Today at 6:00 PM ET Sony will unveil something PlayStation related. Most assume the event will be the announcement of the PS4, which has been developed under the codename Orbis, and I agree. That’s probably what it will be, but what should we expect from a PS4? Rumors of specs are all over the internet, but I decided to think about the experience instead of just specs. Here are my predictions…
Based on what Sony has said, you shouldn’t expect a huge, revolutionary jump here. On the plus side, Sony seems to be abandoning the cell processor for a more traditional setup (rumors say it’s got an 8 core AMD heart), making it easier to port over games from other consoles and to develop for in general. I expect the PS4 will be capable of more on paper, but for the first two years or so, I think the difference in graphics between the PS3 and PS4 will be about as wide a gap as we saw between the PS2 and XBox 360 for the first year or so: clearly better but not awe inspiring. After all, the PS3 already offers 3D and 1080P, so there won’t be some crazy new feature to add. All we’ll get is higher quality graphics at the same resolution. I expect the PS4′s graphics to be on par with a new mid-range gaming desktop until the new generation of console graphics is completely eclipsed by PCs. That should be 2 ½ to 3 years after launch. Compared to the WiiU, the only console from the PS4′s generation on the market so far, I expect better graphics but not the huge gap we see from the Wii to the PS3.
I’m not an audiophile by any means, but given Sony’s desire to make the PS4 an entertainment and gaming console like the PS3, you can expect some decently high end tech here. My assumption is that, like the PS3, the PS4 will be able to put out the kind of sound you’d expect from Sony’s top of the line blu-ray player.
It’s not totally clear how games will come. I expect you’ll be able to buy games in stores on blu-ray disks and also from the
PSN Store PlayStation Store. However, with Sony’s acquisition of Gaikai, there could be some game streaming on the horizon. I’m thinking PS games from older consoles will be available via streaming. Think On-Live only from Sony and on your PS3. However, I don’t expect backwards compatibility with your PS3 discs.
There has been lots of talk about how DRM would work, whether physical media would make it to the PS4, and about streaming games. I expect that we’ll see more games that require a constant internet connection for DRM purposes, but I don’t think we’ll see that mandated by Sony. I’ve heard the next XBox might use always on DRM, but given the slow initial sales of the PS3, I don’t think Sony will be going out of their way to include such a widely criticized form of DRM. That’s why I expect Sony to avoid criticism by leaving it up to developers, making the developers the bad guys in the eyes of the fans. And you thought politics were just for Washington.
There will almost certainly be a PS exclusive title at launch. I’d like for that title to be a new InFamous game, but I expect it will be a Little Big Planet game and maybe something Killzone related. For some reason, I also think we’ll see the return of Crash Bandicoot on the PS4. Not sure why, but it’s what my gut says. I’ll cross my fingers and hope for a studio exec with a sense of nostalgia. Unfortunately, I’m pretty sure the Resistance franchise is dead, and I don’t expect it to reappear on PS4. Pour one out for the PS3 exclusive.
This generation will bring a successful, console-based MMORPG. Whether that’s on the PS4 or not remains to be seen, but I think it will be. After years of playing second fiddle to XBox Live, Sony wants PSN to offer a better online experience than Microsoft. A good MMORPG and features like cross-game chat will tell the world they are serious about their online play and community.
I don’t think much will change here, just improve incrementally. Your streaming apps like Hulu and Netflix will still be there, but I think we’ll see more first-party apps and services from Sony. For instance, Crackle will probably get a real app instead of soldiering on with the PlayStation browser. Sony made it clear with the PS3 that their console was about entertainment, not just games. Everything Sony has said about the PS4 indicates that’s still the plan.
As far as gaming goes though, I think you’ll get the features that set XBox Live apart from PSN. They might not surpass XBL, but they’ll almost certainly match it. Where Sony could surpass Microsoft is in tying PSN accounts to controllers, allowing players sitting side by side on the couch to each be signed in to their own account.
The PS3 launched with 20 and 60 GB models. These days they go as high as 500 GB. I don’t expect much more than that. In fact, I would say the PS4 could launch with less available storage than the PS3. Sony, really the whole entertainment industry, is pushing for more cloud services. I expect lots of cloud saves and streaming services. In fact, I doubt we’ll see anything over 500 GB until the first hardware revision, and even then, I doubt it. This is one of my riskier predictions, I think. Betting against more storage usually only works on Apple devices.
You would be hard-pressed to find someone to go on record saying the PlayStation Move was a huge success. However, as much as it may annoy hardcore gamers and those of us over 22, motion gaming is here to stay. We’ve already seen prototype controllers shipping with dev kits that appear to have Move hardware, touch pads and speakers built right in, probably a microphone too. What I think we will see more of on the PS4 is voice control. Sure, there will be plenty of games where you dance and run in place, but I don’t think that motion is the big takeaway from motion gaming. We’ve already seen voice controls on our smartphones and on the Kinect, and I think it’s the most appealing thing to come out of motion gaming for the hardcore gamer. I had no interest in getting a Kinect, and I’m not sure when I last powered up my 360, but being able to shout my Shouts in Skyrim had me thinking about it. Plus, if you are in to shooters, the voice tool is probably pretty handy for controlling your squad.
Controllers and Wacky Peripherals
I don’t expect a Rez vibrator or anything like that, but I do think we will see a few new features, connectivity with other devices, and a Wii U-style approach of offering regular and advanced controllers. The PlayStation Vita will probably offer some kind of connectivity. The PSP never really worked as a controller for the PS3. In fact, I’m pretty sure all you could do with it was navigate the XMB. I predict that will change significantly on the PS4. With two thumb sticks, the Vita actually has nearly the same controller layout as a PlayStation controller. Yes, it lacks L2 and R2, but those could easily be mapped to the Vita’s touch sensors. As a point of reference, think of the Wii U tablet controller then make it kludgier.
This was covered in motion gaming, but again, Move will be back in some form. It probably won’t look like an ice cream cone anymore, given the prototype controllers that appear to have Move capability built-in, but it will be there. Let’s hope there are games that make it a worthwhile addition, so it won’t end up as the PS4′s Sixaxis. Also, as much as everyone hated Sixaxis, it will be back as part of PS4′s motion gaming component, but hopefully we’ll have less “Shake your controller. Do it now. Shake it. See, Sony? We used Sixaxis like you told us to.” I expect there to be a $40-$50 controller that doesn’t have Move, speakers or a microphone and a $70-$80 Move version. Let’s call them Dual Shock 4 and Dual Shock Move. (Dual Shock Move! New band name, I call it!)
You should also expect better connectivity with other Sony devices. Since PlayStation has really become MediaStation, I expect the ability to stream photos, music and video from your phone/tablet/camera/etc. to your PS4 over Wi-Fi. There will probably be some in-game connectivity as well, like play calling in sports games, showing a map in open world games, etc. You may even be able to do with non-Sony products, but I expect that will require some homebrew action or a Sony app that is only available on Sony-approved devices à la PlayStation Mobile (nèe PlayStation Suite). Again, I think you can expect a kludgier version of their competitor’s tech, in this case Microsoft’s SmartGlass.
Some of that may sound pessimistic, but once the bugs are worked out, I think the PS4, like the PS3 is now, will be the most versatile console on the market. The problem will be the growing pains, and of course, nothing big is really possible without good developer support. Hopefully nothing will be too broken at launch.
P.S. The thumbsticks on the controller will stay symmetrical.
Predicted Launch Window and Price
Holiday 2013 (October/November) for $400 and $500 with PlayStation Plus. There is no reason to suspect that Sony will stop offering base and premium versions of their console. The distinctions will be storage and maybe the advanced controller.
I’ll be back tomorrow to break down just how wrong─or how right─ I was.
UPDATE: There won’t be a follow up post. I was mostly right, and by now you have all the information you want anyway.
I’m a big fan of the Elder Scrolls, but let’s be honest. The Dawnguard expansion for Skyrim was, by most accounts, mediocre at best. Even after getting so involved with Skyrim that I blogged about my experience within the game, I remember watching the Dawnguard trailer and thinking, “that looks awful and the vampire lord looks ridiculous”. Then the PS3 release date was never announced, and I didn’t feel cheated. I was just glad to be saving $20 because, as bad as the Dawnguard DLC looks to me, I wouldn’t have been able to stop myself.
Hearthfire, on the other hand, sounds much more interesting. This DLC will allow players to buy property and build a home. It will also allow players to build families by adopting children. This all sounds very “Sims”, but creating your own home, having a family and owning property sound like nice expansions to the almost year-old RPG. It has been announced that Hearthfire will be available on Xbox 360 on September 4th. PC and PS3 launch dates are still TBA. In fact, the Dawnguard DLC launch date is still TBA on PS3.
There’s lots of buzz online today that Rocksteady is working on a new game for their stellar Batman franchise, and rumor has it that this new version will feature the Justice League in some capacity. According the Variety, the addition of Justice League characters to the series is part of DC’s effort to raise the profile of the super hero team before making a movie.
Everything I’ve heard says that the game is said to be a prequel that explores Batman’s first encounter with the Joker. Supposedly the game will be influenced by 1950s Silver Age comics. I love most things pertaining to Batman, but here’s hoping they secretly mean Golden Age and that we’re getting this Batman and not this one. Either way, I’ll keep an open mind. I’m sure even if Rocksteady chooses to embrace the Silver Age style, we’ll still get a good game and much less silliness than comic book fans would normally associate with the Silver Age. Still, I have to say that I’d rather see a Batman Beyond sequel than a Silver Age prequel.
You should be seeing this latest Batman game on shelves sometime in 2014. The question now is will it be part of the PS4/Xbox 720 launch window?
I have been following E3 for years. I even went once. E3 has delivered some excellent surprises over the years, but nothing really feels that way this year. I’ve been following E3 2012, and everything that looks interesting was announced long before E3. Still, I can’t help but be excited by one of the games because it looks it will be exactly what fans have been hoping for.
What is it? Not SmartGlass or the Wii U. Cocked Hammers has my attention, but not even Jason Bateman and Will Arnett can make me care about Call of Duty games. No, what has me excited this year is South Park: The Stick of Truth, and it looks awesome.
After however many months it’s been since its release, I just noticed that there is a little Dishonored flyer in the Skyrim box, and while, I’m still not quite sure what Dishonored is about, I am strangely excited.
Oddly enough, my discovery of the months old flyer happens to coincide with the announcement of a release date for the game. That right, the steam punk-looking game about being assassinating folk will be out this October on the 9th. It will be on PS3, Xbox 360 and PC. Unfortunately, the Bethesda Blog is listing Games for Windows as the only digital distributor. As a Steam user, that’s a bummer, but maybe that part of the announcement just hasn’t come yet. Fingers crossed.
Skyrim is getting DLC this summer. It’s called Dawnguard and will be a timed exclusive on the Xbox 360. I’d expect it to be available on PC and PS3 after a month or so. More details will be announced at E3.
Just when I thought I was out they pull me back in!
Lulz Security members Ryan Ackroyd (aka “Kayla”) and Jake Davis (aka “Topiary”) of London; Darren Martyn (aka “pwnsauce”) and Donncha O’Cearrbhail (aka “palladium”) of Ireland; and Jeremy Hammond (aka “Anarchaos”) of Chicago have all been arrested by the FBI with help from LulzSec member and
snitch FBI informant Hector Xavier Monsegur (aka Sabu).
LulzSec is known for carrying out DDoS attacks on a variety of websites including the CIA’s and Fox News. They also claimed responsibility for an hack on Sony systems carried out in response to the legal action they were carrying out against George Hotz for jailbreaking the PS3.
LulzSec is frequently tied to Anonymous, and the FBI is trying to brand this as a victory over the hacker group. Anonymous tells the story a little differently…
Anonymous has no leaders, we will still be stronger than ever. LulzSec has been dead for a while.—
Anonymous (@YourAnonNews) March 06, 2012
It will be interesting to see if LulzSec will go down as the internet folk heroes they are or if government and media can twist their image in to something ugly. Only time will tell.
You may have heard about Double Fine’s recent Kickstarter success. They have raised over $2 million in donations to help create a point-and-click adventure in the classic style. After falling out of favor in the 1990s, point-and-click adventure games have seen a resurgence in recent years due to the increases in casual gaming and episodic games. Given how well the genre lends itself to touchscreens, I expect the growth of point-and-click games to continue. LucasArts has re-released two Money Island games and created ones. Telltale Games has even go so far as to take over and resurrect classic franchises, turning them in to episodic point-and-click adventures.
Here are some of the best point-and-click adventure games of the 90s. Read More…