We could stick “rumour” at the beginning of the headline above but we’d just be teasing you because it’s now common knowledge in the gaming world that New York City on February 20, 2012 is set to be the platform for Sony to reveal its next-generation console to the world. What we don’t know is to what extent PlayStation 4, PlayStation Orbis, or whatever name Sony has conjured up, will be shown.
The naming ceremony
First up, we’re almost certainly going to hear what Sony has named its new console. PlayStation 4 seems the most logical name but in Japan the number four is pronounced the same as the word for death and is considered bad luck. It’s widely believed then that Sony will instead come up with a brand new name to accompany the PlayStation brand, with most signals pointing to PlayStation Orbis, known to be the internal codename for the console for some time.
Personally, we think Sony won’t be bothered in the slightest about this superstition, and neither will the millions of Japanese gamers who will buy PlayStation 4. Sony doesn't need to come with anything fancy. PlayStation 4 is the best branding for the console and we’d be surprised if it’s called anything else.
However, some members of the PSU team believe Sony may brand its next-gen console slightly differently across territories. How about PlayStation Orbis in Japan and PlayStation 4 in North America and Europe, or even PlayStation 4 Orbis?
The launch date
PSU has learned that PS4 will be released in November and we believe that Sony will reveal the launch date window at the New York City event. It’ll probably hedge its bets by stating that PS4 will be released in Q4 2013. What we don’t know is whether we’ll see a worldwide release or a staggered release. It’s seems certain that Japan will be among the first territories to get the new console, but there’s also a good chance that North America will enjoy the PS4 this year. As usual, we predict that European gamers will have to wait a little longer. Expect a Q1 2014 release date for PS4 in PAL territories.
There’s been a lot of rumours about the specifications for the PS4 and it’s likely we’ll get to hear about some of them at the NYC press conference, though Sony may hold some stats back until later this year, most likely for its big E3 press conference.
The latest specs, unearthed via Kotaku, are said to be from the PS4 development kits, and seem to tally pretty much with what we’re expecting, confirming that PC heavyweight AMD is Sony’s hardware partner. Of course, for the retail console we can expect some of these specs to change…
System Memory: 8GB
Video Memory: 2.2 GB
CPU: 4x Dual-Core AMD64 "Bulldozer" (so, 8x cores)
GPU: AMD R10xx
Ports: 4x USB 3.0, 2x Ethernet
Audio Output: HDMI & Optical, 2.0, 5.1 & 7.1 channels
It's going to be interesting to see whether Sony reels off a set of specifications for the PS4 at this event, or whether it simply shows some of the games in action to emphasise its power.
Developers have been working on PS4 games for some time, so it makes sense that Sony will show some of the titles in an attempt to blow us away with the graphics and power of its new console. This could be via a brief videogame montage that reveals some of the games that will be available at PS4 launch, or we may see individual presentations of certain games, though this is something we usually see at E3.
Either way, Sony will almost certainly want to reveal the PS4 by showing us what it can do. What we don't know is what games will be shown. Check out our feature on the "PS4 launch games - the titles that will blow us away" to see our predictions.
Much has been made out of the rumour that Sony could be ditching the design of the DualShock controller in favour of a design that features a capacitive touch pad similar to that found on the back of PS Vita. It’s also heavily rumoured that the controller will feature a SHARE button giving access to a variety of community options. Both new features seem entirely feasible to give gamers a wider range of input options that can take advantage of new control schemes similar to what we enjoy on Vita, which would encourage developers to create more games that take advantage of motion-sensing and touchscreen.
We wouldn’t be surprised in the slightest if this new controller is showcased at the NYC event, though we wouldn't expect to get hands-on with it until E3 in June.
Sony is preparing to usher gamers into a new console era with cloud gaming and Gaikai, the cloud-streaming company that it purchased for $380 million in 2012. This is a huge area for Sony over the next couple of years so it may not want to go into real depth on cloud gaming at this reveal event for fear of over-shadowing the hardware, but you can bet it will be talked about in some capacity. Though we suspect this isn’t going to happen overnight, the introduction of cloud gaming on PS4 could mark the end of physical software as products get streamed from a remote server.
In the first instance, it seems likely that gamers will be able to access demoes via the cloud, meaning that they won’t need to download content onto the PS4 because it will all be streamed. This could extend to providing the back catalogue of older PlayStation games via the cloud, though the possibilities for cloud gaming on PS4 are endless, including the option to stream full games at launch. The world isn’t quite ready for cloud gaming on this scale yet though. We’ve already seen with the likes of OnLive in the U.K struggling because it relies on the user having a very strong broadband connection to get the most out of it. Give it a couple of years though and this could be an incredible service.
Does Vita have a part to play?
PlayStation Vita is still in its infancy and Sony certainly won’t want to overshadow it totally with PS4 as it hopes to swell its disappointing install base. In fact, expect Vita to become more desirable with the launch of the PS4. There’s a very strong rumour that Vita could end up being bundled with PlayStation 4 at a very tempting price. If that is the case - and Vita perhaps even acts as a second screen for PS4 - then Sony's handheld will fly off the shelves.
With a bigger install base too, more developers will sit up and take notice and develop better games. People will definitely like Vita if they try it; the problem is a lot of people haven’t due to the price. Bundling it with PS4 at a knock-down price is the perfect solution to get it into more hands worldwide and the whole Vita community will benefit from more available titles and better games from third-party developers.
The SHARE button, rumoured to be a feature on the new PS4 controller, will also help connect Vita and PS4 more easily, while the cloud-streaming service could really benefit handheld owners – perhaps we’ll be able to stream demoes on Vita without having to wait for long downloads? It seems feasible that Vita will be mentioned in some capacity at the NYC event.
While it seems likely that these will be the main subjects covered at the New York press event on February 20, at this point we can only speculate. PSU will be at the event to provide coverage of all the news as it drops so be sure to join us as we take this exciting step into the new console generation together. And do let us know what you're expecting from the NYC PS4 press event...