Sony Unveils PlayStation 4 Name, Controller, Concepts and Games

Posted on February 20, 2013 8:30 PM by Rob Williams

During a press event held earlier today, Sony finally unveiled its long-awaited PlayStation 4. Kind of. While we were fed a healthy dose of games, concepts and the already-known-about DualShock 4 controller, the console itself was not revealed. Nor were the specifics of its hardware (we do know it uses an AMD 8-core APU, however).

The DualShock 4 controller was unveiled not too long into the event, and it shares all of the characteristics that have been leaked over the past couple of weeks. It’s similar in overall design to what we’ve seen before, but has a center touch-pad panel and a “Share” button which can be used to both stream live gameplay and also bring friends in over your virtual shoulder to give you tips or potentially, items.

Sony PlayStation 4 Controller

Sony is making the PlayStation 4 out to be a living, breathing PS ecosystem, with the console at home being just the beginning. Its PSP Vita handheld will tie in extremely well with its new console, and the potential is there for mobile apps to be run on various platforms. In one example given, you could create a race in the game Clubdrive on your phone, upload it to the server, and let racers from all over the world take you up on your challenge.

Other concepts shown throughout the show included using the PlayStation Move controller to scuplt 3D models, which was claimed to be extremely easy (even though it didn’t seem to be). As an extension of that, you could create a character via this method, then use Move control your creation to make them do interesting things – such as play music. The potential here is huge, though I’m eager to see if it’s as easy to dive into as is claimed.

Oddly, quite a number of cross-platform games were announced, such as Watchdogs and Diablo III (yes, really), but there were some amazing-looking exclusives as well. The first to be shown off was Killzone: Shadow Fall – an interesting one because the original Killzone was a “killer app” at the PS3’s launch.

Sony PlayStation 4 Killzone Shadow Fall 01
Killzone: Shadow Fall

Sony PlayStation 4 Killzone Shadow Fall 02
Killzone: Shadow Fall

The game to capture my attention the most was Clubdrive, one that takes the level of detail on car models to a new level (really). Everything has been considered here, and if you can ever stop looking at the cars themselves, you can race against friends in what I believe will be an open-world environment (at least, I hope so).

Sony PlayStation 4 Driveclub 02

Sony PlayStation 4 Driveclub 01

Here are a couple of other exclusives that I’ll toss in at random:

Sony PlayStation 4 The Witness 01
The Witness

Sony PlayStation 4 The Witness 02
The Witness

Sony PlayStation 4 Knack

Sony PlayStation 4 inFAMOUS Second Son
inFAMOUS: Second Son

To help give an idea of what the PS4 hardware is capable of, Quantic Dream showed off models from a selection of its games over the years and noted the amount of polygons used for each. In Omikron: Nomad Soul in 1999, each character had just 350 polys. In Heavy Rain in 2010, that sky-rocketed to 15,000. Finally, with the PS4, models can reach (at least) 30,000 polys.

Sony PlayStation 4 Quantic Dream 01
Quantic Dream Tech Demo

And that sure can result in some detailed models:

Sony PlayStation 4 Quantic Dream 02
Quantic Dream Tech Demo

While it’s hard to tell just from a screenshot, this old man model looked rather amazing. Blinking eyes looked incredibly realistic, as did the skin.

During the unveiling, Gaikai announced that it’d be handling the backwards-compatibility for older PlayStation games, as previously rumored. Huge detail was not gone into, but we’d expect to learn a lot more later this year.

As for the hardware itself, I’d suspect we’ll see that shown off at E3, happening in June. It’s pretty ridiculous to unveil the console and not actually show it, but rolling-out details like this apparently makes a lot of sense to Sony’s plans for the year.

For a lot more PS4 info I’d recommend checking out Kotaku for an info round-up and GameTrailers for a boat-load of videos.

Are you excited for Sony’s latest-and-potentially-greatest console?

  • Chris Searle

    Pumped! I know there will be allot of haters but hardware is so out of date now with the PS3. Hoping to have one under the tree in this house.

    • Rob Williams

      Expect me over for the holidays.

    • Marfig

      (Wall of text. sorry. Can’t or don’t want to make this into an article)
      (Also, not really proofread beyond the basics. So bear with me.)

      “Hater” here!

      But you are right. It was about time a new generation of consoles happened. I do have a lot of doubts however about the sustainability of this market and for how much longer we’ll we witness its growth. Have we climbed the mountain already and all we have in front of us is this long valley?

      3 problems:

      – Apparently continue disinterest in providing backwards compatibility (at least 1 generation behind), either through hardware decisions, or through hardware/software based emulation. The consoles market is notorious for being incapable of providing its users with the ability to play old games through its hardware. The hardware decisions hook gamers to an platform that robs them from the ability to revive old experiences. There are games PC selling on GoG that were developed back in the 80s, and while we can certainly agree that they run through an emulation software device, the fact is that no such thing exist for consoles. Players wishing to revive those games need to get themselves a PS1 or PS2 emulator on their PC, not their console. Meanwhile, as the hardware evolves the harder emulation will come by and the more resources it will demand. Console gaming really is an adept at wiping history.

      – Console playing seems to be moving on the opposite direction of a free competitive market. It’s becoming more expensive to play on a console, instead of cheaper. Consoles are constantly breaking new ground and forcing its customers into new more onerous paths. The PS4 for instance will require extensive bandwidth to take advantage of game streaming. Console games are notoriously more expensive and tend to drop in price only much later. New Hardware needs to be bought with every new generation in an all or nothing proposition; a new console needs to be acquired along with support hardware since the old one will likely not be compatible with the new model. The old model? Obsolete and very soon damaged without much hope of repair and very little chance of being replaced by the manufacturer who no longer sells it.

      – The closed architecture and game titles gatekeeping are ran by a single company into a tight controlled playing ecosystem that is incompatible with the rest of the console market. No other company can decide what goes or not into the game collection of a particular console brand. No other company can produce a competitive hardware device to serve that same game collection. This constant refusal into bringing console play into an open architecture business model, or at least into a free game product market within the closed architecture, robs gamers of the possibility of having a much wider range of games to choose from. Companies like Sony, Nintendo or Microsoft, will apparently keep refusing to adopt an open business model in which they simply publish titles and provide the hardware to a standardized common architecture, forming a unified market simply known as Console Gaming market. Because let’s face it, gamers aren’t really interested in who’s who, but in the Console Gaming experience. Gamers flock to console because they enjoy that experience. They would enjoy it the same was it based on an open architecture and an open market. The current market is artificially imposed by the industry that sees monetary value in segmenting it, not by the gamers.

      Some small signs are already starting to show that perhaps not all is well in the console market. The recent introduction of Tablet PCs into the gaming environment, the continued (and healthy) presence of PC gaming, the smartphone gaming being taken to new levels, along with at least the top three console manufacturers are eventually diluting the market. In this reality can the consoles expect continued growth? There’s some hush-hush already on the web over whether consoles aren’t starting to become irrelevant, or if they haven’t seen already their golden years and it’s all downwards from here. What was unthinkable just one or two years ago, is now being presented in the form of editorials on some gaming news outlets.

      I’ll confess it’s not without a smirk I read these things (last one if I recall was on IGN a few weeks back). Regardless of the validity of some of the arguments, they still all point in one direction; console gaming having to face possible difficulties in the near future. And considering the amount of time I heard the old “PCs are dying” also associated with console gaming, I cannot avoid the satisfaction of a grin.

      Well, I’ll tell you this much in all brutal honesty: I hope consoles end up being removed from the gaming market, or relegated to the distant second rank that they were back in the 90s. Not because I want consoles to lose, mind you. I want consoles to lose so that we can have any hope of a more unified gaming ecosystem. As hardware and software keeps moving the PC closer to our living rooms, I don’t think there will be much room for consoles and their business model. They will either adapt and embrace an open architecture, sharing titles back and forth between the PC, becoming a cheaper (the hardware will always remain cheaper than the PC) offering for gaming, or they will become irrelevant.

      What I wish to see is a software market that isn’t tied to hardware manufacturers. Games that don’t require a separate investment on incompatible hardware in order to be enjoyed. A unified platform for gaming that can be enjoyed in our houses. In that respect I believe consoles undermine that possibility. But I’m hopeful that as the PC is introduced into our living rooms, things are going to change.

      • Rob Williams

        I’d agree that where the PSone and PS2 are concerned, there -should- be backwards-compatibility on the PS4. I base that on the fact that the console is x86-based, and x86-based emulators for both of those consoles exist, and work well. However, even on the PS3, backwards-compatibility on the software-level was only done for the PSone, I believe. For the PS2, the initial launch models included the Emotion Engine chip – essentially the same CPU as the PS2 itself.

        Still, if those earlier consoles can be emulated just fine on the PC, you’d imagine Sony could have added the capability to the PS4.

        As for the PS3 though, the Cell PowerPC architecture was a pain in the ass to develop for. I remember when the console first came out, it felt like the CPU was going to be the death of it, because people hated it so much. I can only imagine, then, how difficult (or impossible) it might be to emulate that on modest hardware, like the PS4. For all we know, our speediest desktops might not even be able to handle the task.

        It could be said that Sony could have taken the PS3 route and included the Cell chip alongside the x86 one for the explicit sake of backwards-compatibility, but as Cell runs -hot-, and has its own complex architecture surrounding it, I don’t think that would have been possible without the console looking like a tank.

        On the bandwidth front, as far as I’m aware, the Internet requirement differs little from the PS3 except where backwards-compatibility is concerned. You won’t need to stream PS4 games (they will be disc-based), and games in the store can just be downloaded as normal. Streaming comes in when you want to play older games that cannot run on the PS4 hardware natively. Given the kind of service Gaikai is though, I -would- expect the ability for people to stream demos of games or perhaps full games -if they want to-.

        This won’t come off as a popular opinion, I’m sure, but I actually like the concept of a closed architecture for game consoles. It ensures that things work as they should. How many problems do gamers have to deal with on the PC? A -lot-. Some people just want to sit down and play a game, not have to deal with ridiculous issues that require them to hit up Steam’s forums. With such tight control, companies like Microsoft and Sony can make sure that all of its customers have as smooth an experience as possible, and game developers can develop their games for exact hardware in mind.

        I’d feel entirely different if there was no such thing as PC gaming. I think there’s room in the market for both open and closed systems.

  • JD Kane

    I find it more than a little ironic that Sony’s next console is architecturally a PC in all but name…

    Having said that, it’s a bit curious that Sony is trying to “do an Apple,” i.e., trying to create a distinct, self-standing ecosystem for its PlayStation brand. Microsoft has already fired its own first salvo trying to do the same (Windows 8).

    It’s an interesting direction for the market, that’s for sure.

    • Rob Williams

      It is ironic to an extent, but it seems like the common-sense route to take. Developers have an easier time developing on x86 hardware (and it’s then easier to make a game cross-platform), so why force them into an oddball architecture they’ll need to learn from the ground up?

      What impresses me more is that the graphics we see above come from an AMD APU. That has to be hella optimized.

  • Kayden

    The damn thing is a PC through and through, just has the Sony and PS logos on it.

    • Kayden

      oops, didn’t see your comment JD. But here is a pic to drive the point home (c:

    • Rob Williams

      As an emulation hound, this is a GREAT thing to me. One of the greatest challenges for emulation developers has been to emulate dissimilar hardware from what we’re trying to run it on. With PS4 based on the same architecture as our desktops and notebooks, there’s a good chance (in my mind) that crafting emulators will be a bit easier. We’re talking not only a desktop CPU, but GPU, too.

      That is, of course, unless Sony made AMD change some critical things that could totally blow that theory apart.

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