The PS4 Event: Hardware – Everything but the box!
So, like many of you last night, I stayed up past my bed-time to watch the Playstation meeting streaming live, where the Playstation 4 was officially announced. We found out a lot of details about the console, from the basic components to the new controller, and we’ll be covering the hardware side of the event right here. Software will be coming in a separate post, as frankly, there’s too much for one article!
From the outset of the show, it was clear that Sony are focusing on making things easy, for everyone involved. They want the gamer to connect to their PS4 ecosystem from everywhere, laptops, tablets, phones, and their own Vita. The message we were getting was that Sony want nothing to come between you and your enjoyment, and the entire platform sounds like it will be tailored to the individual.
Key to this simplicity is the hardware. By liaising with game developers, they have designed a comparatively simple architecture, compared to the PS3s Cell processor. They want all kinds of developers to be able to program games for the PS4, and as such, it’s makeup is similar to a powerful PC. They’re using the standard x86 processor, 8 gigs of GDDR5 RAM (that’s good), and enhanced GPUs, capable of running complex tasks with ease. We were shown a million object physics simulation in real time, running with ease.
As far as the player is concerned, the new controller represents Sony’s first big shift in controller design since the first DualShock. The Start and Select buttons are gone, replaced with one Options button, and a share button (which I’ll get to in a bit). We also get a touch pad on the front, much like the back of the Vita, a light bar for motion gaming, and a headphone jack built in. Each system will also come with a new and improved PS Eye, capable of sensing depth for 3D input. To be honest, it looked a bit like a Kinect, long, flat, sits on the TV.
Remember that share button we just mentioned? Well, that’s probably the new feature that got me squealing like a little girl. You can use this button to share your experiences with your friends, via various methods. You can stream your games live to them, and allow them to comment them live. You can relinquish control to a spectator, letting them show you a secret area, or beating a tough part. You can even use recent gameplay as a video, uploading those once-in-a-lifetime moments up for the world to see, much like Skate did with it’s Skate Reel, but for everything.
We also got a hint of the personalisation that will be coming to the machine. What Sony have teased is that the console will observe what you play, and learn from your preferences. It will then be able to suggest titles you should have an interest in, and even download them automatically for you to instantly try out. It sounds like they really want to push the games up front, and get you playing them with no delays.
The last big hardware announcement was that Sony have partnered with Gaikai to provide streaming game experiences to the console. If the presser is to be believed, you’ll be able to instantly try out games via the internet, and if you like it, you can buy it easily. The Gaikai technology is also what’s being used to make the live streaming functionality work. The best part though? If you buy a game, you’ll be able to begin playing it before it’s finished downloading, which means that somewhere I must have walked into crazy town.
And finally, you would expect a look at the PS4 itself. Strangely, this was not the case, the show was drawing to a close, we were all holding our breath, and… nothing? Perhaps the final form factor isn’t decided upon yet, but it was odd not to see the magic box they’d been talking about for two hours. We did get one nugget though, the PS4 will be available Holiday 2013, which means us poor Europeans will probably be waiting until Spring, based on the PS3 launch.
Interesting stuff all round, and we wait with baited breath for E3 for more about the hardware itself, and to see how many of the bold promises that Sony can make good on.