It’s PlayStation faux
Sony’s announcement of its PS4 revealed little and left many questions unanswered, writes Rod Chester
FOR all its gaming knowledge, Sony’s latest move in the console wars is more of a ‘‘ present arms’’ than a killer blow. Sony announced the PlayStation 4 in New York last week, but in a two-hour long demonstration failed to offer specifics on when gamers would get on it and how much it would cost.
Many analysts say Sony is keeping its powder dry. Microsoft is expected to announce an Xbox upgrade, probably in June.
But the challenge the console games maker faces is pitching its devices as ‘‘ entertainment units’’ to those beyond the core gaming market when the explosion of smartphones means that for many people a game is something to buy for $1 and play wherever and whenever they want.
Research from firms IDC and the NDP Group shows sales of consoles are on the decline, although both Microsoft and Sony can expect a boost when they release their first new consoles in years.
A lot has changed since Sony and Microsoft last went head to head.
There are new threats coming from outside the traditional Sony-MicrosoftNintendo market, not the least of which could be gameplaying elements with Apple’s long-rumoured iTV and Google’s TV system.
Although it is easy to criticise Sony for ‘‘ launching’’ a games console without actually showing a console, there were many things at the Sony launch that excited fans. One was the demonstration of games with a new level of graphics that makes faces almost look real.
The made-ready-for-PS4 games unveiled include Driveclub, Killzone: Shadow Fall and Destiny.
Sony Computer Entertainment president and group CEO Andrew House alluded at the launch to the changing face of the console war.
‘‘ While we once changed the gaming landscape, now we can see how it’s changing us, from mobility, to multi-format play to greater community engagement as well as platforms that are designed to enable access to entertainment, social media and more,’’ Mr House says.
Weonce changed the gaming landscape, now wecan see how it’s changing us
Sony is betting increased social networking and linking to hand-held devices is the key to keeping consoles relevant.
Interactive Games and Entertainment Association chief executive officer Ron Curry says the announcements at the PlayStation 4 launch are a sign consoles and mobile games will converge. ‘‘ The ecosystem is expanding and we are seeing a symbiotic relationship between all the players,’’ he says.
The Sony PlayStation 4 has a X86 CPU and 8GB of memory.
Gamers will be able to share video clips of their gaming prowess. Those with a Sony Vita will be able to use their handheld device to play PS4 games. If you have a smartphone or tablet, you will be able to watch your friends play.
The DualShock 4 gaming controller has a light panel, which has a colour selection to identify players, a built-in touchpad and a ‘‘ share’’ button.
There will be ways to share gaming videos to Facebook and stream them over Ustream.
The price and availability. Some analysts believe Sony will not reveal the price until after Microsoft announces the new Xbox. The initial an- nouncement that the PS4 would be available by the 2013 holidays might mean a much later date for Australia.
WHAT’S IN THE BOX?
The spec sheet Sony released after the launch made no mention of a Blu-ray player nor the size of the unit’s hard disk.
Sony indicated the unit eventually would have backwards compatibility with existing titles through the cloud, but such a general announcement leaves a gamer with more questions.
WILL THE PS4 SUPPORT 4K TVs?
It’s a moot point now, as the super-resolution TVs are priced above the range of an average user, but given the shelf life for a games console is six to seven years, it’s an issue to consider.
Game on: Sony’s Andrew House introduces PlayStation 4.