Sony Conference Blows The Lid Off PlayStation 4

Let’s start off with the obvious, the console is officially called PlayStation 4, or PS4 for short. Their two-hour PS4-focused conference revealed tons of information on their new platform, but also left quite a few things up to the imagination. By far the biggest thing missing from the conference was the system itself. We still have no clue exactly what this bad boy looks like, and likely won’t get that information until E3.  So let’s jump in with the tech specs first.

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Having 8GB of RAM is going to do wonders for the system. Next up, the DualShock 4 was revealed, but very little time was spent on it. It is much more refined than the prototype screens that have been leaked online. I’m still trying to locate pictures and videos to get online, so expect this story to be updated in the coming hours. The DualShock 4 has a light bar on the back of the controller, which when used with a new sensor bar can tell the PS4 how far away the controller is from the TV and other motion-info. There are new triggers, and there is indeed a touch-pad and a share button. Sony also mentioned that there is some new rumble technology in the controller, which will offer more dynamic sensations.

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DualShock 4 Specs:

– External Dimensions: Approx. 162mm x 52mm x 98mm (width x height x depth)(tentative, excludes largest projection)
– Weight: Approx. 210g (tentative)
– Keys / Switches: PS button, SHARE button, OPTIONS button, Directional buttons (Up/Down/Left/Right), Action buttons (Triangle, Circle, Cross, Square), R1/L1/R2/L2 button, Left stick / L3 button, Right stick / R3 button, Pad Button
– Touch Pad: 2 Point Touch Pad, Click Mechanism, Capacitive Type
– Motion Sensor: Six-axis motion sensing system (three-axis gyroscope, threeaxis accelerometer)
– Other Features: Light Bar, Vibration, Built-in Mono Speaker
– Ports: USB (Micro B), Extention Port, Stereo Headset Jack
– Wireless Communication: Bluetooth® Ver2.1+EDR
– Battery Type: Built-in Lithium-ion Rechargeable Battery
– Voltage: DC3.7V (tentative)
– Capacity: 1000mAh (tentative)

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PlayStation 4 Eye Specs:

– External Dimension: Approx. 186mm x 27mm x 27mm (width x height x depth)(tentative)
– Weight: Approx. 183g (tentative)
– Video Pixel: (Maximum) 1280 x 800 pixel x 2
– Video Frame Rate: 1280×800 pixel @ 60fps, 640×400 pixel @ 120fps, 320×192 pixel @ 240fps
– Video Format: RAW, YUV (uncompressed)
– Lens: Dual Lenses, F value/F2.0 fixed focus
– Capture Range: 30cm~∞
– Field-of-View: 85°
– Microphone: 4 Channel Microphone Array
– Connection Type: PS4 dedicated connector (AUX connector)
– Cable Length: Approx. 2m (tentative)

After that, Sony got to work on the PS4 itself. They began by discussing the core ideas behind the system and its architecture, which are Simple, Personalization, Immediacy, and Integrated.

Simple – They wanted to create a super easy to use operating system and graphical user interface. What was shown was extremely brief and simple, and I fully expect that to evolve over time because it looked a little messy. The core idea is that users will be able to easily get to the information they need quickly.

Personalization – The PS4 will learn which types of games you like to play and adapt itself to cater to your needs. The PS Store will only show you game ads for games you might actually be interested in, for example.  You can also customize your friends list to include your real life BFFs.  Dedicated hardware (Secondary custom chip for background processing) to seamlessly upload recorded gameplay as you play. Players can enter a spectator tab on the GUI where they can watch what their friends are playing even if they aren’t in the same game.

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Immediacy – When you shut down a game, the system will stay in a hibernate/sleep mode. Press a button when you want to continue playing, and you’re instantly returned to your game. No more having to reload the game. If you’ve played on the Vita or PSP, you know what to expect. This also goes for downloading games. The second you begin to download a game, you can press play and start playing immediately.

Integrated – Sony went to great lengths to say that players will have full access to not only the system, but it’s library of games and in-game features from their smart-phones, tablets and PCs.  Their press materials offer greater details on the PlayStation App.

A new application from SCE called ‘PlayStation App’ will enable iPhone, iPad, and Android- based smartphones and tablets to become second screens. Once installed on these devices, users can, for example, see maps on their second screens when playing an adventure game, purchase PS4 games while away from home and download it directly to the console at home, or remotely watch other gamers playing on their devices.

Once these core ideas were finished with Sony switched gears to Gaikai and discussed the evolution of their online network. Major improvements have been made over the current network, and for one thing, it’s now built seamlessly into every facet of the console. The new PSN will allow you to “try before you buy” all PS4 game, thanks to the streaming service. We assume you’ll have maybe an hour or thirty minutes to try the game before it shuts off. Social media also comes into play here allowing your real life friends to see what you’ve purchased, and from there decide if they want to pick up said game, directly from their mobile app on their smart-phone and tablet. It’s all pretty impressive.

One bit of sad news made its way into the conference too. Sony is officially killing backwards compatibility with the PS4. Instead the PS Cloud service will be your solution. The idea is to “eventually” have all PS1, 2, and 3 games available for players to stream to their PS4s and Vitas.  Sony and Gaikai are also working to create the world’s most advanced and fastest severs.

During this time they also talked about a new PS4 game called Knack. You can check out the trailer below.

Sony also talked a bit about the PlayStation Vita and how remote play would be a key feature moving forward.  Players will ideally be able to play all PlayStation 4 games on the Vita when their friends/family are using the TV for other purposes.  Yes this is exactly what the Wii U does, but it’s still good to see the feature being used.

With all this information out, Sony then switched gears to the games, and absolutely stunned everyone in attendance and around the world with what they revealed.   At one point three million people were watching the live stream, but sadly the quality of the videos they saw pale in comparison to these.  Sit back and enjoy them.

Killzone: Shadowfall – Just watch the video below, and you can tell me what you think.

Evolution Studios was up next with their new title, Driveclub. Driveclub is a team-based car simulator. What’s so unique about this one, besides the photo-realistic visuals, is the fact that it has many features taken from MMOs. You join a club, much like a guild, and create challenges and take on new events other people in your club create. These events can be created by a wide assortment of devices you own, such as via your tablet. Then other club members can accept the challenges or make changes to the event either from the game itself, or again, via one of their other devices.

Sucker Punch followed with a teaser video for their next game inFamous: Second Son. The game looks excellent, and much darker than its predecessors, which is good because it appears the story is maturing somewhat. I can’t wait for this one :)

Braid indie developer Johnathan Blow talked about his new game The Witness which will be exclusive to the S4 in the console space. It looked like a really unique game, which for one reason or another reminds me of Myst.

That ended the gameplay segment. David Cage of Heavy Rain fame came on stage and talked about how he believes the PS4 will be the first console to finally bring emotions to these lifeless characters we all play with. Interestingly, his games are already jammed with emotion so if anyone can do this, it’s his studio Quantic Dream.

Media Molecule followed and discussed their creative process, and then took the time to talk about Move and using it on the PS4 by showcasing a 3D modeling application. No new game was announced, but that wasn’t the point of this segment. It was all about how the PS4 can help inspire developers.

List of PS4 developers.
List of PS4 developers.

Third parties are on-board the system too, with virtually all supporting. Sony made sure to follow up the inspiration segment with a few of their closest third party developers. Capcom discussed their history with PS, going through all the different systems. Code Name: Panta Rhei is a graphics engine they showcased alongside a new IP called Deep Down.

Square Enix came on next and showed the Luminous Engine real-time demo we’ve already seen before. They ended by saying Final Fantasy was in the works for the PS4, but no other info was given.

Ubisoft followed with a gameplay segment on Watch Dogs and yes, it looks just as incredible as when it made its debut at last year’s E3.

The biggest surprise of the conference happened next when Blizzard came out and announced a partnership with Sony which will see Diablo III coming to the PS3 and PS4. Much more information will be released in the coming months, but this was completely out of left field.

The very last developer to talk was Bungie, where they showcased their new game Destiny. It was surreal to see the illustrious Bungie at a Sony conference.

About a second before the conference wrapped we got the release details, as they stand now. PS4 coming holiday 2013.

Before wrapping up I’d like to say that Nintendo and many others out there apparently were right, we’re reaching a point where graphical jumps aren’t as huge as they once were.  The leap from PS1 to PS2 was staggering, and from PS2 to PS3, it was immediate and in your face, but this time around it appears, at least from these videos, that while we’re going to have more textures and improved lighting and AI, that there will never again be a huge jump in visuals as before.  What this means is that services, integration and overall features will now play a much more important role than ever before.

So now for everything that wasn’t mentioned.  First, we didn’t see the console itself, next, Sony never mentioned where these recorded videos will be uploaded to and whether or not Twitter is joining the bandwagon.  We also have no clue how much the console will cost.  All this means is that we have lots more to learn about the system leading up to its release later this year.  In the meantime I believe Sony did a fantastic job to start the hype train and I for one and extremely excited to see what’s next.  Your move Microsoft.

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