10 burning questions we have about PlayStation 4

  • Posted February 27th, 2013 at 00:01 EDT by Kyle Prahl

Sony's PlayStation Meeting and PlayStation 4 reveal were nothing if not comprehensive. The two-hour coming-out party for the next generation of PlayStation hardware put recent E3 press conferences to shame and treated gamers to a detailed, thrilling look at games and features just around the corner.

Still, Sony's reveal left some wanting: no physical hardware was shown and a whole host of questions have yet to be answered. The PSU staff compiled 10 such questions, and I took a stab at fleshing out each of them. We can't promise you concrete answers in this article, but we can promise a glimpse of burning questions that Sony needs to answer in the coming months. Let's get started:

1. Will PS4 look similar in design to PS3, or will Sony opt for a brand new look?

The fact that Sony didn't show the physical PS4 console left some critics pining for more. I don't give this absence the same importance as others, but I am curious to see what the next evolution in Sony hardware looks like. At the PS2's launch, black was the new grey. Then came the PS3 to usher in the era of glossy electronics. Game consoles don't follow trends; they set them. Black or white, tall or fat - the look of PlayStation 4 will be talked about and dissected for months to come. Hopefully, the look won't define the system; I'd hate to be retiring my "Fat PS4" five or six years from now.

2. How much will PS4 cost?

This is a biggie, as the stickiest sticking point for PS3's early days was its exorbitant price tag. $600 (hell, even $500 for the 20 GB model) crossed the line from 'bold' to 'foolish,' and everyone's wondering if Sony will make the same mistake twice. For this reason, I don't think there's a snowball's chance it will. It's reasonable to think that the PS4 could launch with two SKUs, one priced at $499, but anything more than $429 for the base model would be retail suicide.

3. Will the trophy system remain as is, or will it be enhanced in any way?

We caught a glimpse of trophies in screenshots of the new PlayStation Store during Sony's PS4 reveal. Seemingly, things haven't changed much. Bronze trophies, Silvers, Golds, and Platinums - it's all there, but with PS4's OS looking more and more like a gaming social network, we expect that viewing your trophies and comparing them to your friends' will be easier than ever. Any improvements to the system will surely be subtle; automatic syncing of every trophy as it pops comes to mind. If anything, changes to trophies as we know them will come through streaming - peep in on your friend's game session to see how a certain trophy is won, or save clips of your favorite accomplishments for the world to stand in awe of.

4. Will PSN downloads be speedier?

To some extent, download rates are tied to the ISP of a given user, but PS3 was (and is) notorious for under-performing in this regard. Still, there's reason for hope. Coupled with Gaikai's renowned streaming infrastructure and a modified PC architecture that simplifies programming tasks, PlayStation Network should be well-equipped for faster download speeds. Then again, it might not matter; Gaikai's streaming technology will let you instantly try any PSN game before you buy. Furthermore, the same tech will minimize the time it takes to jump into a game, streaming the opening moments while it downloads and installs in the background.

5. Will PS4 be region-free?

We sure hope so. Being able to play games from other regions opens the world and unites PlayStation gamers across borders and cultures. It also puts amazing experiences in our hands faster. However, there are sticking points to regional freedom. Some territories may hold issue with graphic content--violent, sexual, or otherwise--that is perfectly acceptable in other parts of the world. Furthermore, region-locking helps publishers manage and meet the incredible demand for high-profile releases, stifles importing, and keeps regional prices relevant. As some can attest, this isn't necessarily a good thing: video games and consoles are notoriously overpriced in some countries. In troubled financial times, paying reasonable prices is a high priority, and rightfully so.

6. How ... (continued on next page) ----

Kyle Prahl is a PSU senior editor and a Communications student at the University of Minnesota. If you care about PlayStation or the life of a pale Midwesterner, you should follow him on Twitter.
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