Internet killed the VideoStar? - Why has the PS4 been met with some indifference

Did Sony’s PS4 announcement do it for you?

  • Yes

    Votes: 43 25.7%
  • No

    Votes: 56 33.5%
  • Not tonight Josephine but I'm interested to know more

    Votes: 68 40.7%

  • Total voters
    167

hodg100

Distinguished Member
PS Score or PS Miss?

So the metaphorical cat is out of the bag even if, like Schrodinger's hypothetical one, we haven't actually seen it yet. Amidst a hail of lasers and surrounded by spectacular wraparound video walls Sony was in New York to announce its plans for the PlayStation 4. But what did we really learn that we couldn't have already guessed at? Almost nothing as it turned out. OK, so the 8GB of GGDR RAM was a pleasant surprise and means the PS4's operating system should be buttery smooth but what else was there to capture the imagination of the die-hard gamer that tuned in to watch that hadn't already been revealed, by leaks, in the weeks leading up to the event? Which leads us to another question - is it fair to have a pop at Sony for the lack of jaw-dropping moments during the presentation, are we expecting too much?

The internet has become mankind's ultimate rumour mill and hype train, all at the same time. It sparks unrealistic expectations and overzealous scrutinisation at every corner, yet we can't help ourselves but get caught up in it all at times. And that's not Sony's fault. If a rogue developer chooses to break the terms of their NDA in full view of the World, what are they supposed to do? Change specifications or direction at the last minute? Of course not, they just have to maintain their dignity and carry on and, to that end, we think Sony put out an impressive show that largely focussed on the games, with a healthy slice of social networking and multi-device integration thrown in.

In hindsight, Sony's worst kept secret came in the (fairly familiar) shape of the new DualShock 4 controller. The controller features a capacitive touch pad on the front; a new ‘Share' button allowing gamers to upload their gameplay videos and screengrabs to Facebook and UStream; a LED light bar that mimics what the Move controller can do now for motion control and a built-in speaker that will play added ‘mood' game sounds, a la Nintendo's Wii U GamePad. Sony has also integrated a headphone jack (the PS4 will ship with a headset) allowing voice chat, as well as those added effects to be heard more personally. Perhaps the best news for gamers was the news that the R2 and L2 buttons have been re-engineered to be more trigger like but, then again, we had a very good idea that they would go this way.

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Probably the biggest surprise – if you could call it that – came with the lack of physical presence of the PS4 itself. We don't yet know what it looks like and whilst Sony clearly had their reasons – quite possibly the design spec is yet to be finalised – it was somewhat disappointing not be able to get eyes-on. So why go public without the hardware to show off to eager gamers? Possibly because Sony wants to steal a march on Microsoft this time around. Sony got caught napping with the PS3; Nintendo's Wii became a dust gathering social sales phenomenon and the Xbox 360 rode the wave of those with new HDTVs, but no content, wanting a source and defectors from the PlayStation camp, too impatient to wait for the PS3. It's taken the PlayStation 3 around six years to catch-up with the sales of the 360 and they clearly don't want to be in that situation again.

Although we haven't seen the box, we do know something of what's inside and, you guessed it, the partly vague specifications Sony has released tally with those leaked to the web weeks before the event. The PS4 has ditched the dev-unfriendly CELL processor of the PS3 and instead gone with more conventional PC components. Its main processor is based on a x86-64 AMD Jaguar and Sony has also elected to go with AMD for the graphics grunt, with a ‘next-gen' Radeon-based card capable of 1.84 trillion calculations a second, apparently. One of the big themes of the evening was Sony's new developer friendly approach. Former PlayStation Chief, Kaz Hirai, once famously noted the PS3 was made deliberately hard to work with, in order that maximum benefit could be extracted at the end of its lifecycle. It was, at once, a truly bizarre statement and also one that gave an insight into Sony's smug mentality going in to the last gen but we can't deny it's good to see them in less arrogant form going in to this one.

The architecture of the PS4 is such that hardware backwards compatibility with PS3 games looks to be a bridge too far and so – we're almost tired of saying already – as expected, Gaikai has been tasked with solving the issues of delivering PS3 (and PS1/PS2) games to the new console. This will be achieved based on Gaikai's technical expertise in cloud based games streaming and whilst details on exactly how they plan to achieve this were relatively sparse, what seems clear is that Gaikai are going to be central to the future of the PlayStation Network (PSN). Their technology will not only be utilised for back catalogue streaming but also for games that are digitally downloaded, where they will be ‘instantly' playable due to the titles being sent in sections, and the ability to jump straight in to specific sections of games.

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Apart from the console, itself, the only other thing missing, of note, from our predictive feature is the announcement of the PS4 as a means to deliver Ultra-HD movie content. We know from the, just passed, International CES that Sony is intending to announce details of a delivery service for the next generation of video content at some point this year and we still fully expect the PS4 to be a part of that but there was just an inkling of a chance they would drop that pixel-massive bombshell last night. That it didn't come to pass might be a bit of a let-down to AV fans, such as ourselves, but the theme of the event was focussed on the games and social media aspects and, in hindsight, it was wise of Sony to hold any kind of 4K announcement back for a dedicated launch. If, indeed, there is to be one.

Reading around the internet in the aftermath of last night's events, there seems to be a palpable undercurrent of apathy in many quarters but what we did see of the games certainly looked highly impressive and certainly, in terms of visual prowess, leagues ahead of what we have on the current batch of consoles now. Admittedly the demos were running on PCs behind the scenes but, presuming the tech inside them was fairly representative of what's under the hood of the PS4 and the developers chose not to embellish them too unashamedly, then we're in for some absolute belters at launch, or soon after. A number of what could amount to being AAA titles were shown; there was a fabulous looking new IP introduced by Marc Cerny (Sonic 2, Spyro, Jak & Daxter, Ratchet & Clank, Crash Bandicoot); Killzone 4: Shadow Fall appeared sublime, if highly generic, again and an interesting take on the racing genre from Evolution Studios (Motorstorm) that mixed up charging through courses with a social aspect. A couple of already promising looking titles confirmed for the current gen – Destiny and Watch_Dogs – were announced for an extra spot of polish from the PS4's hardware too.

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Not only did we to see some fantastic gaming prospects, some of the features built in to the PlayStation 4 should really enhance the experience also. Sony has promised an instant resume ‘suspend mode' which will allow players to put the PS4 in to a virtual off state (call it standby, if you like) but it can instantly be arisen from its slumbers with the game ready to go, instantly, from where you left off – a far cry from where we're at now. The PS4 will also be able to run multiple apps, meaning you'll be able to pause a game and instantly load up the web browser to, for example, find a walkthrough or tip if you're stuck. Not only that, in times of trouble, a friend will be able to jump in to lend a hand, if needs be. What's not to like there.

Naturally and (yawn) predictably, Sony's next home console will interact heavily with tablets and smartphones with the launch of the PlayStation App. The app will allow your mobile device to act as second screen for maps, inventories and the like and will be available for iOS and Android. What, no Windows? We'll guess they'll leave that for the NextBox. It's not a new idea, of course, Microsoft already has SmartGlass and Nintendo the Wii U's controller, but that doesn't stop the possibilities being potentially exciting. Sony spent a fair amount of time discussing their handheld VITA prior to the official announcement of the PS4, with the promise they would unlock its potential for the living room later in the year but what was clear and (we dare not say it) anticipated, is that the VITA will interact greatly with the PS4, with the ultimate goal being that every PS4 game will become playable on VITA through a Wi-Fi connection. Cleary the VITA needs a boost and we can imagine many PS4 owners being tempted by that prospect.

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Other reasons to be cheerful included a confirmation, following the event, that one of the pre-event rumours proved to be unfounded. Namely, the blocking of playing second hand titles will not be implemented, although we still suspect there will be some form of purchasable pass needed to do so. For those that don't like to be perma-connected to the WWW, further good news comes in the fact that the PS4 will not require a persistent internet connection to play and the console will be fully updatable whilst switched off. Which PS3 owner here hasn't been frustrated, on occasion, by its tedious and lengthy updates?

So with so much to look forward to why the mixed reactions, who's to blame for the pervasive and abundant cynicism? It's you, me and the whole of the internet, that's who, and one day we're going to spoil everything for ourselves by virtue of our insatiable thirst for knowledge and our having the means to so instantly access it. Perhaps it's time to take a step back and look forward to what the PlayStation 4 will bring us – great games – rather than concentrate on the negativity. Don't let fun eat itself and let's see what E3 brings in June. You never know, we might get to see what it looks like.
 

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witchdrash

Active Member
The PS4, at least according to IGN, will support 4K video, if that's the case it's high on my purchase list and my PS3 now easily outranks my 360, simply because of the number of Blu-rays I own.

I guess the reason it wasn't mentioned is Sony still haven't figured out how to actually get those videos on to the PS4, but I'm hoping for an announcement before release.

Of course the last piece of the puzzle will be affordable 4K displays, may be waiting a while for those :/

PlayStation 4 Won't Support 4K Games, 3D 'Not a Focus' - IGN
 

Mark Botwright

Distinguished Member
The overwhelming air of cynicism was a little odd, but perhaps an understandable reaction. I think there's a feeling that slick presentations and bold claims usually precipitate a clunky experience - big on ideas but with questionable implementation - that won't have the kinks ironed out for the best part of a generation.

I'm hoping this isn't the case with the PS4/Vita combo as that sounds almost like the super VMU i've long been waiting for since the Dreamcast. It definitely seems like Sony have planned for the whole ecosystem of this generation far better than the last as their handhelds really should be pushed to the fore considering the tech they house.
 

AV Junky

Active Member
Like many others, I'm sure, I'm hoping that Sony will extend the 4K download service, introduced as a sales perk for 4K TV buyers, to include a PS4 distribution system. No rush of course, as very few buyers out there at the moment with pockets deep enough to cough up the 25K needed for an UHD TV!
 

IvorB

Active Member
I'm not sure where there is an air of cynicism over this. Most folks seem pretty happy with what Sony revealed. Developers are happy, analysts are happy and most gamers are happy. Obviously online you will always find a selection of cynics no matter the announcement but I think most people are pretty amped. Now the Nintendo reveal: that was met with an air of cynicism.
 

golden phoenix

Distinguished Member
I'm not sure where there is an air of cynicism over this. Most folks seem pretty happy with what Sony revealed. Developers are happy, analysts are happy and most gamers are happy. Obviously online you will always find a selection of cynics no matter the announcement but I think most people are pretty amped. Now the Nintendo reveal: that was met with an air of cynicism.

the ps4 announcement and the inevitable reply from MS has sealed the fate of the wii u which has arrived 3 years too late
 

IvorB

Active Member
the ps4 announcement and the inevitable reply from MS has sealed the fate of the wii u which has arrived 3 years too late

I don't know what Nintendo were thinking with that. I can only guess that they hoped to capture the mass market and ride the wave like they did with the Wii. But that clearly hasn't happened. So now they are stuck with a dreadfully under-powered console that is going to get left in the dust, especially if it isn't that much cheaper that MS and Sony's boxes. They need a rabbit in the hat very soon.
 

Greg Hook

Moderator & Reviewer
I don't know what Nintendo were thinking with that. I can only guess that they hoped to capture the mass market and ride the wave like they did with the Wii. But that clearly hasn't happened. So now they are stuck with a dreadfully under-powered console that is going to get left in the dust, especially if it isn't that much cheaper that MS and Sony's boxes. They need a rabbit in the hat very soon.

I posted a response to this sort of question on another thread. But Nintendo failed to appreciate just what made the Wii a mass market product. It was the very fact that it was unlike any console released previously and that people who would never dream of buying a 'gaming' console bought one. My sister, my Aunt and Uncle to name just two. It wasn't a sit on the couch and use a controller type console.

But with the Wii U and the new controller it has made it a more traditional console, thus stopping the market that bought the Wii from buying the Wii U. Including the issue that a lot of Wii owners seem to think the Wii U is an expensive add on and not a new console, which I presume stems from the fact that they have to use their old Wii controllers with it.

This could be the last we see from Nintendo if the console fails in a major way.
 

IvorB

Active Member
I posted a response to this sort of question on another thread. But Nintendo failed to appreciate just what made the Wii a mass market product. It was the very fact that it was unlike any console released previously and that people who would never dream of buying a 'gaming' console bought one. My sister, my Aunt and Uncle to name just two. It wasn't a sit on the couch and use a controller type console.

But with the Wii U and the new controller it has made it a more traditional console, thus stopping the market that bought the Wii from buying the Wii U. Including the issue that a lot of Wii owners seem to think the Wii U is an expensive add on and not a new console, which I presume stems from the fact that they have to use their old Wii controllers with it.

This could be the last we see from Nintendo if the console fails in a major way.

That's a difficult trick to repeat. I really can't explain what happened with the Wii. Middle-aged and elderly women where chatting about getting it and playing it. It was surreal. But that's over now. Those people have moved on. The bubble burst as it was destined to.

Nintendo should have realised that it's the core gamer audience that gives a console sustainable life not some passing fad. Their tablet controller idea has tanked with the Wii audience and the chances of the WiiU being a hit with core gamers is minuscule with PS4 and new Xbox on the horizon. The publishers are already disinterested. They have probably seen the writing on the wall already. Not a great situation to be in for Nintendo.
 

Mr.D

Distinguished Member
For most people the Wii became a dust gatherer 3 months after the novelty wore off.

The PS4 seems decidely this gen. So much for Sony's and fanboys much trumpeted Cell technology; now its architecture seems little different from the next Xbox.

All Microsoft have to do is spec slightly more powerful off the shelf hardware and the PS4 will be last gen as soon as the next xbox is released.
 

IvorB

Active Member
For most people the Wii became a dust gatherer 3 months after the novelty wore off.

The PS4 seems decidely this gen. So much for Sony's and fanboys much trumpeted Cell technology; now its architecture seems little different from the next Xbox.

All Microsoft have to do is spec slightly more powerful off the shelf hardware and the PS4 will be last gen as soon as the next xbox is released.

Well, Microsoft's specs have been leaked just as Sony's were and, if the leaks are true, it would appear the MS console is weaker than Sony's in graphics processing and RAM.
 

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