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PlayStation 4: what do we know?

playstation-logoOkay, it’s no secret that Sony has been working on the PlayStation 4 for a good two years now and rumours abound that Sony will bring forward its launch to 2011/2012 to directly take on Microsoft’s proposed launch of its next Xbox. All this talk of will it, won’t it? or ‘will PlayStation 3 be Sony’s last PlayStation?’ are largely irrelevant. It’s happening, the real question is: what form will the console take?

What follows is a list of possible functions based on what experts inside and outside of Sony have been saying, current and future trends in the videogame, multimedia and internet markets and my own pretty well-informed opinion and conjecture. Let me know what you think.

Sony successfully pioneered the first truly mainstream games console with the PlayStation 2 by first appealing to an early adopting customer and then, later, opening up the console to a wider market with aggressive pricing, marketing and a range of products (EyeToy, SingStar) that appealed to your non-traditional gamers. In this regard, PlayStation 3 has failed to learn the lessons that Sony itself once taught. It appeared that only Nintendo was listening.

Nintendo’s Wii has proved that the games/software market is much bigger than anyone had previously imagined – PlayStation 4, therefore, needs to appeal to geeks and grannies alike or it will simply be relegated to a specialist gaming machine. Sony’s past business success has been founded on mass market products like Walkman so Sony will want desperately to take (reclaim?) a large chunk of Nintendo’s business.

Price then is a key point but how will Sony keep the price down to the impulse buy level that served it so well with the PS2? The technology that was once cutting edge in PS3 has now become standard. The 1080p output, the Blu-ray drive, the built-in wireless internet connection – all of these features and more have quickly become, or will quickly become, industry standard. TVs, for example, now come with wireless internet connections and web functionality. This means that the cost of the technology has and will continue to come down. Likewise, the production cost of the Cell processor (reportedly the most expensive component in the PS3) has been slashed recently, with cost to fall further in the coming years.

It’s likely that PS4 will be powered by Cell, or a variant of. Not a single chip but several working together – this is, after all, what the Cell chip was designed to do in the first place. And with a price tag of over $3 billion, it had better have more than a five-year lifespan.

Graphics processing, the other expensive chip in the PS3, is likely to come from another joint venture with nVidia or another chip manufacturer, keeping costs down. The visuals won’t need to be that much better than what we’ve got currently. Naturally, graphical fidelity will increase with photorealistic textures (this is possible on current PC cards) and polygon processing will increase – although not dramatically. 1080p, 60fps native output on all games is a must.

The PS4 is also likely to be able to process real 3D imagery (both for movie playback and real-time graphics) but, as demonstrated at the recent CES, the PS3 can already run several games in 3D, albeit at a reduced resolution. So again, this wouldn’t need a huge leap in processing power to achieve.

In terms of television resolutions (the jump to TrueHD  prompted Sony’s inclusion of 1080p in PS3 in the first place) the next big thing will be Super High Definition, which is reportedly ten times the resolution of current HDTVs. This probably won’t be available commercially for another ten years so it’s unlikely that the PS4 will need to support this resolution, again saving on costs.

First there was analogue, then there was EyeToy, then there was the Wiimote. With each development of control systems comes a revolution in the type of games that we play. Sixaxis failed to be a substitute for Nintendo’s game control revolution so it was back to the drawing board for both Sony and Microsoft. Both companies came up with viable solutions to the problem and I suspect that the future of game control lies in motion tracking, motion control and voice control. Whatever the PS4’s primary control system is, it won’t be a DualShock controller.

The real battleground, if you like, will be with the software. True voice recognition for games and software that facilitates better community, social and sharing and creation aspects of gaming will be of utmost importance. I’m not going to predict what that might be here but all the major console manufacturers are currently experimenting with different ideas in these areas. Time will tell which will be successful. The point is that these ideas will have reached fruition when the next generation of consoles launch.

So that’s it. The PlayStation 4 will be a leaner, meaner version of the PS3. It will have state of the art community and internet-enabled functionality right out of the box; you’ll use it to stream both games and movies down your fibre-optic broadband. It will support 3D TV but may not be a similar graphical leap as we had from PS2 to PS3. It will appeal to the whole family with its wide selection of software and interactive entertainment and be affordable from day one. In short, it needs to be an Xbox 360, a Nintendo Wii and a PlayStation 3 all in one box.




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  • SonyRep

    pointless article, u telling us what the ps3 already has. its obvious that sony will build upon ps3, too early to tell anything.

  • SonyRep

    keep in mind sony may choose to go games on demand

  • Eight Ball

    “Whatever the PS4’s primary control system is, it won’t be a DualShock controller.”

    I sure hope not, the DualShock works, curve the triggers out, give it better grip and a lick of paint and it’s a perfect controller, a classic controller that works well, PlayStation gamers don’t want to have to wave there arms about or talk to use their console, we’re happy with a normal control for standard and primary control.

    Anyone in their right minds would welcome the motion controls, the 3D, the voice activation as great, integrated extras, but we want to use our DualShocks as the main control point.

    And tbh, what I’m saying here most likely speaks for 90% of the PlayStation community, we welcome these cool little things as extras but please oh please do not take away our DualShocks or at least, our classic joypad style.

    :]

  • Daniel

    I agree with Eight Ball, I would really miss my dualshock!

  • OG (Original Gamer)

    2011/2012? Now I know this is BS. Sony promised a 10 year life span so it would only hurt their credibility even if they continue support for the PS3. Besides, the PS3 is an expensive piece of machinery so it would radically slow their sales. People always want what’s new so at least half of the people wanting to buy a PS3 at that time will turn their attention to the PS4. It’s only logical. This cannot be right.

  • Ed

    Sony doesn´t need to bring a PS4, the majority of the functions you mention are in some way in the PS3. When microsoft and nintendo (M$ with Natal and Ninty with Wii HD)launch they´re new hardware on 2011/12 Sony will have the lead with the PS3, they will only need to bundle the motion controls and that´s it they will be in a very comtetitive place.

  • HM

    True voice recognition won’t be ready for the next gen of consoles. That’s a nut that everyone has been working on now for decades and still not got very close to achieving. Some rudimentary system may be used, but true voice recognition is at least two generations away – maybe more. I’d also be very surprised if the Dualshock or a variant is not still the dominant controller for PS4. It works, it’s proven and its a lot more consistent and reliable than motion control. A much more closely integrated and flexible combination of the two is sure to be developed, but I believe the idea of getting rid of any kind of input device, like Natal, will ultimately prove to be impossible for several more generations, if indeed it’s ever considered preferable. Do an article on the XBox 720 now – do you see it shipping with no controller at all?!

    H.

  • wiifan

    Quit while they still have money in other products. They couldn’t beat the iPod. They lost to MS & Ninty. They think big and price high but don’t know how to turn it into profits. They want to be Ninty and price like Apple and it doesn’t work. They would profit much more if they solely made software for the other platforms. Development costs for software would be more effective than R&D costs for bloated hardware packages.

    I know they will continue but they’ve lost. They say Ninty wasn’t competition but they are making every effort to incorporate Ninty’s ideas into their current and future hardware products. Their actions of replicating are much louder than their words of “Wii is not competition”. I would much rather see them profit as a software developer but we all know that isn’t what SONY brand is known for or will become. I love their stereo and surround sound products though. It’s all I buy. But there was never any way I was gonna pay what they asked for the PS3. No WAY. My Wii plays and looks great and sounds great on all my Sony equipment in my living room though.

  • Nick Jones

    Thanks for your comments, guys. And you make some good points.

    Firstly, I’ll be sad to see the back of the DualShock design but I also think that it doesn’t work as well as it could do and it certainly isn’t able to incorporate motion sensing technology in its current form – Sixaxis proved that. Current game genres require accuracy that isn’t possible without some kind of direct control interface – ie buttons and joysticks – so I think that a hybrid between a motion sensing controller and something with the accuracy of DualShock will be the eventual solution. Sony will need to supply a primary controller that offers both in the box – if only to ensure every gamer has access to every game.

    Xbox 720 would, if it were to ship next year, come with Natal and a handheld controller.

    Sony first talked about the 10 year lifecycle of PS3 a long time before Microsoft made it think twice about its position in the games industry. I personally think that Sony was just referring to the PS2’s lifespan, which has just hit 10 years and was talking, specifically, to publishers about the amount of time they can expect to be profitable by supporting that particular format.

    I’ll admit that 2011 might be a bit soon for PS4 but there’s no question that Microsoft being first to market has really damaged Sony, especially in the US. If, and this is still a big if, 720 launches in 2010 the damage in the US would be even greater.

  • oohiwoooy

    just stop these stupid article allrady and let us enjoy the current gen of the console for god sake !!! by Writing Articles like this there will be no surprise factor

  • SONMIC

    PLEEEEEEEASE SONY AND MICROSOFT UNITE YOUR FORCES TOGETHER AND MAKE ONE CONSOLE !!!! THE MEANING OF FANBOYISM WILL DIE SLOWLY
    THE GAME DEVELOPERS WILL NOT BE CONFUSED FOR WHICH CONSOLE TO DEVELOP FOR ” PERSONALLY DONT CARE ABOUT NINTENDO ” THE INDUSTRY WILL GROW FASTER
    AND MORE PROFITABLE JUST THINK SONY AND MICROSOFT JUST THINK !!
    PLEEEEASE HEAR ME THREW THIS WEB SITE PLEASE !

  • cabbage24

    seriously, the ps3 is fine just how it is, and if you don’t agree with that, you obviously don’t have one. Any problem areas can be fixed via a firmware update and the dualshock is already near perfect. No need for radical changes. And also REAL gamers have no problem picking up a separate 1:1 motion controller if they can keep the dualshock. And seriously people, stop hatin’ on th PS3 and pick one up. You’ll enjoy yourself 🙂

  • sourav93

    First of all i have to say that this was a good article. Now, i will begin.

    No. 1: the 10 year lifespan said about the ps3 doesn’t mean that there won’t be another (newer) playstation until the next 10 years. It just means that the ps3 will be supported by Sony for approximately 10 years, or you can say that if well maintained, an individual ps3 system will last for ~10 years, just like the ps2. So Sony might lauch the ps4 or the next playstation before the 10 year lifespan of the ps3 has ended.

    No 2: Like some others, I too would miss the DualShock controller if it is replaced. It is a very versatile controller and has a nice feel on the hands (ask any PlayStation fan). But ofcourse we would want to see new features/additions to the controller (or even an extra controller) so that it exhilerates our gaming experience to a even higher level.

    No 3: True voice recognition would me a nifty and “cool” addtion to the next playstation console, but, as stated earlier, will difficult to accomplish. However, do we really ‘need’ true voice recognition? Ask yourself that question.

    No 4: This one is @ wiifan. I can see that the Nintendo Wii is your most favourable video gaming console, and I also respect your opinion, but can you explain to me why you said “But there was never any way I was gonna pay what they asked for the PS3” ? The features that the PlayStation 3 offers, if taken into account individually will cost ~$600. So getting a ps3 at $399, in my opinion is a steal. In addtion, the ps3 can be upgraded, via software, to add new amazing features and/or improve your gaming/multimedia experience. So if you can name any other device(s) out there in the market that provides the features I stated at a lower price than that of the current PlayStation console, you comment would be justified.

    Finally i would like to say that, in my opinion, the PlayStation brand has always be the defining icon of the gaming industry. And with their current console, things haven’t changed. Thanks for reading my comment.
    Peace

  • saminseattle

    That was a great read, thank you. 😀 I sure hope the DS (not the handheld) isn’t replaced, only improved slightly as Eightball previously stated. I have to agree with all the writer said, because I personally don’t see what innovations could possibly take place in the next generation of consoles. So, I believe the PS4 (or w/e it may be called) will only improve upon current technology instead of being a huge jump graphically or technologically.

  • Rebel

    I think that moving the PS4 to the kids/granny crowd is a FANTASTIC idea.

    I’m an XBOT fanboy and that would be perfect.

    Make the PS4 into the Wii3….

  • gdg

    article full of outdated bullshit

  • scols

    DualShock FOREVER!

    i dont want to be a wii-tard!

  • Ben

    I believe that the ps4 will mainly be a ps3 with newer bigger hardware. The cell is currently in the 45nm fab process, and they are currently working to get to a 32nm fab process. There have also been reports that they are looking at a 32 core cell for the ps4. The only problem with using that many cores on the cell is that they have to redesign the CPU layout to accomodate the the extra cores. I see Sony increasing the memory in the ps4 to 2gb and this may be either the current xdr ram that is already in the ps3 or they may move to the new xdr 2 ram. Most of these all factor around how well the ps3 motherboard can scale. We don’t know the underlying specs of the mobo, like what is the max cpu support, how much ram can the mobo suppot in it’s current state? If these are all scalable, then the cost of new hardware will be very cheap by he time they launch the ps4. I see them probably sticking with nvidia on the gpu side, but I’m not sure if the current state of gpus are hardare compatible with the cell or if nvidia will dev something from scratch.

    I do agree that the gen after this one will be trueHD on all consoles. HD tv’s are still coming down in price and as more people move into he HD arena, console manufactures will be forced to make their consoles HD compatible. Anyways, just my .02 cents.

  • name

    thats what i hate about the industry these days everyone has to copy everyone.
    nintendo makes money with their motion controller so now M$ and sony follow suite.
    how about some diversity consoles are supose to be different if i wanted to play tenis with a controller on my hand (why would you its sunny out side) i would buy a wii.
    if i wanted a cheaper system i would buy a 360.
    but i want a system with the latest hardware and best games (not counting gaming pc because ive already got one and their not cheap)thats why ive got a ps3.
    if sony chucks a nintendo and forces motion controlls on us than good day im through with consoles forever.
    why does everything have to be the same.
    i will buy something because of what it is not because of what i want it to be.

  • WitWolfy

    Sony’s downfall was their convidence in loyal customers, and ofcourse the name brand… Sony got so use to people always buying their products at outrages prices.. That the PS3 wont be any diffrent.

    Guess they were wrong….. Yes manufacturing a console comes at a price… But not the price as the customer would consider “Budget friendly”.

    We all love Sony and their products.. But need to keep in mind people arent always prepared to shell out $400 for a console one shot. I think thats where MS were smart… They sold everything seperatley.. Giving the consumer a longer period to get accessory they desire… While still playing on the console that cost them $200 cheaper

  • kraze

    Getting rid of dualshock? Why even consider something like that? It’s blasphemy! A 2011/2012 release date also seems like BS to me. Sony has the right idea now. It’s a console that’s ahead of its time and most everything else just needs to catch up. It seems like sony, microsoft, and nintendo are all just competing to be one step ahead of each other in different areas such as innovation or technology nowadays.

  • sam witwicky

    i dont care what ps4 might have or can do long as the price is not 6-800.00 299.00 yes

  • Darius

    Whilst a lot of this is possible its just speculation, but you couldn’t be more wrong about the Dual Shock controller not being the primary. I assure you it will be, there controller and camera are secondary. A lot of gamers don’t wanna be jumping about like mad men n women, especially the ones that work all day. I have college from 9 -4 and then work from 4:30 – 10:30, time I get home at 11pm I won’t want to be jumping about waving my arms around, I’ll wanna sit back and chill with a control pad. I know Nintendo made it primary but there in a different ball game.

    Games on demand are possible, but I wouldn’t rule out there Disk drive for backwards compatibility. Chances are you’ll be able to download a game 2 days before its due out, but it won’t be unlocked until Sony or the developing company make it so.

    Graphical leap, Yeah I’m sure there will be a pretty decent one at that. Inclusion of 3D would mean buying a 3D TV 🙁 That’s shooting the price up for people who want there full use. Okay fair enough they brought us to HD, But I can’t see loads being able to afford 3d, Chances are it won’t be around till PS5.

    PSN and Features have to revamped, Copy Xbox Live and do 1 better.

    I love my Xbox to 🙂 Wonder what they’ll do

  • Don

    Pointless as someone said earlier. Lots of PS3 games struggle to maintain 30fps at 720p. So to have 60fps at 1080p, they probably need at least double the graphics power. And to produce flicker free 3D you need 120fps, so double that again. Now to produce 3D you need to process two images for the same scene and we are probably looking at another doubling. So far we have 2x2x2 = 8 times the current system power. So if they do just a 1.5 or 2 times the PS3, it won’t be enough.

  • Corwin

    This article is full of nothing.
    The author has obviously no clue what he’s writing about.

  • BIG APPLE

    i dissagree sony prices are alot higher because well their products consoles, games ect. are better than MS also you haft to pay for online psn is free im saying on reason xbox fanboys dont like the ps3 is because they dont have one or they cant afford it
    So my opinoin is if you have the $ choose the ps3 much more relaiable cosole.
    iv’e heard stories of xbox 360’s stuff up in the first few months.

    So for price 360
    Fun, good relaible console but you got the loot ps3.

  • Garguno

    I totally agree with eight ball… Dual shock controllers are awesome and no one likes having to swing your arms around to play games!!! Keep it simple with good graphics.

  • con

    may theyll be replasin the dualshock with that banana controller they adverticed 4 the ps3 i hop they dont coppy de wii

  • lu

    @SONMIC:

    bullshit!
    you need the competition
    it helps the business
    everyone’s tryin to beat the others

    the last thing we want is damn monopol of one big company
    the financial crsis kills the little ones…

  • Lordirongut

    Maybe the big three should all stop trying to compete and just aim their products at different markets. Possibly MS and Ninty going for the casual crowds and Sony going for the hardcore crowd, with MS offering a few hardcore games as well.

    Also, if Sony hold off the PS4 until 2015/16 like they said they would, then the entire prospect of console ‘generations’ could be scrapped, as the consoles would be far enough apart to be well in advance of each other. This would put an end to flame wars and fanboyism as well as allowing each company to cash in and sell well before the next machine.

    Or maybe I am just talking bollocks, but either way, I still want a DualShock 4, at least as an option.

  • Luke

    I don’t want any drastic changes to the console, I don’t want my Dualshock replaced by some fancy motion sensing controller, I don’t want to play games with my voice or my face or my brain, I just want things how they are now. A solid powerful gaming console. There’s a reason I chose a PS3 over a Wii, it’s because I like this style of gaming. Don’t get me wrong, Wiis are fun to play with a few mates but the PS3 is great because it appeals to hardcore gamers. The moment Sony start copying Nintendo it will crash and burn, the PS4 would basically be a really expensive Wii with good graphics. And grannies who enjoy Wii sports don’t give a damn about graphics or CPUs or specs. Sony have a dedicated fanbase, it would be stupid to get rid of that, and as soon as they try to cash in on Wii’s novelty appeal, they will fail. You can’t play GTA or Fallout3 with a motion sensing controller and a microphone.

  • samurai

    xbox live is the best thing to happen to gaming ,ever, psn needs a good kick in the arse .its so far behind live its a joke . ps4 wont survive without an awsome online experience . wots the point of online gaming if you can’t talk.

  • Sam (chopsueywarlord)

    Getting rid of DS is a truly awful idea, i hope tht this author is wrong, and as tht is only his opinion with no actual facts there is a very good chance we will keep the DS, maybe a new version, but fundamentally a handheld controller. All other ideas are fine and cool, AS EXTRAS, but i personally like lying on my bed shooting on COD and Killzone, and as for driving games – pretending to hold a steering wheel? No thanks. Sony should keep the good, simple stuff, dont fix whats not broken.

  • Interesting read indeed. I would like to think that SONY wont sever their ties with the current machine and move onto the 4th iteration before they’re done getting the best out of the PS3. Microsoft did that with the original X-Box which was a shame because there were some really great looking games being brought out towards the end of its days. That plus the PS2 shows that 5,6,7,8,9 and 10 years down the line companies were really pulling the best from the machine (Shadow of the Collosus, Devil May Cry 3, Metal Gear Solid 3, God of War I & II to name a few) as well as really enjoyable releasing more niche titles too (a multitude of decent 2D fighters and RPGs such as Persona 3:FES & 4, Yakuza 1 & 2, far too many scrolling shooters and so on). If SONY keep on pushing to get the developers to get their wares out they will gain speed as although Microsoft have the Western developers in their pocket they still seem to have to work hard to keep the Eastrn ones interested. SONY are still in the fortunate position of catering for and having good relationships with both that were established at the height of the PS1/PS2 days.

    I’d like to think this doesn’t just come down to corperations throwing money around and being like the Premier League of football where money talks over passion and the output but you do wonder. As long as games like Uncharted, Valkyria Chronicles, Killzone, Final Fantasy, Metal Gear Solid and Tekken continue to be made I feel SONY still has some weight in the market yet and although they may appear to be the underdog right now (I feel strange typing that after what happened with SEGA’s Dreamcast) they have the most to prove and the most ground to gain. SONY will bare its fangs soon and they will be impressive to see, I am sure (or the alternative is that they leave the console market altogether). I don’t imagine SONY will allow that to happen to their most profitable division anytime soon, plus we need someone there to prevent Microsoft from turning upgrading consoles into an affair of Windows prortions with yearly updates (just for the record I own a 360, a PS3 and used to have a Wii too.)

    P.S SONY should get that price cut out there this year to gain back some ground. They need it.

  • Nick Jones

    Just wanted to clear something up about the DualShock thing. I never meant that the DualShock design would be completely abandoned, just it would, in some way, have to be incorporated into a controller that would also be able to be used for motion control. In this way the PS4’s main controller (ie the one that came in the box) would be guaranteed to be owned by every PS4 owner. This way developers would be able to design their games safe in the knowledge that everyone would be able to play them with all the features they incorporate.

  • Jim

    I think it’s a great idea to bring out a ps4 but taking away the controller (possibly) is sooo bad. I love the duelshock controller. Please dont take it away! And if they do take the duelshock away then they better make something better because i love it and i will poo my self if it goes. And by the way I own a ps3!!

  • James

    i love dualshock too, but motion control would be good too, so i think that in the ps4 box there should be both.B ut sony should only add motion control on shooting games and stuff like that. anyway wooooooooooo! cant wait til ps4 comes out im gonna get it by selling ma ps3, so it wont cost as much. YAY DUALSHOCK!

  • john doe

    True gamers who have a thirst for realism,graphics,action and excitement get a ps3.they understand it, theyve grown with it, they know it produces the best graphics and games of this time. it’s the best form of immersing yourself into another world and forgetting about the woes of reality, for atleast a few hours anyway.but the same buzz always comes back when you reload your favourite game.there will always be the casual gamer,the bit of fun after christmas dinner player,the let’s get the family together and play guitars or tennis player, simply put, the wii and xbox users.there will always be cheap fun forms of what all first essentially grew from the psone.but true gamers have a ps3, i didnt mind shelling out 300quid, why? because you always get your introductory games which give you a taste of the play and graphics,but, in time, you get your big companies throwing out MGS4,GTA4,FIFA 10,Assassin’s Creed etc. the list is endless, because the developers are dedicated.so let’s enjoy it now,and not worry about the ps4.let’s just play now!

  • symbiosis

    1: sony needs to advance the ps4, but not by that much. Just like a ps3 on steroids. ecpecially since the cell broadband engine cost $3 billion to develope!

    2: sony needs to release the ps4 before or on the same day as microsoft! win back all their customers.

    3: sony needs to cut the price to 299 ON RELEASE! people will be soo shocked they will go check it out just to see if it is true!

  • michael

    why do we need ps4 its not like we r against the xbox creators. besides if you do lauch ps4 “I WILL BY IT ROCk on ps4”.

  • dean

    in all honesty the only console the ps3 has to worry about is the xbox. i disliked the fact that everyone is jumping on the wii bandwagon. the wii is the most over-rated console and has alienated its hardcore games by trying to re-capture its glory days and just aiming at families. By the way the Nintendo adverts are vomit-inducing.

    I’m a hard core gamer myself and you’d find decent games on the xbox like: mass effect, halo, gears of war et al and on the PS3 you have kill-zone, uncharted and god of war et al. we do not see these calibre of games on the wii and if ps3 does decide to go for the mas audience then i think we Will see more wii fit and wii sports games then the ones mentioned above. i think if research was performed on how many hours was played on each console the wii would be some way behind, with the ps3 and xbox up there respectively.

    regarding the pad it will be a big mistake to get rid of the dualshock as its by far the best out of the three. the wii pad/stick is just horrid to use and look at.
    rant over!!!!!!!

  • john smith

    dualshock with motion control is what there should be but i think that there should be an optional choice of controllers

  • SHADOW187MDK

    they playstation should join up the online gaming to xbox so they get there asses kicked by the TRUE players wiv a REAL console . should be able 2 play our own music when we play games and do some motion fighting like xbox , got really got idea on ps gun but dont know who to wright to can any1 point me in the right direction with this please ?