Analysing the Playstation 4 - directors cut

By Mike on 10:34 am

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So there we have it, Sony has officially unveiled the Playstation 4. We've had a few days for it to sink in now. Unfortunately my work schedule hasn't allowed me to tackle the unveiling sooner than today. Here's a complete recap of what went down, what to expect, and which rumours were true and false.

It will be called the Playstation 4
Sony's newest console will be officially named the Playstation 4, or just PS4 for short. I expected Orbis to be the name of the new system to match the Vita. However, there's just too much brand strength with the traditional naming scheme, so Sony stuck with it.

It will have an octal core AMD "Jaguar" processor
We had two rumours served up suggesting the PS4's processor would either be a quad core at 3.2ghz or an octal (8) core Jaguar based chip. Sony has confirmed that the latter is the case. Not much is known about the exact specifications as of yet. We do know it's 64-bit and based on the x86 programming language, the same used for PCs and Macs. Sony wants to make their console as developer friendly as possible. This first step makes it very easy to program new games and port existing ones from Windows.

Continued after the break

It will have an AMD Radeon GPU
Sony has officially dumped nVidia for an AMD Radeon GPU. Official specs peg it as a "next-generation" chip with 1152 stream processors capable 1.84 TFLOPS. Like the processor, we know little else about it. Based on these two tidbits though, it makes it slightly faster than the Radeon HD 7850. It will most likely be based on the same "Southern Islands" architecture.

It will have 8GB of GDDR5
Rumours had suggested that the PS4 would only have 4GB of RAM. Sony doesn't seem eager to skimp on the memory this time around, putting it at a more sensible 8GB. Taking a page from Microsoft, it uses unified graphics RAM. Sony says they have worked closely with developers to give them something easy to work with, so there'll be no memory restrictions this time around. Memory shortages were a common complaint with the PS3.

It will feature the new DualShock 4, with a share button
The new controller is similar to the old versions except for a few key features. It will have a front touch pad, and a light bar that will likely work with the new Playstation Eye.

VGLeaks claimed it wouldn't have a Share Button, but indeed it does. The button allows you to quickly capture and share video clips from games and upload them. Game reviewers rejoice, no more capture cards. Not only will you be able to capture and share video but also watch live streams of other players' games. You'll even be able to jump in to their game and help out your friends, or ask them to help you. Social gaming will be the biggest buzzword of this console generation.

It will feature a 3D Playstation Eye
Sony showed off a distinctly Kinect inspired PS Eye. It's a long bar featuring dual cameras and can see in 3D. We're not sure how it works. However, we can expect Move will now work in a 3D plane instead of just a 2D one.

It will NOT ban used games
A lot of gamers were worried the PS4 would restrict used or traded games. Now we know for sure.

Speaking to Eurogamer, Sony's worldwide boss confirmed that the Playstation 4 will not ban pre-owned games. Shuhei Yoshida stated that consumers expect to be able to retain value when they purchase a physical item and should be free to sell or trade it.

It's worth noting that there were never were any specific rumours suggesting the PS4 would block used games. All leak sites had to go on was a patent application for a system that would tie discs to online accounts. Companies file such patents all the time without intentions of applying them. They're more concerned with getting royalties from competitors who may have the same idea.

This confirmation does potentially puts Microsoft in a sticky situation. Durango is specifically rumoured to block the use of pre-owned games. If true this would put the next Xbox at a significant disadvantage over both Sony and Nintendo, which both allow them.

It will have a Blu-ray drive
BD is confirmed for a comeback. It will have 6x read speeds, three times as fast as the PS3 but still slower than now common 10x BD drives in PCs. Given lack of fast, reliable broadband in many parts of key markets, this was a given.

Sony has stated that they plan to use optical discs for the foreseeable future. As games get larger, the issue of broadband speed and data caps only becomes more problematic. Bluray's 50GB capacity still offers plenty of headroom while keeping production costs low.

It will do 4K video
Joystiq confirms that the PS4 will be capable of displaying both 4K video and photos. However, it is not capable of rendering games in 4K.

It'll feature some decent connectivity
The PS4 finally adds 802.11n WiFi to Sony's TV top console lineup. Making a surprise return are analogue video outputs. Rear connection options on the PS4 will be the same as they are PS3: HDMI, AV Out, optical audio, and Ethernet. It will also be getting USB 3.0 ports and a special auxiliary port for the PS Eye.

It will feature a new tile based UI
The PS4 operating system looks a lot like Sony's new Playstation Store layout, with influences from Microsoft's Metro. Live tiles dominate this round.

It does second screen gaming out of the box
Following Nintendo's lead, Sony is now getting behind second screen gaming. They are pushing developers to make all PS4 games playable on the PS Vita through local WiFi streaming. If they actually follow through on this, it will be a major boost for the Vita. Many gamers would love to cut the tether to their TV.

Sony is also releasing iOS and Andriod apps similar to Microsoft's SmartGlass. These apps will allow players to access maps and game info for the title they're currently playing, buy stuff from the Playstation Store, and watch live streams of in-game footage played by other gamers.

It can download in the background
Sony is adding a secondary, low power chip to allow seamless background processess. This means games can be downloaded in the background, even if the system is on standby.

It goes to sleep and boots instantly
The PS4 is the first console to feature a sleep mode. When you turn it off, it will save your game state to memory and resume exactly where you left off. Sony is also promising instant booting, significantly cutting load times. This is a feature not seen on consoles since the N64 days.

It won't play PS3 games
Sony has confirmed that the Playstation 4 will not be backwards compatible with the PS3. It's simply too difficult to emulate and too costly to implement a hardware solution like the original PS3 did. Given that the PS4 is far easier to develop for, it won't need to rely on past content. Plus Sony has yet to announce plans to phase out the PS3.

It may possibly have cheaper games
Jack Tretton has stated that PS4 games will range from $0.99 up to $60. This means we could see cheaper minis coming out.

It has a strong launch window lineup 
We don't know what games will be on the PS4 at launch. We do know that there are quite a few strong titles coming up for the launch window.

First and second party titles include third person physics-action game Knack, Infamous: Second Son, Driverclub from the makers of Motorstorm, and Killzone: Shadow Fall. Third party titles include Witcher 3 and Cyberpunk 2077 from CDProjekt RED, Watch Dogs by Ubisoft Montreal, indie title The Witness, and Blizzard plans to port Diablo III to the system. One curious standout was Bungie, who normally sticks to Microsoft like white on rice. They're working on Destiny, an ambitious first person shooter MMO. This marks Bungie's first time on Playstation in over a decade.

These are just confirmed titles. Many games targeted for Holiday 2013 are expected to have PS4 versions.

It will be out for Christmas and be cheaper than the PS3
If all that got you excited, be glad to know that the PS4 will be out in the fourth quarter of 2013. Most likely sometime in November if past history is a clue. It will also be significantly cheaper than the PS3 was at launch. Analysts predict the console will be around $400 US. The system will also come bundled with a headset.

But we don't even know what it looks like
Sony says they have yet to finalize the design for the PS4. Expect to see it out in the wild at this year's E3 convention.


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