security and even worse, they are making claims that they are putting all Playstation games on the service. They state that the PS4 isn’t likely to be back-word compatible with the PS3 etc, but they are going to put all mobile, PS, PS2, and PS3 games on the Cloud to download. The real problem is obvious. So what Sony. If you are already a Playstation fan, you probably have most of these games, or have had them on the previous generation system. Which means you face the situation of having to buy digital versions of old games you have on a disk just to play them again on the same system. What a missed opportunity, saying nothing of how much nonsense it causes.
On the other hand, this massive Cloud network is going to give Sony the chance to have every new PS4 game offer a demo that is open for play on the Cloud at launch. That is great!
On top of this, they have partnered up with sites like Facebook, to give social gamers a console home.
The trouble with all of this material and any hope that the PS4 is a real powerhouse is that Sony touts all this info but shows no footage of the PS4’s design, an actual machine running, or even more than a very swift glimpse at the new Dual shock controller with the touch screen in the center.
This brings me to the best announcement, even though it’s getting very little coverage. Sony is planning to make every game on the PS4 streamable to the PS Vita. This means you will, like the WiiU wanted to do, be able to flip your television away from your gaming, let someone else use the tv, and keep playing on the HD Vita screen using the Vita as the controller as well.
This is awesome, if and only if, it doesn’t stop you from doing things like streaming Netflix and other apps to it as well. Being able to use the Vita’s headphones jacks also adds to the mix. You could be far less annoying to whoever you share your tv time with just with this set of features. This is a design set that Nintendo has really failed to take advantage of.
Which brings me to another problem. Currently the Wii U is failing to reach any sustainable sales marks. In fact the Xbox 360 sold far better than the WiiU in December and January. And to top that off, the PS3 sold better than the Wii U in January as well. A next gen system is not selling like the industry swore it would. The gaming industry has blamed console fatigue for quite a lot of the drop off in sales. What crap! The plain truth is that social gaming, mobile gaming, and even e-readers has taken a lot of casual gaming away from consoles. When these gamers fill their interests with an on the go, far cheaper investment, they don’t need to get an expensive console or one of their $60 new game investments either.
Someone who only plays a game once in a while can now fill their craving so much cheaper than ever before. So this set of consumers is never coming back to a console.
This all means one thing. The next gen systems are going to have to do a lot more than just beef up visuals and some performance. They need to offer a long term reason to invest. Saying it will be a ten year system cycle isn’t enough. Make the consoles upgradable and promise to support the current gen systems for another three to four years. Then you will save the market from two huge failures in releasing new consoles to a poor economic market and an even more dismal outlook as Politicians are unable to resolve even the most common sense issue in our economic mess.
People can’t invent money just to get a new console just because the cycle time ran out. Make great games, continue to provide good services, and offer highly powerful next gen systems while easing more and more gamers over to the new systems. That is a solid plan. Forcing us all to jump ship, like the Wii U hoped, is just stupid and doesn’t work.
Right now the Wii U game line up is very weak, the planned line up for the PS4 is in good shape, in fact far better than the Wii U. But will that be enough?
Here are the facts.
These studios are supporting the launch of the PS4.
Q games, Gorilla Games, Double Fine studios, Ninja Theory, Naughty Dog, Blizzard, Activision, Bungie, Polyphony Digital, Square Enix, EA, Ubisoft, as well as many others. Two huge game announcements had gamers standing with their mouths open. Bungie is using their new partnership with Activision to bring its new game Destiny to the PS3 and 4, and in even bigger news, Blizzard announced an exclusive partnership to bring Diablo III to the PS3 and 4 as well. A huge blow to the Xbox whose gamers were lied to over and over by Blizzard when they promised a version of Daiblo III would be released on all major consoles this cycle. As far as more exclusives, Gorilla games is making a beautiful and dark sequal, Killzone Shadow Fall. Evolution studios is making a very cool racing sim called Drive Club, a lofty design more than ten years in the making. Gameplay in Drive Club is centered around team challenges and team play not being the best on a leader board on your own. Team’s will truly earn bragging rights. They will be able to design nearly any challenge imaginable in some of the world’s most amazing environments with very little standing in the way of creativity.
Sucker Punch studios is crafting a very cool sequel as well with Infamous Second Son, promising to deliver a game experience that is truly mind bending and intense. Super powers have hardly looked so destructive.
One thing this points to is next gen games being huge file sizes. Some are likely to exceed 30 GB. Sorry Rage, you won’t be the big man on campus anymore, your three discs won’t touch a next gen game when things get into full swing.
As for related hardware, all PS4’s are coming with the PS Move controller. Developers stated they are just discovering how useful the Move can be in crafting new game content and will be relying on it to craft quality next gen game experiences. In fact, judging by the much longer than necessary tech demo, Sony is determined to rebuild the music gaming market using the PS4. New games like Rockband, Guitar hero, and etc should follow.
Capcom has crafted a powerful new game engine code named Panta Rhei, Square Enix has its new Luminous engine, and Capcom promises a new Street Fighter game to redefine the series. Bungie announced that the PS3 and 4 versions of Destiny will have exclusive DLC for only the Sony systems, yet another blow to the Wii U and Xbox Next. New game engines from developers like Epic, with the Unreal Engine, mark the beginning of a game console cycle with a much heavier reliance on faster memory, more powerful GPU and CPU stats, and massive hard drives. Lighting effects seem to be the centerpiece of all this. So we definitely can expect that to be the focus of where in game visuals are moving.
Ubisoft seem to be placing an unreal level of expectations on their next gen open world title Watch Dogs, as it was the only real content they showcased. They will likely have much more to display at E3 in June.
Which brings me to the ultimate point. While I readily admit the PS4 is going to blow away the PS3 and other current gen consoles, I don’t expect them to beat the next Xbox. Nintendo seems to be on its last console. The failure of the Wii U is just too much. It will likely be a mainstay of mobile gaming for years to come, but whichever company, Sony, Microsoft, or otherwise, that buys up Nintendo after this failed console will be getting the best library of games there is. So let’s look at this like this! Whoever wins between the Next Xbox and the PS4 is likely to get Nintendo. So, the stakes are truly higher than ever before. That we can be sure of. So good luck between now and E3, when we will finally see full details of these consoles. I hope you don’t suffer to much from misinformation.
For a short video full of PS4 details, officially from Sony, follow this link over to Youtube.com