Opinion: We will see PS4 in 2014
Before I go on to my reasoning for this, I'd like for you to close your eyes for a second or two and put on your best suit and tie and grab your leather briefcase for just a moment. Look, I know we're all excited about a new hardware launch, but before we set ourselves for upset we should weigh all the information and explore different possibilities here. We have a lot of information today that can help us connect the dots on the mysteries surrounding the PS4.
One of the biggest reasons I think Sony is in no hurry to launch the PS4 anytime soon is that they were finally (but able to) catch up to the 360 in unit sales with the PS3 this year. Now, as much as the peanut gallery wants to attribute this to a single factor or two in explaining the push/pull relationship Sony has had this generation with the gaming market, the truth is that there were a very large number of factors running against the Playstation 3 from the very start. The PS3 launched at $600 for one thing (and I will circle back on this point later). With MS in full-blown FUD-out mode (remember the $1000 BluRay?) The gaming media declared the PS3 still-born on arrival and decided the year old 360 would be their darling despite very clear signs that it had catastrophic hardware failure rates. Meanwhile, game developers under-utilized it's hardware in the face of a growing Microsoft presence in the console space as well as its position in PC gaming. As a result of this hostile environment, it opened the door for long time Playstation franchises (Final Fantasy, just for example) going cross-platform. Let's not even begin on how advertising was next to non-existent throughout the generation. In short, the PS3 not only managed to stay alive despite these factors, but it has gone toe to toe with MS and come out nose to nose with the competition. There is real strength in the brand and with the new re-design, there is still leg-room to grow.
This brings me to my second reason for thinking that, at the very least, you shouldn't be surprised or shocked that PS4 isn't roaring in to 2013 like Bahamut on roid-rage and pissing Mountain Dew. I give you a link, and it's an important one:
Now, on top of opening up one of the most rapidly expanding economies in the world, Sony has been making headway throughout this generation in South America. These things don't get much fanfare, but you can believe they weigh heavily on decisions being made about business cycles. It wouldn't make sense to open a lucrative market for business only to turn around and confuse the market with new hardware. Sony is going to cultivate these emerging markets for Playstation and they are going to do it by having an awfully strong software line up in the next year or two. Do not think for a single second that developers aren't also along for the ride since Sony has won back their support with brute strength (70 million PS3s say Hi). That number is growing, and from what we can all tell, it's growing quickly. With new markets on the way to the game (pun intended), Sony and the developers maximize their dollar by not splitting up costs on new hardware. The end-game has changed, in other words.
Now, speaking of new hardware, let's focus on some other big news. You may have heard of this thing called the Wii-U. It may or may not take off like gangbusters, after all. Some guys named Nintendo make it and I heard a rumor that they completely dominated on the 360 and the PS3 this current generation. If you're asking yourself what does it mean for Sony, then believe me when I say Sony is asking themselves what it means for Sony. As unlikely as it sounds, there's a real possibility that it might not catch on. The economy is nothing like it was in 2006, after all. Casual gamers may feel that "new car smell" hasn't quite come off of that 3DS they play every day and hardcore gamers are pretty leery of Ninty these days. Before I get accused of predicting doom and gloom for the thing, I assure you that having been a fan of the Play-freaking-station 3 for the past 7 years has left me utterly impervious to doom and gloom thinking. The Wii-U could also take off like the Starship Enterprise, and you can bet that all bets are off in Sonyland as far as not announcing and launching a PS4 next year if it does. Sony will not sit by the side of the road and be irrelevant. It's not what they do. Thankfully for them, they have until a few months before E3 2013 to decide to pull that trigger and roll something off their assembly lines.
Did you think something was missing from that last paragraph, and possibly the paragraphs before that? Good, I'll tell you why the 720 doesn't have all of Sony whirling around it. You know it's being shown off at E3 '13 (or perhaps before it, hey, MTV specials yo), your mother knows it's being shown at E3 '13 and most importantly, Kaz Hirai knows that it's being shown at E3 '13. The thing is, Sony has already launched a year after an Xbox. Take a look at all the gloomdoomery in my opening. Guess what? That's.... not gonna happen again. Guess what seals the deal for that not happening again? If you answered with "Not launching at the same time as Ye Box of 720'ness" then I give you a cookie. Whether or not Sony has their hardware specs for PS4 etched in stone remains to be seen, but as sure as there is a Black President and people getting blazed in Colorado, the longer you take to put a final product onto an assembly line then the cheaper the parts become for it. It gets better, though. BluRay is an established technology and coming back around to deliver on what Sony promised it would do for the PS3. There's no STI investment riding on the tail of PS4, as well. In short, it is blissfully Kuturagi free this go around and that is going to translate into savings from day 1. What is going to happen when PS4 finally hits a shelf is that there will be a market that remembers the PS3 going hard and a whole lotta 360s going to the graveyard. Now, if you thought that was a sad attempt at trolling, it was merely a fact of life. The PS4 isn't just going to be cheaper than PS3, it could be a whole lot cheaper, especially if they are launching with DDR4 in 2014 instead of 2013. The target price range could be 3-400, which negates yet another advantage the XBox had this generation... price.
There is some silver lining to this, even for those of you willing to buy a PS4 yesterday. Even if there isn't a new Playstation at E3 2013, it's not like there aren't games to look forward to. It's not like the Playstation 4 isn't going to happen, either. You could bet good money that even if the sky falls on Sony and Toshiba or Samsung buy them out, they will still release a Playstation 4, because there is just too much money to be made. Even if the Wii-U puts Sony on accelerated mode, there are still plenty of things we do not know about the new system to make this all exciting. Just don't count Sony and the PS4 out if it doesn't show up anytime soon. There are plenty of good enough reasons for it not to. The house is not on fire. The pieces are in place for not only a strong launch, but a mature software platform when this thing does come around. You, the Playstation Nation, made it happen.