Many expect this year to be the final swan song for the current generation of consoles with Nintendo already announcing their next-gen console, but what about Sony and Microsoft? Many insiders expect them to start making moves toward the next generation in 2012 – we run down what we know so far about the PS4 and Xbox 720.
Rumours Of Its Existence.
There’s already been wild spread speculation with regards Xbox 720( or whatever they call it), but the PS4 is rumour mill has been somewhat slower on the uptake. Apart from the odd slip up from the top brass Kaz Hirai said earlier in the year: “We’re not deliberating on a PS4 or a next generation machine.”
But in May, Sony began to make different noises about the follow-up to the Playstation 3 – when Executive Vice President and Chief Financial officer Masaru Kato apparently confirmed that Sony is working on the PS4.
The revelation took place during a conference call to investors where he was asked about increased R&D costs – usually associated with when a company is knee-deep in the creation of new technology products. There’s no doubt that a lot of money will have been splashed on Vita – but many speculate that it’s also PS4 related.
This was confirmed when speaking to Eurogamer “This is a platform business, so for the future platform – when we’ll be introducing what product I cannot discuss that – but our development work is already under way, so the costs are incurred there”.
But as usual the Sony exec tried to back track claiming his quote had been misinterpreted, in an interview with the Wall Street Journal on 31 May 2011, Kato denied that he was specifically referring to the PS4, saying “Some people misread what I said.” Ok we believe you Kato.
It’s thought that Sony will continue to use the same chip architecture that is found in the PS3; the advanced, multi-core, incredibly hard-to-develop-for Cell processor.
Now this would be great news for many developers who have continually criticise the difficulty of developing for the Cell. They won’t have throw away all they have learned over the years when it comes to making games for the tricky Cell processors.
Throw in the fact that Sony has sunk $3 billion on the tech and if that stay the course it would allow for easy backwards compatability with the PS3. And, most importantly, Sony bought the Cell factory from Toshible for £400 million. So it seems very unlikely that they will abandon this tech having invested so much money already.
It’s thought that Sony will stick to their tried and tested distribution channels of Blu-Ray and, of course, a greater emphasis of digital distribution But we still expect them to keep physical media.. Especially after what they leant from the defunct PSP Go which dropped physical media altogether and failed in the process.
As Kaz Hirai told Develop, “we do business in parts of the world where network infrastructure isn’t as robust as one would hope. There’s always going to be requirement for a business of our size and scope to have a physical medium.”
Playstation Network To Be Improved ?
According to Reg Hardware, It would be a decent idea to remodel the Playstation Network as Xbox Live is much more pleasant place to be and generates a lot revenue than the PS Network. We expect a compulsory paid service with a greater emphasis on social aspects which would replace the current freemium model they currently have now with Playstation Network.
What about a PS4 release date?
Sony has always claimed that there is more than enough untapped power left in the Ps3 for the console to have 10 year life cycle. But this isn’t the only factor: if the competition jumps the gun they might not have a choice to move their plans forward. If sales of the current console drop like it with the Wii – market forces might play their role too.
Speaking to PSM3 magazine, the Bethesda exec said that gamers were happy with the current generation of console tech and that he didn’t expect to see an Xbox 720 or a PS4 before 2014.
“Where we go after this is an interesting one,” says Sony Computer Entertainment UK boss Ray Maguire. “The online side is very interesting and is a big part of our business going forward. But in terms of what sort of technology we’ll be using, it’s far too early to say yet because we’re only half way through the lifecycle of PS3 – there are many years to come on that machine.”
So quite when we will see successor remains to be seen. It may well be the case that Sony’s hand might be forced if Microsoft and Nintendo get a head-start on them. Sony wouldn’t want to be the last out of the blocks again. We all remember the slow start the PS3 had – we’d imagine they wouldn’t want a repeat of this again. Even if there’s plenty of life let in the ol’ girl yet.
When do you think we’ll see the PS4 ? Will they ditch physical media to keep the cost down ? Let us know below.