The PlayStation 4: What we hope for and what we think we might know

hodg100

Distinguished Member
Orbis set to go in to Orbit

In less than a week's time the future of Sony's PlayStation brand should be looking clearer; in other words we – and the World – expect them to unveil the PS4 at an event being held in New York on February 20. For console gamers this is obviously huge news, especially for ones like us, that feel the current crop (Wii U excluded) are feeling tired and too long in the tooth. It's been more than 6 years since the launch of the PS3 and much has changed on the gaming – and technology at large – landscape since. The rise of tablets and smartphones mean we have vast numbers of games to choose from – a lot of them free and others very inexpensive – and the way we're interacting with our media has also radically altered. The PS3 is/was, after all, quite a capable multimedia device so we should be expecting even more from the coming generation.

So what are our hopes and expectations for the PlayStation 4? Let's start with a touch of rumour and speculation: what the internet does best. At the end of January the internet became awash with leaked specifications for the PS4 and they seem fairly credible. Sony looks like it is to ditch the notoriously tricky to work with Cell processor in favour of a more conventional PC type architecture, which should make the developers' jobs more straightforward. Especially in its infancy, the PS3 was subject to a number of low quality cross-platform ports but this shouldn't happen with the PS4. For that matter, if similar rumours doing the rounds about Microsoft's next XBox hold true, both new consoles will be far more similar, internally, than last time around, which should be good news for gamers.

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The various leaks suggest that the PlayStation 4 will have more graphical grunt than the NextBox with a GPU based on AMD's R10xx cards and faster RAM, which should be able to manage the majority of games at 1080p at 60 frames per second whilst maintaining decent effects. If they can nail that as a standard, our TVs will thank us for it – most operate optimally at 60Hz and, of course, possess a native resolution of 1080p. The other rumoured specs of a 160 GB HDD, a Blu-ray drive, four USB 3.0 ports, an Ethernet port, HDMI and optical output, and 2.0, 5.1 and 7.1 audio channels aren't that interesting but the choice of 4 low powered dual core CPU's is quite illuminating. It would suggest the PS4 will be able to operate efficiently, dependent on what it's tasked with doing at a point of time. For instance, when full on gaming, all cores could be in use but if it's something very simple such as streaming Netflix, it could switch in to a ‘low power mode' to reduce internal heat and, therefore, noise – one of the issues about using the PS3 as a media streamer.

It must be a time for a redesign of the Dual Shock Controller, it's form has barely changed since the PS1 days and although it gets the job done, it does feel dated. Those same sources claim the PS4's controller will be more evolution than revolution but the ‘news' the R2/L2 buttons will get the proper trigger treatment can only be good. It's also believed the PS Button will be displaced by a capacitive touch-screen that will replace its functionalities whilst adding others; it will accept two-point multi-touch input and also act as additional input button when called upon. There is some talk it will allow a ‘Share' function, presumably where your progress, trophies and the like get reported through your Twitter, Facebook etc feeds. It's even been mentioned that it will allow you to upload video clips of your gameplay to the likes of YouTube, which would be interesting.

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Of course the World is now all about sharing and the interaction of devices and we fully expect the PS4 will be able to play a central part in your media set-up whilst playing nice with PCs, phones and tablets as well as Sony's handheld. It's widely known the next PlayStation goes under the working title Orbis and it could, perhaps, carry over to the retail model. That handheld we mentioned is, of course, the PS Vita which has a name meaning &#8216;Life' in Latin and, as you could probably guess, Orbis means &#8216;Circle', so the &#8216;Circle of Life' can be made between the two and we'd expect great interactivity between the two consoles, with hopefully a Wii U-like ability to transfer the gaming experience over from the TV to the small screen. It would also be good to see the Vita used in more imaginative ways, as Ubisoft managed with <i>Zombie U </i> and its use of the 2nd screen. It would also be nice for that option to exist through apps for tablet and smartphone but, even if it doesn't, expect some heavy-grade interactivity &#8211; especially with Sony's Xperia range of mobile devices. Sony has already intimated that the PS4 will be as much about new ways to play as it is horsepower so we can't wait to see what they have in the locker.

But what about the games? With everything else it's likely to be capable of, it's almost easy to forget what the core duty of the PS4 really is but, as we mentioned, we're expecting great things, particularly as, being a console, it has a fixed hardware allowing developers to tailor techniques and practices &#8216;to the metal'. The creators of the sublime Little Big Planet franchise have just set up a teaser on their games page with the promise of a new project. It would be no surprise if that was the 3rd instalment of the home console franchise as a launch title for Orbis. Perhaps we'll also see other Sony stalwarts previewed too; we'd certainly love to see a new Uncharted soon after launch and the new hardware looks ready for what GT5 was promised as being. Imagine if GT6 actually followed soon after launch&#8230;Obviously that could never happen.

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Like we said in the introduction, the gaming landscape has undergone metamorphic changes. It's guaranteed that PS4 gamers will have the option of downloading all games digitally and we assume that, ultimately, that's how Sony and the publishers want it, to cut down on the risks of piracy, for one, but also to put an end to second hand sales, for which they receive no revenue. It's a vexed question for the console manufacturers these days; on the one hand it has the benefits to them mentioned above but, on the other, they may not want to lose the high street presence of retailers that actually get their hardware in to the publics' hands to stir enthusiasm. In these days where we can use any number of other devices to fill our gaming time or cater for our media requirements they need momentum early on so the High Street &#8211; such as it is &#8211; will be kept in the loop, at least for the time being, with the physical media of Blu-ray. That doesn't necessarily mean they're going to take the sales of 2nd hand games lying down, however, and more rumours suggest both Sony and Microsoft have been looking in to ways of &#8216;disabling' discs running on the machine it wasn't first registered on. We'd assume there's a revenue stream open to them here in selling reactivation codes, much in the style of the current online passes for multiplayer.

We can envisage a day when all our gaming is subscription based. It's going that way for music and video so why not for games. Already the likes of Onlive and Gaikai have been paving the way for this streamed future and, indeed, Sony recently purchased Gaikai. It wouldn't take Dr Watsons' best mate to deduce that the acquisition was wholly related to Orbis. In what manner that is remains unclear but it's suggested Gaikai may be tasked with providing a streaming service that delivers PS3/PS2/PS1 titles as it's thought there will be no backwards compatibility embedded. That would seem like a good solution as the infrastructure for streaming (what we hope will be) top quality PS4 games isn't there for most right now.

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Sony's own PSN+ service, launched well in to the PS3's lifespan, may provide some clues to the future. For an annual subscription of £30-40, members can download a number of full retail titles each month that remain playable throughout the span of PSN+ membership. It does have other benefits but &#8211; let's face it &#8211; that's why we all signed up. There's no doubting that the infrastructure and operability has, this gen, largely lagged behind that of Xbox Live. To be frank, it's lacked the slickness and connectedness of Microsoft's platform although, of course, it's not forced you in to paying for the privilege of playing online multiplayer on a mostly peer to peer basis. The operating system of the PS3 was a big reason things like cross game chat and a party system didn't happen but we'd fully expect that Sony will get it right this time. They aren't Nintendo and the company as a whole is streamlining and looking like it means business, again.

And Sony are in a number of businesses they could exploit with the PS4. Sony's now unified Entertainment Network (SEN) runs across a whole host of their products; it covers TVs, Blu-ray players, mobile devices, PCs and probably more and offers access to lots of content Sony, themselves, are responsible for producing. There's Sony Music, of course, and Sony Pictures which both have a number of sub divisions. So where are we going with this you might ask? Well, apart from the obvious thought that the SEN will be absolutely central to the PS4's user interface &#8211; which, whilst we're at it, needs to follow that of the 2013 Bravia TVs instead of the old XMBore &#8211; we're also looking at the future of video.

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So what is the future of video? For the time being, at least, it goes by the name of Ultra High Definition (or, &#8216;the format formally known as 4K') and it was the biggest news at the recent Consumer Electronics Show (CES) held in Las Vegas. And, guess what? Sony is absolutely central to the U HD movement. Not only do they manufacture 4K TVs and Projectors as well as Blu-ray players and AV Receivers capable of scaling lower resolutions up to UHD but they're also involved with the shooting of movies, and now TV, in the new format. Sony said at CES they would soon unveil a distribution system for Ultra HD and we have to suspect that the SEN will be part of that, in one way or another. The implication is that the PS4 will be U-HD capable &#8211; PS4K, if you like &#8211; and we'd not be in the least bit surprised if the new PlayStation was capable of delivering 4K resolutions at the relatively low frame rates used in film making and perhaps beyond. It may not form part of the announcement next week but we'll eat our DualShocks if the PS4 isn't involved with Sony's masterplan. We'll be very disappointed if its only involvement is a token 4K scaling feature. Did you hear that Sony? Don't let us down.

So the stage is set and, unless the Sony event provides a let-down of near biblical proportions, by this time next week will will actually know some cold hard facts. There's no doubt that we're ready for a new console but are you and what do you hope the PS4 will bring to the party?

Our games team discuss these points and more in this month's podcast

Time:00:56:38 | File Size: 78mb | Direct Link
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IvorB

Active Member
Nice article. I've been a pretty loyal and contented Sony PlayStation customer for three hardware gens now. The PS3 is currently the beating heart of my home entertainment RIG. Heck I just bought a PS Vita. Using the Vita has made me very excited for future Sony gaming products. It's just such a slick, joyous little machine that delivers everything it sets out to flawlessly and has a number of really awesome surprises and features in it. I can't believe I stuck it out with cell phone gaming so long.

For PS4 I would like:
-God Tier gaming performance
-Fix the goddam music player (dynamic song queue, enqueue tracks, browse tracks while listening, better interface).
-DolbyTrueHD in 3D (which is not possible on the current machine) so I can finally watch Transformers in 3D.
-Spotify
-Not sure about 4K. I don't want some upscaling solution, I want native content. I'm not buying a 4K TV for some upscaled stuff.
-Dualshock I am actually happy with. You can't improve perfection. If they want to spice it up that's fine but they need to be really careful messing with the basic design.
-XMB, it's elegant and simple and I really like it but I agree that we will need some new razzmatazz for PS4 just to spice things up.
-Something like Near from the Vita would be great so you can see local players close to you, what they are playing, challenge them to multiplayer etc. Discovered Near last night and it's really awesome.
-NO MOTION CONTROLS
-Maybe voice controls so my PlayStation can finally respond when I talk to it :).
... can't think of anything else right now so surprise me, Sony.
 

Foster

Distinguished Member
Great read, I just hope they don't go down the Microsoft route of gimmick gaming ala kinect.
 

humanfish

Well-known Member
Exciting times indeed.
With so much speculation on the net, a lot of it wild, are we bound to be somewhat dissapointed? Sony surely can't deliver on everything, and can they really surprise us.

Either way, I'm saving my money.
 

Scooby2000

Distinguished Member
Looking forward to this.:)

Not a fan of plantation + myself, £40 per month and if you don't pay that month on month you can't continue playing a game you downloaded, It can often take several months for me to finish a game with the little time I now have, so very expensive for a couple of games, not for me. Though I do download some games Id also like a physical copy, I don't want to always rely on a decent internet connection or a persons server. I know this is the direction of things but still, its nice to have a hard copy of the big games.

I support any anti piracy measures(I worked in the industry) but also take games to play round friends for games nights, if I can no longer do that then the console better be easy and hardy enough to be carted about.

I like the idea of four independent CPUs, makes sense with all the complaints about noise and the need to cut power costs.

Though Im pretty sure games won't be 4k for a lot of years 4k support would be good, though I guess it won't be for another 5-6 before 4k will be widely used so no big deal for me if its not there.

I want more thought put into same room multi player too, its great to play online but doesn't bear having a mate or two or three round.
Id like to se 3D glasses used to get two player full screen or even four player with just one split, that would be fantastic, sure the gfx take a hit but that's very secondary to me when you can enjoy a game with friends.
Too much reliance on an internet connection is a bad thing IMO, its a must to have sure, but not everyone has a great connection and what about those times your connection goes down? Your entertainment for the night is screwed, had it happen to me with a new game before.
 

IvorB

Active Member
Looking forward to this.:)

Not a fan of plantation + myself, £40 per month and if you don't pay that month on month you can't continue playing a game you downloaded, It can often take several months for me to finish a game with the little time I now have, so very expensive for a couple of games, not for me.

PlayStation Plus is about £40 per YEAR not month. It's about three quid a month. £40 per month would be very expensive indeed.

PlayStation Plus frequently asked questions - PlayStation Support Guides

It's actually an amazing service. Just bought a Vita and I haven't even needed to buy a game yet just playing what's on Plus. They have great big name games for free; it's not cheap tat.
 

vader100

Well-known Member
Got to have PS3 game backwards compatibility. That was a major problem with the PS3.
 

Steven

Senior Moderator
Online syncing of game saves really ought to be free, rather than an enticement as part of PS+ even though relative low annual cost

Unlike most people on tech sites, sufficient power for flawless 1080p 60fps from Ms and Sony in the next gen would be acceptable to this consumer
 

Scooby2000

Distinguished Member
PlayStation Plus is about £40 per YEAR not month. It's about three quid a month. £40 per month would be very expensive indeed.

PlayStation Plus frequently asked questions*-*PlayStation Support Guides

It's actually an amazing service. Just bought a Vita and I haven't even needed to buy a game yet just playing what's on Plus. They have great big name games for free; it's not cheap tat.

I've used it myself I was going by what had been posted above, sounded expensive but everything's getting that way so thought it may be a new thing for the PS4.;)
 

Scooby2000

Distinguished Member
Online syncing of game saves really ought to be free, rather than an enticement as part of PS+ even though relative low annual cost

Unlike most people on tech sites, sufficient power for flawless 1080p 60fps from Ms and Sony in the next gen would be acceptable to this consumer

Yep actual in-game 1080p at 60fps with few drops would be great, will require some power to do with the big games, 60fps anything near constant isn't easy, most current gen games aim for 30 and miss it for a long time in development, takes a lot of work.

4k gaming will take some serious dev time and a lot of texture memory and storage for the high polly assets. We may well see some cool stuff in 4-5 years but actual in-game wise I think it'll be 6-7 years.
 

sirlukas

Active Member
The only few things I want from next PS are:
1. Bigger controller, a'la XBox one (or two versions, one small for kids like the current one, and one for men ;))
2. SACD support, why was it removed in the first place?
3. Better software, Music Player etc. Greater flexibility, a'la Android OS.
 

s1mon

Standard Member
No network connection lag have noticed this on the FAT ps3 and my thin one on home wired! network. (nowt wrong with my network).
 

Ambient Fish

Active Member
Got to have PS3 game backwards compatibility. That was a major problem with the PS3.

Still playing GT4 on my PS3, For me the game is all important I don't care about it's ability to do other things, first and foremost it has to be a kick arse gaming platform. As for 60fps at 1080P, I have a Lap Top with an i7 3635QM Quad Core processor, 8 gig Ram and a Nvida GT 640M GPU and it can't do this trick, it cost a grand so I worry about that one.
 
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Member 605849

Standard Member
Great article :)

I think the most noticeable up front change in terms of graphics for PS4/Xbox "720" will be the fact that all games will be running in full 1080p resolution instead of all being upscaled from 720p (or in some unfortunate cases lower!). Potentially with some fancy AA going on to boot.

That along with the much increased processing power allowing much higher resolution textures/improved effects should rule out the next generation from looking like anything less.

I think 4K support for movies will definitely be a possibility - the graphics chips rumoured as being used already support it since the previous generation. There's no chance of it being used for games however. Even the latest hardware is still a way off being able to draw fast enough to cover that.

This could potentially be the last round of serious console hardware to launch before streaming systems take over. As soon as the average home internet connection hits 60Mbps and above - streaming of uncompressed 1080p content becomes a reality and the case for expensive home hardware becomes hard to justify.
 

IvorB

Active Member
Great article :)

I think the most noticeable up front change in terms of graphics for PS4/Xbox "720" will be the fact that all games will be running in full 1080p resolution instead of all being upscaled from 720p (or in some unfortunate cases lower!). Potentially with some fancy AA going on to boot.

That along with the much increased processing power allowing much higher resolution textures/improved effects should rule out the next generation from looking like anything less.

I think 4K support for movies will definitely be a possibility - the graphics chips rumoured as being used already support it since the previous generation. There's no chance of it being used for games however. Even the latest hardware is still a way off being able to draw fast enough to cover that.

This could potentially be the last round of serious console hardware to launch before streaming systems take over. As soon as the average home internet connection hits 60Mbps and above - streaming of uncompressed 1080p content becomes a reality and the case for expensive home hardware becomes hard to justify.

If this hardware gen last another seven years (perhaps even less) as expected I would bet my life that the number of people on anywhere near 60Mbps will be a very small minority here in the UK. So I think we will see another round of hardware for sure (and probably another after that).

More likely is we will see two tiers of service: those who are concerned about quality of experience and those concerned with convenience/cost. For the former a dedicated machine is the only way and I think machines will continue to be produced for this segment. Streaming can capture that audience that doesn't care that much about graphics, controller response or audio and will happily stream a games over the web via some service or other.

Formats get bigger and bigger these days especially with 4K on the horizon. This increase will outstrip available bandwidth for a very long time to come. The streaming experience will always be compromised in this case. So a non-streaming solution become necessary.

I do agree that 4K for games is off the table for this upcoming gen.
 

IvorB

Active Member
I've used it myself I was going by what had been posted above, sounded expensive but everything's getting that way so thought it may be a new thing for the PS4.;)

Let's hope it isn't. For £40 per month I would like my games delivered on a silver tray with an accompanying three course meal.
:D
 

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