A big story about Sony’s next Playstation broke on Kotaku earlier, courtesy of a source who has provided the website with correct information before, according to writer Luke Plunkett. Here’s the scoop, coupled with my own thoughts on the rumours.
Name: Playstation Orbis
Dropping ‘4’ from the system’s moniker may seem like sacrilege to some, but I’d say it’s about time to move on from the traditional Playstation numbering system. Personally, I like the name Orbis and if it sticks I’ll be happy with that. Rebranding the next Playstation home console seems like a refreshing change to me, and opens the doors for new marketing opportunites. If this is the case, as Kotaku has pointed out, the PS “Orbis” would align with the PS “Vita”, forming the phrase “Orbis Vita[e]”, which means “The circle of life” in Latin. Not only would that make a lot of sense in so far as connecting the two platforms, but it carries some very cool symbolism to boot.
May Not Play Used Games
This is similar to the rumour floating around about the next Xbox, NGP, Durango, or whatever you’d like to call it. Of all the speculation surrounding Orbis, this particular tidbit seems very likely… to an extent. I’m sure publishers would love to take a bite back out of the used game industry, and placing limitations on used games is the way to do it. Now, that doesn’t necessarily mean that the used games industry is going to pack up and move out. If second-hand games were pulled off shelves entirely, it would discourage middle class consumers who love gaming but want or need a few dollars back on their purchase, and severely damage GameStop’s business as well. And as much as the that big retailer can be a thorn in the industry’s side in one regard, do hardware makers and software publishers actually want GameStop to go bankrupt? That’s doubtful, as it would significantly hurt the public image of the industry and ultimately reduce the retail presence of games.
The alternative solution seems to be that if you were to trade in a game, the next person who buys that game would have to pay a fee through Playstation Network to unlock the full content, similar to the online passes enforced by individual publishers this generation. It’s interesting to think of what repercussions this could have on the used games industry. It could very well drive down the value of trade-ins and the selling price of used games, as who’s going to buy a used game for $50 then pay another $20 to ‘unlock’ their game when the new product itself only costs $60? Regardless of the impact, this would give publishers the shoehorn they need to slide into the used game market’s profit margin and take back a considerable amount of money without destroying the infrastructure of the gaming retail business. It seems like the more likely route to me over completely wiping out used games.
Online Authentication of Games
This next rumour wouldn’t be a big surprise if it turned out true, as PC game publishers have been doing this for years. Basically, the idea seems to be that before being able to start up a game you’ve just purchased (whether on Blu-Ray or via PSN), you would need to authenticate the product online. This would tie into the strategy for cutting out used games discussed above. The game would be locked to a specific PSN account, preventing it from being exchanged among friends or resold as easily. I don’t think that would necessarily stop you from bringing a game to play at a friend’s house as long as you’re logged onto the account said game was downloaded with. It’s a slap to people who purchase used games, but a logical step for Sony to cut out piracy as well as to seize more profits for software publishers.
Hate this? Well, you’re going to see more of it.
However, Jarrod raised a good question in Episode 9 of our Canadian Gamers podcast (check it out to listen in on a great discussion). Considering Sony’s status as a global publisher, what exactly would this mean on the international stage? There are many areas of the world Sony caters to wherein the infrastructure is not at the level necessary to provide internet access to the majority of consumers. How would Sony handle that issue? Would they offer an alternative to these countries by dropping the authentication altogether, or would they sell codes of some sort via retail? One thing is for certain: online authentication would seriously alienate these user bases. It will be interesting to see how Sony approaches the matter if they indeed go down this route.
Backwards Compatibility Canned
As much as I’d like this rumour to turn out false, it seems very likely that Sony will pull the feature that has been apart of their console lineup for over a decade and a half. The process already began with the PS3 when PS2 backwards compatibility was quickly stripped from new SKUs within a couple years of the system’s launch. PS1 backwards compatibility remains, but if you want to slay Heartless in Kingdom Hearts II you have to dig out your Playstation 2 to get the job done. The lack of backwards compatibility will escalate with Orbis if Kotaku’s sources are to be believed.
This is a real bother for those of us who love to play older games and only want to have one system hooked up to the television, but in all honesty it’s probably not going to affect the average consumer that much. How often does the everyday user feel the need to bust out a ten year old game? Probably not often, if at all. So, just make sure to hang onto your PS3 in case you get the itch to play some Mass Effect 2 down the road. You wouldn’t want to have to re-buy the game via Playstation Network, after all.
Don’t expect to play PS3 games on Orbis.
Release Date: Holiday 2013
Kotaku’s sources suggest that the new system will drop in a year and a half, just in time for the holiday shopping spree as one would typically expect of a new home console launch. Does that mean we could see the Orbis at E3 this year despite Sony’s denial of the possibility? It’s hard to say. Apart from the above morsels of apparently well-founded speculation, a few more rumours about tech specs came out of Kotaku’s sources, but they’re not much to go on. For those details, check out their original story as linked below.
There’s a lot left to be uncovered, and for all we know this could all be false information, so only time will tell what features are actually apart of Sony’s next generation effort. Regardless, what are your thoughts on the Orbis thus far, assuming these rumours pan out and become reality?