Last night was the big night for the PlayStation 4, but despite quite a bit of news emerging for Sony's next big foray into console gaming, there were still some points left unaddressed. The flurry of post-event questioning, though, shook up much of the environment and changed the picture considerably, and the news is looking a little brighter the day after for Sony buffs.
Perhaps one of the oddest points of the Sony event was that no one actually showed the PlayStation 4. While there were plenty of game demos--"Killzone: Shadow Fall", "InFamous: Second Son", "Driveclub" and "Knack" all made appearances--information about the system itself was somewhat lacking until well after the event had passed, until a more detailed spec sheet emerged.
According to the specs, announcements made at the show were confirmed--eight gigabytes of GDDR5 RAM would be in play, as well as a built-in hard drive of as yet undetermined size--but some new facts were unveiled, including an eight-core AMD "Jaguar" processor, and a built-in Blu-ray / DVD drive, ensuring that digital delivery would still be a sideshow in this generation. That's a welcome development to users whose Internet service providers are still offering plans better suited to text than to video.
Speaking of welcome developments, one of the biggest holes left in Sony's presentation was around the issue of used / rental games. Disturbing possibilities had emerged regarding the next generation consoles' plans for a very unfriendly environment for used games, but in an interview with Eurogamer hours after the event finished, Sony Worldwide Studios' Shuhei Yoshida made it clear: despite reports, analyst speculation, and even a patent spotted from Sony, used games would not be blocked on the PS4.
Yet at the same time there was something of a pervasive disappointment to the show. Some felt that the show felt rushed, something done to gain an edge on Microsoft and take the high ground in the blogosphere, which was sure to talk about this event for days. Some even suggest that Sony's planning to develop a console more clearly geared to the past; while PS3 games would not be playing natively on the PS4, the show did bring in talk of Gaikai-based streaming capability at some point for every game in the PlayStation realm, going as far back as the beginning, by some estimation. Plus, Sony did bring out some exciting new features by way of using smartphones and tablets--and the PlayStation Vita--in concert with next-generation gaming.
While there was a release date, of sorts, announced for the PS4--"Holiday 2013", which is in line with the estimates of November that had been heard previously--there was no word on pricing, and Sony even mentioned looking forward to "continuing the conversation" in the months to come, likely holding a little something back for E3.
Still, one thing was clear. Sony's foray into next-generation gaming is looking a lot like last-generation gaming, just more powerful. Sony is counting on the past to become the present, and is offering up the tools necessary to make gaming's past a pretty impressive present at that. Microsoft, meanwhile, will now be left to go after the future, and its mandate is clear. Used games will have to be allowed in play, lest business be deliberately thrown Sony's way. But digital distribution still has a place, and users will be expecting a more refined experience overall. How Microsoft will ultimately counter remains to be seen, but it should be a sight to see when it decides to try.
Edited by Brooke Neuman