On Wednesday, February 20th 2013 Sony had their big announcement of the upcoming Playstation 4. Patrick and I both watched the the livestream so we decided to share some of our thoughts with you.
So in a similar vein to the PS3 the PS4 will be something of a PC with a 32bit OS, a little disappointing as things are moving in the direction of 64bit and that gives the PC the advantage still. I do like the Suspend/Resume function, that is a bit of a no brainer considering PCs have had a decent sleep function for a while now. The secondary custom chip for background processing is a master stroke, that is going to easy a lot of the patching and download functions that plagued the PS3.
The controllers are a bit of a step forward, the integration of the light bar does allow for some “move” functionality of the standard controller which would be interesting in a flying simulator. The ‘Share” button will allow you to instantly screen or vidcap content and the touchpad on the controller is interesting but I am not too certain on the functionality it would add.
Sadly we did not see a prototype of the system as Sony has not finalized the design.
Patrick’s Take: Charles covered the details well so I am not going to belabor any of that but one thing I was really struck with during the hardware portion is that, unlike the early days of the PS3, Sony seems to be actually listening not just to what consumers want but also what developers want. Sony had a bit of arrogance going into this generation and it was to their detriment. It is very nice to see that the company is not taking that approach again. This shift in attitude really makes me feel more comfortable going into this new console than the last. I am ready for Sony to come back strong and deliver the quality right out of the gates that gamers expect. This shift in attitude is very encouraging. Rather than having the attitude that they had with the PS3 that they would dictate what gamers wanted and gamers would want it because they told them to, this time Sony seems to be taking the attitude that developers and gamers know what they want and should be the ones to guide the experiences in which they are interested. This paradigm shift could be just what Sony needs to deliver the system for which everyone is hoping.
The one game that stood out to me the most was Knack.
It felt like it might have had a bit of a Beyond Good and Evil vibe, hopefully I am right.
Another entry into the Killzone franchise, it looked fairly decent and that crazy camouflage reveal was obvious but still look great. Driveclub seemed a bit like a flash mob Facebook Gran Turismo, the car detail looked excellent and the first person perspective seemed to bet a great fit for the game. inFamous 3 felt a bit like a 1984 CCTV Heroes mashup.
Patrick’s Take: As impressive as the hardware comes off with what sounds like some solid ideas, the games shown really didn’t do much for me. Given the history of Killzone and next gen Sony platforms, I was very surprised to see them highlight this new one. It is odd especially considering how middle of the road it looked. Sure, the graphics were pretty but the gameplay looked fairly standard for a futuristic FPS.
This was kind of an issue across the board for the games featured. Aside from looking pretty, I didn’t see a lot to set anything apart from a gameplay or innovation stand point. Most of the games shown were pretty standard cut scene style reveal trailers that seem like they all came out of the same cookie cutter formula. Nothing really stood out very strongly to me on the games front.
It is important to remember, however, that this is just the opening tease for the system. Sure a two hour press conference is hard to call a tease but it is fairly likely that Sony is holding back the big guns until after Microsoft has shown its hand and when they can do something huge for E3. This is just a preview when it comes down to it so the lack of games that excite me doesn’t make me worry as much as one might think it should.
Call me old fashion but the idea of keeping saves and game files not on the local system just seems like a bad idea.
A few good points were made during the presentation, Spectating games has become extremely popular. I often find myself watching a few “let’s play videos from time to time. Those youtubers generate an insane amount of hits on their videos, which is commentary based on the gameplay experience. Starting downloading a game and you can begin streaming it, a great idea in today’s consumer culture were the attention span is short. Also, just a great way to promote the download versus the physical copy. Sony did learn a good lesson from the backwards compatibility, an outright statement was made that the PS3 games will NOT be natively supported on the PS4. What does that mean for the games you have already purchased?
Patrick’s Take: While I am glad that they are upfront about the lack of native backward compatibility, I think it is a mistake not to include it. Moreso than any generation before it, the current gen has given players a great deal of personalization in terms of what content a player wants to interact with. As such, both PS3 and Xbox 360 users have built up a lot of material from games to movies and everything in between. That is a lot of brand equity built up for a system that gamers have made their own. For Sony to disregard all that feels like a mistake to me. It is true that Sony says that emulation is possible and that it is possible for the PS3′s library to be available through download and emulation on the PS4 but I don’t really think that is good enough. If a player has to pay again for a game he or she already owns then that is just horrible. There is an argument to be made that once the next gen comes out people become less interested in the last gen material but there has never been the level of investment in a system before and I think that Sony is vastly underestimating the importance of that.
I like the motto of “Everything, everywhere”, I wonder if Sony will be able to deliver on that promise.
What did you think of Sony’s press conference? Are you excited for the PS4 or did it leave you cold? Sound off in the comments below.