PS4: Enter the Playstation Orbis

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.

GameStop: an important retail presence. 

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?

Source: Kotaku

5 thoughts on “PS4: Enter the Playstation Orbis”

  1. I’m going to break my comments into different sections to make it easier to read. Keep in mind that Steven and I already discussed all of these things at great length in the podcast we posted last night, so I won’t go overboard here.

    Name: PlayStation Orbis

    I think it’s time they move on too. Not only does circle of life give them some interesting marketing choices, but it relates to the Lion King, and that means they’ve got a winner on their hands! Ok, being serious for a moment, they can’t continue with the numbers forever, which is why I think they ditched them for the PSP right away. I mean imagine a PlayStation 17 or something; obviously they had to deal with this at some point.

    May Not Play Used Games

    It’s happening, one way or another the used game market will be severely changed within the next three years. As we slowly move to an all-digital download future, this seems inevitable.

    Online Authentication of Games

    You know my comments already lol. Not much else to add.

    Backwards Compatibility Canned

    This is another logical step that hurts us gamers that enjoy the retro scene. I brought up all manner of issue with this moving forward as it also ties into the online authentication system. I just want to say that it’s clear Sony can make way more money by removing physical backwards compatibility, and focus on digital downloads of their classics instead.

    Release Date: Holiday 2013

    I think this is likely going to happen, for both Microsoft and Sony. Nintendo will have this holiday all by themselves, and the other two big boys will go head to head next year. As for E3 I don’t think they’ll do that. The PS3 has had worldwide momentum for the past year and it would be foolish to crush that this summer. It’s not entirely out of the realm of possibility that Sony could announce it at next year’s show and then release it four or five months later. I don’t think that has been done before, but if they do decide to go that route we will see leaks like you’ve never seen before, because it means the machine will be in manufacturing around the time of the announcement if not before so.

  2. I personally feel that it couldn’t go past 3 or it would almost seem to cheapen the brand. The ‘trilogy’ concept exists for a reason. I think once you hit 4, it’s time to begin a new chapter.

    A lot of the steps they’re taking make perfect logical sense, but damn, I can’t help but thinking that the next generation is going to come with its fair share of irritation as we get used to the shifting model for used games, digital distribution, and whatever other fun surprises are down the line.

    As far as yanking out backwards compatibility is concerned, yes, they can definitely make more money by offering the (extremely recent) PS3 classics as downloads over PSN. This makes one think… should we start buying games over PSN as much as possible now in hopes that they’ll carry over on our account to the next generation? Hard to say, but yeah, I think backwards compatibility is out as well. It would have hurt the PS3 more since the system came out with no backlog whatsoever, but when Orbis launches and already has a huge quantity of content available from Day 1 over PSN, it’s not going to matter that much.

    Skipping E3 so as not to put a damper on the PS3’s hot streak — I can agree with you on that line of thought, Jarrod. If they hold off until E3 2013 that will be very interesting because it’s a relatively short timeframe within which to build hype for the system’s release. Certainly doable, though. Of course, they could also unveil the console through a special event earlier in the year if they wanted to.

  3. Yeah exactly right Charles. I think this year’s E3 will be an interesting one if only because we’ll get to see exactly how Microsoft and Sony plan the rest of the years out. If both don’t make any mention of new hardware like they’ve confirmed they won’t, then what huge games are they going to tease for later this year? MS has Halo 4, Sony has The Last of Us, so I suppose there may not be very many surprises left, but hey who knows.

    I think both companies may just hold a special event to reveal their hand instead of the usual E3/TGS, but we’ll know soon enough.

  4. Holding a special event for their console unveilings does seem like a likely possibility if they push the announcement past E3. As you said in another post, Sony doesn’t want to destroy their PS3 holiday sales by jumping the gun on Orbis. But to me, announcing the console at E3 2013, just five months ahead of launch day doesn’t seem like much time to build the brand of a new home console that doesnt adhere to the traditional Sony numbering system up in the minds of consumers.

  5. Well we shall see soon enough. I really do not expect an announcement at this year’s E3. I’m also hearing that the company may indeed keep the numbering, which to me is foolish. We can’t have a PS4, PS5, PS27. It’s just going to get out of hand. Their best bet may be to announce the system at their own unique show, which is what we’ve been saying all along.

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