Sony reveals PlayStation 4 details at PlayStation Meeting 2013

PlayStation 4 (System) Announcement - Picture 4

Sony revealed initial details about the PlayStation 4 today at the two-hour-plus PlayStation Meeting 2013 in New York. While the final hardware build wasn’t shown and price not announced, the technical specifications and upcoming software features were. The upcoming cycle of Sony’s flagship console will focus on server-side, cloud-based streaming, social media integration, and greater connectivity with mobiles, in particular the PS Vita.

David Perry, CEO of the cloud-streaming service Gaikai, purchased last year by Sony,  was on-hand to explain the importance of streaming and social network connectivity to PSN. Players will be able to watch their friends play in real time, share what they viewed, and even take over the controls from another player to lend a hand. “Cross-game chat” will also be supported, an oft-requested feature. The cloud service is being planned as a catch-all solution to the system’s lack of native support for PS3 and PSN titles, allowing for players to stream the games they purchase from PSN off the cloud. Instant play was another feature in the works, with players able to select a game off PSN and immediately play a portion of the title, not necessarily a set demo, as a trial to see if they would like the purchase the full release. In the same vein, a strange feature was mentioned that pointed to a predictive element in which the system would try to gauge what the player might what next so that, on the chance that the content is selected, the game would be ready to play because the system would have already downloaded the content beforehand.

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This focus on immediacy was emphasized with “suspend mode”, which will keep the system in a low-power state to preserve game sessions so that players can power on and immediately begin replaying their game. The new mode will also allow games to download or update while the system is in standby. And to ensure that games can be played as soon as possible, the system will begin the transfer process by downloading a portion of the data, allowing users to play the games as the remaining content finishes downloading in the background.

The PS4 is slated to support second screens as well, utilizing smartphones, tablets, and the PS Vita. Remote Play was also announced, with PS Vita owners capable of playing most PS4 titles directly on the handheld over Wi-Fi networks, similar to, though not exactly the same as, the Wii U’s direct play feature for the GamePad. In a released statement, Sony explained that their “long-term goal is to make almost every PS4 title playable on PS Vita by using Remote Play over Wi-Fi networks.”

Software announcements include The Witness, the latest from Braid creator Jonathan Blow, being a PS4 exclusive, as well as a reworked console version of Diablo 3. Destiny, the upcoming shooter from Bungie and Activision, will include some PS4-exclusive content. The list of publishers and developers who have signed on include the usual high-profile studios: Activision, Capcom, EA, LucasArts, Square Enix, Ubisoft, etc. Some of the more recent shifts in the industry mean Blizzard, Bungie, and Epic are also on board. The rest of the lineup included Deep Down, Driveclub, Infamous Second Son, Killzone: Shadow Fall, Knack, and Watch_Dogs.

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On the peripheral front, a new DualShock and new EyeToy were also revealed. The DualShock 4 will include a new, more sensitive six-axis sensor, a touch pad on the front of the controller, and three color LEDs, which will be used to match controller to character in multiplayer sessions, as well as to indicate the player’s state in other titles (e.g, damage taken or when low on health). The new models will also come with a built-in speaker and stereo headset jack, which will work with the system’s bundled Mono Headset to offer chat with the headset and sound effects from the controller. A new Share button will also allow gamers to broadcast their games in real time over websites, such as Ustream, and upload to others, including Facebook. Other improvements include the ability to dock with USB smartphone chargers and, according to the release, more refined analog, trigger, and button feedback, tweaked based on developer input.

The new Eye is slated to have two wide-angle lenses with 85-degree diagonal angle views, which is said to better separate the player from the background, a sensor to recognize the DualShock 4’s LED lights, and support for the Move motion controller.

The PlayStation 4 is scheduled to launch holiday 2013.

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