Sony unveils PlayStation 4: what do we know so far?
Sony has confirmed widespread rumours by unveiling its next-generation gaming console the PlayStation 4.
At an event in New York the Japanese electronics giant announced its latest device, which will eventually compete against Microsoft's yet-to-be-unveiled Xbox 360 successor and Nintendo's Wii U.
Boasting a fast new system and an updated controller set to give the gamer a tighter sense of control, Sony claims the PS4 will enable seamless access to gaming.
But the high-powered event was arguably as interesting for what it didn’t cover as what it did. Guests weren’t told a price or a firm date, and didn't actually see the device itself.
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So what is the PS4 all about and what features will it include? We recap on what we know so far:
The unveiling of the PS4 confirms widespread rumours. The eagerly-anticipated device will succeed the PlayStation 3, which went on sale in 2006.
It is the Japanese electronics giant's first major game machine since the PS3.
The announcement took place at an event in New York, streamed around the world.
What features does the PS4 boast?
Sony described the PS4 as being like a “supercharged” PC. It runs off an x86-based CPU (central processing unit) - similar construction to that found in most desktop computers - and an "enhanced" PC GPU (graphics processing unit).
PS4 system architect Mark Cerny said the fast new system will have a 8 gigabytes of memory and an updated controller called the DualShock 4.
The controller has a touchpad, a headphone socket, a “share button” and a light bar which can be tracked by a camera to detect where the player is. The new pad will give the user a tighter sense of control, Cerny said.
The console also contains new hardware dedicated to video compression to make it a more social device.
Users will be able to pause a game, select a few minutes of recorded video of their most recent activity, and instruct the clip to be uploaded to a social network.
This will then occur in the background while they can return to their game. Sony said it wanted to make sharing video clips as common as it is today to share screenshots.
The PS4's system architect Mark Cerny outlines the DualShock 4 controller here:
And it seems Sony believes two heads are better than one - gamers will be able to allow one of their friends connect to their machine and take control of their character to help if they have got stuck, or allow several friends to watch their live progress as spectators.
This facility uses technology from Gaika, a company snapped up by Sony in 2012.
IGN News sums up the PS4’s features here:
How much will the PS4 cost to buy?
Sony did not announce how much the new device will cost to buy. It might provide details at E3 gaming conference in Los Angeles in June.
When will the PS4 go on sale?
Sony said the console was "coming holiday 2013" suggesting it will go on sale in at least some countries in or around December.
What didn’t Sony tell us?
Sony left much up to the imagination. The gaming giant did not give any indication of its price nor did it show what the console would look like.
There was no mention of whether the console would support 4K - or ultra-high definition - video. However, Sony told the BBC it would have more to say on this "at the appropriate moment".
There was also no mention of what plans the company had regarding films, music, television shows and other digital content offered on the PS4.
How has the industry reacted to the announcement?
The social aspect of the PS4 has been met with praise from many industry experts. Stephen Totilo, editor of the gaming site Kotaku, told the BBC: “To be able to capture video of what you play while you play and share that with people brings console gaming closer to the cutting edge of modern gaming on a PC.
“This system seems smarter and more connected - it doesn't seem like a dinosaur.”
Meanwhile the Guardian reports “the PlayStation 4 has a better chance of achieving early profitability than its predecessor – whereas the PS3 had a custom, Sony-manufactured processor called the Cell (which attracted criticism from developers for being difficult to program), the PlayStation 4 uses more off-the-shelf components similar to those found in PCs (an approach Microsoft has always taken with its consoles).”
Many were bemused by Sony’s decision not to show the device itself. Following the New York event, Wired reported: “As we’ve learned from previous PlayStation announcements, talk is the cheapest thing there is.
“And that’s basically what Sony did today: It espoused a philosophy, said the names of a lot of popular games, but didn’t give us any real concrete information in an age where it’s more important than ever.”
Meanwhile Cnet wrote: “The PS4 looks like it's long on promises and big-picture dreaming, but currently short on clear, concrete reasons why anyone would be tempted to buy one.”
Gartner consumer technologies research director Brian Blau referred to the PS4 as evolutionary rather than revolutionary.
Meanwhile ratings agency Fitch said the PS4 was "unlikely to be Sony's saviour”.
Sony shares fell in the wake of the presentation, ending down 1.77 percent at 1,331 yen on Tokyo's Nikkei index.