What to Expect In Tonight’s PlayStation Announcement

Tonight is Sony’s big PlayStation event. While it hasn’t been officially confirmed, we all expect that tonight will be the official announcement and unveiling of the PlayStation 4. Since Sony announced that there would be an announcement, the PS4 rumour mill has kicked up a notch.

Before tonight’s big event, here’s a look at some of the big news and rumours we expect to officially have confirmed or denied about the PS4.

The specs are fairly impressive

The specs for the PS4 development kit aren’t too bad. They’re certainly better than the laptop that I’m writing this post on, that’s for sure. I recall a rumour a couple of years ago that suggested that the PS4 and Xbox 720 would only be minor improvements over the current generation of consoles. For example, the rumoured RAM was said to be about 2 GB.

Fortunately, those early rumoured appear to be false. Here’s a Cole’s Notes version of the PS4’s technical specs.

  • RAM: 8GB
  • Video Memory: 2.2 GB
  • CPU: Four Dual-Core AMD64 “Bulldozer” (Eight cores in total)
  • GPU: AMD R10xx
  • Ports: Four USB 3.0, 2x Ethernet
  • Disc Drive: Blu-Ray
  • Hard Drive: 160 GB
  • Audio Output: HDMI & Optical, 2.0, 5.1 & 7.1 channels

Sony is overhauling the DualShock Controller

ps4-controller-prototypeTo the left is a look at a PS4 Controller prototype. As has been rumoured for a few weeks, the new controller has a prominent touchscreen on the front. It also has a new pair of analog sticks and D-pad. What’s a little less obvious from this picture is a reported new set of trigger buttons (L2 & R2 for PS veterans) that are said to be more springy. At the top of the controller is an illuminating PS Move sensor built into the controller. With Microsoft bundling the Kinect 2 with the Xbox 720, it wouldn’t be too surprising to see Sony bundle the Move with the PS4.

A report by a GameTrailers user suggests that the PS4 controller’s touchscreen is a single-touch device while the official literature sent to developers is that the touchscreen will allow two touch input. There’s supposed to be a share button on the controller but that doesn’t appear to be on this prototype.

It’s also worth noting that you’re supposed to be able to tie PSN accounts to the controllers so you can have multiple PSN accounts signed in at the same time on the same console. So you and a friend can play at the same location and each login for multiplayer or presumably something like that.

The PS4 will stream PS3 games

Not surprisingly, the rumours say that the PlayStation Four will not be backwards compatible with PS3 games. However, the Wall Street Journal says that the PS4 will be able to stream PS3 games in order to play them on the console. So rather than being able to play PS3 software from a disc or download, it looks like the PS4 will leverage Sony’s purchase of cloud gaming company Gaikai to ensure a large games library at launch.

What I’d like to know is if Sony plans so I can play/stream my PS3 games on the PS4 without having to buy them a second time. I’ve already bought a substantial library of PS3 games and would rather not have to spend another dime to re-buy games that I’ve already bought. It would be a PR nightmare for Sony if they announce the streaming surface only to say that you have to buy everything again to play it on the new console.

Sharing is caring

I couldn’t leave you hanging with that mention of the missing Share button on the prototype controller. The exact purpose of that Share button hasn’t quite been fleshed out yet but there are a couple of ideas that speculation has settled on.

The first is that the share button will allow you to create and upload screenshots while playing. That’s a pretty straightforward thing for the PC gaming master race but the console peasants don’t have it as easy unless they have the necessary setup. The other possibility is that the PS4 will be able to upload videos to YouTube from the console. I kind of like that idea but I’d rather have the raw video to edit into a let’s play, walkthrough or review rather than upload as is.

About that EyePad…

sony-eyepadThat’s not my term for Sony’s patent application for a tablet controller. That’s what Sony refers to it as in a European patent application. The name looks kind of awkward on paper but it sure does roll off the tongue smoothly. Just say it and you’ll wonder how nobody came up with the name EyePad before.

Anyway, the EyePad patent application was first filed in July 2012 but wasn’t publicly published until last week. It’s for the PlayStation 3 but surely Sony has to be looking at applying some of these concepts to the PS4 given Nintendo’s use of a tablet controller and Microsoft leveraging existing tablets and mobile devices with their Smart Glass functionality.

The EyePad comes with the expected trimmings like a D-pad, face buttons, analog stick and SIXAXIS motion controls. It also has that touchscreen in the middle which is kind of obvious. Less obvious are the shaded area on the edges which illuminate to be used like a PlayStation Move controller.

The most interesting thing that’s on the EyePad are the eight shaded ovals around the touchscreen. Those are small cameras which are able to give a full 360° view of an item placed on the touchscreen’s surface. This is supposed to allow the EyePad to make a full three-dimensional scan of the object, presumably for use in a game. I’m not sure how a dev could make any use of that in a game but I suppose Sony had some idea when they put that in the patent application.

Would you like some games with that?

There is some speculation that the arrival of Quantic Dream CEO Guillaume de Fondaumiere in New York indicates that their rumoured PS4 game Singularity will be formally announced. I doubt that Sony plans to make any big waves with launch titles today. That’s what their E3 keynote is likely to be focused on. They’ll announce the hardware tonight to keep the focus on software in June. Mind you, that won’t stop developers and publishers from coming out and saying they’re making a game for the PS4. I just don’t think Sony will be the ones to say it.

For the low, low price of?

It’s probably just wishful thinking that Sony would officially declare the launch price of the PS4 but there are rumours out there about it. A story out of Japan a couple of weeks ago priced the PS4 at ¥40,000. This week, The Times of London says that the launch price will be around £300. In US dollars, the range is from $428 to $463. The PS3 launched at about $599 US.

So we can expect a price cut of some magnitude. The question is how much. The PS3 launched in Japan for ¥60,000 which means there’s a rumoured 33% price cut. In Britain, the PlayStation 3 launched at £425. The Times’ rumoured PS4 launch price would represent a 30% cheaper launch.

If that pattern holds, the PS4 will launch in North America for around $400. The Wii U launched at $300 and $350. I’m not surprised that the PlayStation 4 would launch at a higher price considering the more impressive hardware. The question then becomes exactly what $400 gets us.

Forbes – Quantic Dream Could Be Announcing A Playstation 4 Game Tomorrow
IGN – PS4 Heavily Integrated With Gaikai, YouTube, Social Networks
Joystiq – Sony patents ‘Eyepad,’ a Move-enabled PS3 tablet controller
Joystiq – WSJ: New PlayStation to stream PS3 games
Kotaku – New PS4 Controller Image Raises More Questions About What’s Actually In The Controller
Kotaku – The PlayStation 4 Has A New Controller, Fancy User Accounts And Impressive Specs (So Far)
The Times – Sony upgrade cheaper than predecessor
The Verge – PlayStation 4 report suggests $400+ price


About Steve Murray

Steve is the founder and editor of The Lowdown Blog and et geekera. On The Lowdown Blog, he often writes about motorsports, hockey, politics and pop culture. Over on et geekera, Steve writes about geek interests and lifestyle. Steve is on Twitter at @TheSteveMurray.

Posted on February 20, 2013, in Games, Long Read and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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