PS4: What Sony needs to win next-gen

Columnist Chris Morris looks at opportunities and potential pitfalls for Sony in the upcoming console battle

In just under two weeks, we'll know a lot more about the PlayStation 4 than we do right now- well, in theory.

The truth is: The leaks about the PS4 have been coming fast and furious lately. And people with knowledge of the system (but who are still abiding by the NDA) indicate that there's a lot of accuracy in the recent reports. For the sake of argument, let's assume for the moment that the whispers are right. Given what we think we know, what things about the PS4 can put it in a leadership position in the next generation - and what things could turn it into the next Vita?

First, a preemptive note. It's looking highly unlikely at this point that either the PS4 or the Next Xbox will be backwards compatible. There are fundamental hardware shifts that are expected to take place that will make it very difficult for either system to achieve that goal.

That's certain to cause some wailing and gnashing of teeth initially, but it's ultimately a non-issue. Sony and Microsoft smartly assume that the early adopters of either machine will already own the existing console. And while it's a pain in the neck to leave both systems hooked up to a TV, it's one most gamers will endure with a little grumbling.

So, while there are certain to be some parties that argue backwards compatibility could put the PS4 or any system in a leadership position, that's wishful thinking.

That said, there are a few things that could help - or hurt - Sony.

What would help...

Emphasize free - The gaming industry has changed a lot this generation. Core and casual gamers alike have found mobile games that capture their attentions. And they've learned that a good gaming experience doesn't have to cost $60 or more.

"We've seen too many DRM horror stories in the past to take any comfort in any assurances that it's better this time"

Expecting publishers - especially third-party publishers - to retreat from that price point is a fool's dream, though. But Sony has a long history of not charging for online play - and many of the extras that go with its online service.

That's a huge advantage if the company spins it right. Since non-gaming elements of modern consoles are just as important as the gaming elements, Sony could win over fence sitters by offering more free non-gaming content options. What the company has to do first, though, is dramatically improve its user interface. Today, at least, Microsoft has a big advantage in that department.

Ride the social wave - Reports that the PS4 could allow users to share gameplay footage online through a "Share" button were an interesting revelation for the system. And embracing that social aspect of gaming could be a wise move on Sony's part.

TwitchTV currently reaches more than 15 million viewers per month and has seen its month-over-month numbers climb steadily. eSports are also finally starting to break through in the U.S., so allowing gamers to show off their unbelievable kills or funny in-game bugs could make the PS4 a go-to system for people who like to boast about their gaming skills with more than achievement points.

Lead in free-to-play - There's little argument in the game publishing world that free-to-play is headed to America in a big way in the coming years. Microsoft has done some experimenting with the format on the Xbox 360, but Sony has an in-house expert in the field.

Sony Online Entertainment has been the US industry leader in the free-to-play movement - and by leaning on the knowledge John Smedley and team have accumulated, Sony could be in a powerful position with the PS4. It's a risky move for a console company to embrace free-to-play, due to the razor and razor blades model consoles typically follow, but if done right, it could be a paradigm shift that would help the company open up new areas of profitability - and regain a lead in the industry.

What might hurt...

That controller - Reports that Sony has redesigned the controller to include a touchpad made me worry a bit when I first read them. It seems reactionary to the smartphone/tablet industry - and it's a move that hasn't helped the Vita gain any sort of market share. And attempts to change the DualShock at the start of this generation were disastrous.

Whether the touch pad will be incorporated into gaming - particularly AAA gaming - is still unknown. And we may not know if it will be until E3. But to date, console gamers have shown little interest in fusing touchscreens into their existing control structure - and there doesn't seem to be any reason to think they'll reverse their position on that in the near term.


A mockup of the new controller

Overly restrictive DRM - While those reports that the PS4 will not run used games are almost certainly hogwash, the little we've heard about the digital rights management elements of the PS4 is disturbing.

There's nothing wrong, in theory, with a console that's always connected online. But the minute there's an outage and someone wants to play a game to kill time - only to find they can't - there's going to be outrage. And we've seen too many DRM horror stories in the past to take any comfort in any assurances that it's better this time.

The price tag - You might note that although we've seen plenty of chatter about the rumored specs of the PS4, one area no one has discussed is what it will cost. Again, we likely won't learn this at the unveiling later this month, but let's hope Sony learned its lesson from the PS3.

Should the PS4 carry too hefty a price tag at launch, that alone could be enough for some fence-sitters to give up on Sony, convinced that the company is only interested in its bottom line.

More stories

New PlayStation update adds USB storage and cross-generation Share Play

PS5 owners will be able to save game data onto an external drive, but the games won't be playable from there

By Danielle Partis

PS3 was "a stark moment of hubris" - Layden

Sony Interactive Entertainment Worldwide Studios chairman reflects on last generation's missteps and how the company changed course for PS4

By Brendan Sinclair

Latest comments (47)

Neil Millstone Director, White Bat Games8 years ago
Personally, I think the touch pad is a nice idea. It would be nice to be able to use a laptop trackpad arrangement to select from menus or item inventories in games, browse the web, and loads of other stuff. Using a stick/d-pad to select from menus feels really really outdated. For Sony's non-games apps it would be a real win.

And as a bonus - you might see some interesting gameplay come out of it.

Free to play is a mixed bag I think. The FTP games need to be there, but they need to push their full price games hard, as that's where they make most of their money, at least for now.

I don't think they would bet the farm on free to play when nobody yet has proved it works on consoles, and especially for the early adopter market which are more core gamers than casual (sorry, I hate using those terms, but it seems to fit here!)
2Sign inorRegisterto rate and reply
Graeme Quantrill Mobile App Developer 8 years ago
My thoughts are the touchpad is more a gimmick than anything. Unless the controller gets significantly larger, using the touchpad for any form of navigation would become cumbersome when dealing with higher resolution devices (think about tiny touchpad and a 4k UHD screen).

I think the price point is the key. Sony normally release at a high price point; the PS3 and Vita being prime examples. They also serve as examples of how day 1 uptakes can be disappointing.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Graeme Quantrill on 6th February 2013 4:35pm

0Sign inorRegisterto rate and reply
John Bye Lead Designer, Freejam8 years ago
"It's looking highly unlikely at this point that either the PS4 or the Next Xbox will be backwards compatible... That's certain to cause some wailing and gnashing of teeth initially, but it's ultimately a non-issue."
I don't agree with this at all.

For starters, there's a vast number of games now available for PS3 and 360, both on disc and digitally. Failing to make that back catalogue available on new consoles would mean publishers and platform holders missing out on a potentially lucrative source of easy revenue. Just look at all the PS1 and PS2 games available on PSN, or the success of Nintendo's Virtual Console service, for example. An easy way to repackage your old games in digital form for a new platform would be good business for the industry, as well as giving players access to games they might have missed out on first time around, at a lower, impulse buy price point.

Also, as a consumer, I've spent a lot of money on both boxed and digital content for my PS3, not to mention all the free games I've got from PlayStation Plus. I haven't even got around to playing a lot of them yet. But, like most people I suspect, I don't have space to keep lots of consoles beneath my TV. If I buy a PS4, my PS3 is going to end up in the loft or on eBay sooner or later. I'd really like a way to still be able to access my PS3 content on a PS4 when this happens. Not letting me do that discourages me from buying a PS4, particularly early on. Whereas I'm more likely to buy a Vita because I already have a collection of PSP games I bought digitally which I can migrate across to it.

People have got used to carrying their content from device to device, generation to generation, whether its apps and entertainment on iOS and Android, upscaling your DVDs in a Blu-Ray player, the PS2, Xbox 360, Wii and Wii U all allowing back compatibility with game discs from the previous generation, or the PS3 with its vast catalogue of PS1 and PS2 content available for a few dollars a pop. Not allowing back compatibility in the next generation of consoles might turn out to be even more of an annoyance for players today than when the PS3 gave up on back compatibility with the PS2 several years ago.

And like I said, it also stops the games industry from continuing to generate what at this stage is pretty much free money from its console back catalogue. This is something the movie industry has become expert at since the arrival of VHS, but which seems to have largely eluded the games industry for some reason.
2Sign inorRegisterto rate and reply
Show all comments (47)
Jason Alexander QA - Senior Tester, Blizzard Entertainment8 years ago
Media companies are going crazy with DRM these days. I guess they got mad about SOPA and PIPA. But if the internet starts rage'n about DRM its going to cost them. If there sales are down developers will stay on the old system.

It all about money and their inablity to get with the times. Movie compaines still have not got it.
0Sign inorRegisterto rate and reply
Nicholas Pantazis Senior Editor, VGChartz Ltd8 years ago
@ John Given the PS3's frankly awful architecture it's extremely unlikely that the PS4 can be backwards compatible. This is what the article is referring to when it says "fundamental hardware shifts." The Nextbox is more likely to be, but the PS4 has to cope with emulating the Cell, an almost impossible task. I agree that it will be a massive deterrent if I can't play my PS3 games on the PS4, but barring some incredible design wizardry, it's just not going to happen. PS1 and PS2 games shouldn't be a problem, for what little that counts.
2Sign inorRegisterto rate and reply
Nick Parker Consultant 8 years ago
Backward compatibility will be solved by cloud served PS, PS2 and PS3 games. This doesn't get over the fact that you've bought the game and you still would like to dip in and out of it without having to spend a dime.

I'm not sure that the conference in a couple of months will give away everything. I think it could be a partial reveal and a tease of a tease to ask consumers to hold back from buying next Xbox if PS4 is later (which I'm sure it will be, maybe early 2014). A little more at E3 then final specs, prices and dates in the fall.
0Sign inorRegisterto rate and reply
Kevin Patterson musician 8 years ago
I certainly hope that the PS4 and 720 not running used games is hogwash, but I suspect that there is more to it than just yes or no. I believe it will have that feature but it will be the publisher or developer who chooses whether to use it. That means new IP that needs word of mouth and legs to get started won't have it, but maybe a title like Call of Duty would have it, and would fit perfectly with the idea of subscription gaming. Instead of buying a gaming subscription, you have to actually buy the title to play, not rent or buy used. I could easily see this coming, but I hope not.

I am taking a wait and see on the units but so far these rumors have me more concerned than excited for the next generation, and from all the comments and forums I have been reading, I am not the only one.
0Sign inorRegisterto rate and reply
Pete Thompson Editor 8 years ago
I'd hope that along with the PS4 that Sony also updates PSN, and gets rid of the current update procedure and bring it more in line with that of Xboxlive’s streamlined update procedure, because having to download an update almost everytime you power up a PS3 console, then wait while it installs and then wait for the console to reboot gets tedious when all you want to do is play your latest must have title..

PS controllers are far from ideal so let’s hope they've done more than add a touchpad, which, at this point in time I don't really see the need for, but I hope I’m pleasantly surprised..

Backward compatibility for both new consoles is a must in my view.. Not too keen on digital, as like a lot of people I have several X360 & PS3 consoles, and currently I can put any game disc I own for each platform into any of my consoles, if it changed to all digital we would more than likely have to buy a copy of each game for each console owned..

I am looking forward to the launch of both the PS4 & new Xbox..
0Sign inorRegisterto rate and reply
J S Artist 8 years ago
I have a feeling that nobody is going to be winning the next console generation.
1Sign inorRegisterto rate and reply
I hope I don't have to rebuy ps3 games for backwards compatibility
1Sign inorRegisterto rate and reply
Was reading more rumours about the next 360 this morning:
- no used games
- requires always-on internet
- ships with Kinect

Are they trying everything possible to NOT get a sale?

As for backwards compat, I think its essential for (at least) MS to support it. Think about Xbox Live - how much content have people got on that puchased? Imagine losing access to every "application" that was bought? I can't see MS segmenting the service into 360/720 sections. And with the API-heavy design of the 360, there isn't much reason why backwards compat shouldn't work.

Find out soon enough...
4Sign inorRegisterto rate and reply
Greg Wilcox Creator, Destroy All Fanboys! 8 years ago
Sorry, but both consoles are pardon my non-French, fucked at retail if they don't allow any backward compatibility or full offline play (no internet connection) in games that have single player modes. Unless Sony plans to shift its upcoming first party titles (The Last of Us, Beyond and others) to the new console, making them PS3 only will sell more PS3's and not the new system if those games can't be played on it. I own well over 100 PS3 titles and I have zero intention of of re-purchasing, uploading to a faulty SERVER ("the cloud" is a buzzword that needs killing fast) or getting anything that's not a plug and play fix.

Granted, if they surprise me with The Last Guardian as a launch title, I may change my mind, but it'll take a lot of elbow twisting (especially if games get stuck with less than precise touchpad controls as standard issue - yuk)...

Oh well, let the waiting commence...

Sony and Microsoft will lose entire sections of North America where internet connections are awful and people just want to game. Mark my words - there goes Middle America and plenty of parts of this country with shitty or zero broadband...

At least Nintendo knows this and is keeping that flame alive. They're not perfect, but they sure know their user base a lot more, hang the skeptics, analysts and other smug console fanboys who think they're "behind" because they're keeping that segment happy.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Greg Wilcox on 7th February 2013 12:09am

4Sign inorRegisterto rate and reply
Andy Samson QA Supervisor, Digital Media Exchange8 years ago
Who on earth is always connected to the internet? There will always come a time when there'll be connection issues either man made or acts of God and it will instantly turn these $400-500 systems into useless bricks.

These "incontinent", supposedly "true Next gen" consoles are getting ridiculous. You could almost tell that those leaks were intentional since that is how they test the waters and see people's reactions to their half-baked plans. So it seems it's only Nintendo who has the guts to make a firm decision regarding used games. They understand the gaming culture and the need to own physical copies and complete a collection either by buying new or pre-owned ones.

I don't see them ever succeeding without some sort of BC out of the gate. BC makes the transition to the new console a lot less painful. A lot of gamers will sell their old consoles to buy new ones. Obviously games will tickle down after launch and what else will they play to tide themselves during these dry spells in between game releases?
3Sign inorRegisterto rate and reply
Robert Barrow Information Security Analyst 8 years ago
As long as Sony provide all of the features that are available on the PS3 (Netflix etc) out of the box with the PS4 and also supply backwards compatibility via Gakai on day one, I don't see them having much of an issue in moving boxes. If they also provide a similar experience as the proposed Nvidia Shield via the Vita and furnish a more stable ecosystem across all their devices, tablets etc then I can see them being onto a winner this generation. And that seems to be more the case now that MS appears to have dropped the ball with Durango, having forgotten what the primary reason for having a console is.
0Sign inorRegisterto rate and reply
Nicholas Pantazis Senior Editor, VGChartz Ltd8 years ago
@ Robert Having to rebuy my massive PS3 library on Gaikai does not come close to constituting backwards compatibility, and even the games that they make readily playable on Gaikai will not be the same. Have you tried cloud gaming? It's far from lag free, even in the best of circumstances.

Also, don't forget that the specs that were leaked are implying an incredibly expensive box, starting at $500 or more.
0Sign inorRegisterto rate and reply
Adam Campbell Product Manager, Azoomee8 years ago
They can potentially verify PS3 discs and proceed to let you play instantly on Playstation Cloud using a Playstation Passport system. Considering the alternatives its the most optimal solution and free for existing game owners.

As a supporter of the OUYA controller I'm a supporter of a touch pad for PS4. Could have implications for navigating the UI as well as gameplay features.

Finally, I don't agree that the rumoured specs point to an expensive box, though if it is I would be incredibly surprised, especially as these systems are far more modest than their predecessors and using low cost, tried and tested architecture.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Adam Campbell on 6th February 2013 11:44pm

0Sign inorRegisterto rate and reply
Nicholas Pantazis Senior Editor, VGChartz Ltd8 years ago
@ Adam the leaked processor is indeed modest, coming in closer to the Wii U than a modern gaming PC, but the leaked GPU is far from, if the leaks hold true, running at 1.84 teraflops on the Orbis. That's not the top end of current PC tech (around 2.5 teraflops), but it's mid-high, which translates into very high costs on the console end. The Durango's specs are more modest, but given that the rumor claims every unit ships with Kinect 2.0, we'll be paying for that as well. I highly doubt either of these consoles start at lower than $450, and suspect they start at $500.
0Sign inorRegisterto rate and reply
Adam Campbell Product Manager, Azoomee8 years ago
Its not all about the flops though. I still don't see the console being quite as expensive as one may expect. Even if they have a bit more investment on the GPU side, the CPU will be cheaper, blu ray won't be expensive at all as its existing technology and HDD and memory prices have tanked.

If you look at the overall modesty, Ithink we could be surprised. And consider how cheap even laptops are that carry modern Intel Core and discrete graphics architectures. An embedded mass produced system can only be cheaper to produce.

I'm not dismissing you though. It would be easy for design mistakes or oversights to me made that would push the price up to unnecessary levels.... but I'm more positive given we know how important bringing the price down is to Sony this generation and how different their approach to hardware is now.
0Sign inorRegisterto rate and reply
Adam Campbell Product Manager, Azoomee8 years ago
...and their rumoured GPU is still proprotionally less powerful than the RSX or Xenos were when they released in 2005/2006. Should we expect the PS4 component to be pricier?
0Sign inorRegisterto rate and reply
Spencer Franklin Concept Artist 8 years ago
@Adam @Nicholas

I think the price will come in at the high end, but don't you think Microsoft will attempt a 2-year subscription service buy in for its system, at perhaps 149.00 to 199.00, as they currently do with the 99.00/2 year buy in on the current 360..? That may pull in folks who would normally bypass the system completely at that upfront 500.00 cost (even if it actually costs them a bit more in the long run...)
0Sign inorRegisterto rate and reply
Nicholas Pantazis Senior Editor, VGChartz Ltd8 years ago
@ Spencer Absolutely a possibility, but their subscription plan for the 360 has proved unsuccessful to date, so maybe not if they were using that as a testing ground.

@ Adam I don't think it is. From what I can tell their GPU is around the level of a GTX 660, which is a $250 GPU on the consumer end, probably $200 on the manufacturer end.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Nicholas Pantazis on 7th February 2013 12:57am

0Sign inorRegisterto rate and reply
Adam Campbell Product Manager, Azoomee8 years ago
For what its worth the RSX cost between $120 and $150 in 2006. The Geforce 7800GTX 512 it was based on cost more than that (an order of magnitude more). The PS3 components were expected to almost half in price in 12 months and as far as I can tell, some of them did including the GPU.

The PS3/360 were at the high end of DX9-esque chips of the time, PS4/Durango are mid-range.

We have never been able to compare off the shelf prices to console ones, especially given the manufacturing deals involved. This is also a deal from a single manufacturer (first point) who will probably look to fabricate the CPU and GPU on the same die or a multichip package (second point) and its AMD who are still willing to sell GPUs for cheaper on the market so I would expect so within the console market,direct to Sony/MS/Nintendo compared to nVIDIA who have been seen as 'pricey'.

The Cell processor cost more than the RSX, up to $170 according to analysts, the CPU in the PS4 will be cheaper.

Blue ray drives, which were the most expensive PS3 component will not cost between $200 and $300 this generation even if they're improved.

I think its just as easy to imagine a cheaper console.

PS3 launched at an almost record launch price here 425 GBP. Launching at 300 even would be a major improvement and realistic given the components (as a note, the reduced price PS3 40GB that launched a year later was that price).

The Xbox 360 launch price was even more favourable, even the premium model. I would expect Sony to try and replicate that IF possible using a similar approach to the architecture/design.

Edited 2 times. Last edit by Adam Campbell on 7th February 2013 1:27am

0Sign inorRegisterto rate and reply
American McGee CEO, Spicy Horse8 years ago
Any console maker not prepared to compete against something akin to Oculus Rift + Android tablet + blue tooth controller on the basis of portability, fidelity of immersion, breadth of distribution channel/content and connectivity... is going to lose. Will be interesting to watch how much money is poured into this last (losing) round for the stand-alone, living-room bound console. Popcorn ready.
1Sign inorRegisterto rate and reply
Paul Jace Merchandiser 8 years ago
Regardless of what Sony ends up doing with the PS4 they are still going to move systems at launch because they have alot of faithful followers. And in Japan they would buy the system even if they couldn't play used games, there was no backward compatibility and it cost twice as much as the Next Box. But as far as winning the next gen war the title refers to, that just won't happen here in the US. Granted the article is talking about combined worldwide sales but I think Sony's stranglehold of the US marketplace has officially come to an end this gen. Again, the PS4 will still sell well here just as the PS3 has. It just won't be the market leader or anywhere close to it, just like the PS3 wasn't.
0Sign inorRegisterto rate and reply
Nicholas Pantazis Senior Editor, VGChartz Ltd8 years ago
@ Paul Someone hasn't been following Japan very closely I see. Look at the Vita. It's undertracking the Wonder Swan in Japan. Trust me, it needs to be priced right, and it needs to be appealing to consumers due to excellent software, no matter what market we're talking about.
0Sign inorRegisterto rate and reply
Isaac Kirby Studying Computer Games Development, University of Central Lancashire8 years ago
Without Backwards Compatibility my GBP are staying in my pocket. I'm lucky in having a launch PS3 that plays (most) PS2 games, and for this alone it will remain under the TV for many more years.
I think the key selling point that is missed is a Launch line up of Epic proportion. People buy consoles to play Games. No good games, who wants to buy the console? You need to have the Flagship titles (new Killzone, Wipeout, Uncharted) and some big 3rd party support. You need exclusive titles, and something that MicroSoft have been good at - timed exclusive DLC. If a gamer feels his needs will be met, he will invest, if he feels he can get the same elsewhere, he wont.
0Sign inorRegisterto rate and reply
Peter Dwyer Games Designer/Developer 8 years ago
This generation isn't going to be about the strength of the GPU, which some people seem to be crazy hung up on (or they just like quoting hardware facts that Joe Public cares zilch for). So what will be the key factors for PS4 to hit the ground running.

1. 1080p Out of the box on all games
2. A perceived boost in visuals (for boost read post processing effects galore).
3. Upgraded staple franchises.
4. Media support like NetFlix, iPlayer etc. etc. out of the box.
5. Backward compatibility.

One of the keys will definitely be that backwards compatibility. People were pretty reluctant to ditch their old games current gen and many a gamer is still bitter about it. This new gen is going to be hard pressed to convince people to do another write off of hundreds of pounds worth of games unless it's to trade against the cost for the console upgrade itself.

The key thing is that, beyond the expected visual boost, there isn't actually much more these new units can bring to the table. Anything of the quality of Crysis 3 at 60fps is going to be the expected norm for gamers from now on. Other than this the only other seller will be the titles themselves. Visually neither the next XBox nor PS4 will vary much at all.
1Sign inorRegisterto rate and reply
Daniel Hughes Studying PhD Literary Modernism, Bangor University8 years ago
Excellent points in the article, but I can't help but feel the most crucial aspect has been overlooked: software. Whatever bells and whistles are attached, building a healthy core market for a new system requires consistent, quality software releases. That way you attract hobbyist gamers who buy a lot of software for their machine, creating a healthy software ecosystem that will attract sustained third party development. If Sony get every factor here right, even the price, but launch with the wrong software, they will attract an initial wave of consumers (as they did with Vita, as Nintendo did with 3DS/Wii U), but that wave will be short-lived. It might seem a simple point that doesn't need stating, but it's something that's been forgotten with almost every modern hardware launch. People will buy the system for bells and whistles and the brand, but that market won't be very big. You need to rapidly expand your software catalogue to be able to expand your hardware base and ensure all those bells and whistles can first find an audience, which builds awareness for the wider capabilities of your system, which then helps to sell the system to a wider market as the system becomes more entrenched.

You can nail everything on launch day, but if you don't keep that up as the days and years go by, it won't count for anything in the long run. It's a marathon, not a sprint.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Daniel Hughes on 7th February 2013 9:53am

0Sign inorRegisterto rate and reply
"This generation isn't going to be about the strength of the GPU"
" Anything of the quality of Crysis 3 at 60fps is going to be the expected norm for gamers from now on"
"1080p Out of the box on all games"

 You do realize that this absolutely requires a very strong GPU? I don't think you can even overstate the GPU's importance, really.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Felix Leyendecker on 7th February 2013 10:21am

0Sign inorRegisterto rate and reply
Bruce Everiss Marketing Consultant 8 years ago
Sony have the advantage of a large, loyal fan base. But that hasn't saved the Vita. Sony totally misread where the market had gone.

For PS4 to succeed it has to give tens of millions of people what they want. And Sony have to do this better than Microsoft, Nintendo or Apple. The specification is irrelevant, it is the consumer experience that matters. As the Wii proved.
The Cell processor is going to come back and bite Sony again as it takes away backwards compatibility with PS3, vastly reducing what the PS4 can offer to its users at launch.

I just can't see a way out for Sony. They have screwed up everything so badly. And they don't have the financial muscle to buy their way out.
They could out Apple what Apple will do, but that would take an immense change in culture and in business model that just doesn't seem likely.
They could out Microsoft what Microsoft will do, but they just lack the horsepower and are already well behind.

The market has changed from expensive games played by a few to cheap games played by many. The whole console business model has to adapt to this.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Bruce Everiss on 7th February 2013 11:05am

1Sign inorRegisterto rate and reply
Adam Campbell Product Manager, Azoomee8 years ago
Achieving 1080p60 doesn't necessarily require the best GPU the industry can produce.

Some people forget that GPUs a couple of years ago could achieve 10x the computing power of any current gen console. Only hampered by the fact they're in PCs and have very high level APIs - a million engineers and programmers have stated this.

What "GPU Strength" are we expecting? 1080p isn't the biggest achievement anymore, so its not unrealistic even without a bank breaking media box. How consistently we get 1080p or 60 frame per second will depend on some other factors though, such as how high certain studios are targeting.

From a PS4, perspective, I can't imagine anyone frowning at the visual quality Naughty Dog, Santa Monica, Guerrilla or Polyphony could achieve at those resolutions or frame-rates even on a more modest PS4 than some seem to expect.

Its half speculation anyway...

0Sign inorRegisterto rate and reply
1080p@60 is a very big deal if you want to produce groundbreaking visuals that sell games at the same time. Of course you could easily render slightly improved current gen graphics at this kind of quality standard on a mid-class GPU, but this won't be the quantum leap people are expecting. 1080p@60 with meaningfully advanced graphics, tessellation, GI, the lot, definitely needs a high end GPU. Something like 900p@30 with good AA is another story.
0Sign inorRegisterto rate and reply
Adam Campbell Product Manager, Azoomee8 years ago
Well, you are looking at a penalty as much as 4x at 1080 and 60fps...

1080p 30 2x, which isn't so bad. Where you could get 4-5x the graphics at double the current standard res... In a very crudely approximated sense. But still impressive.

I'd say a lot of people haven't pictured what 5x the graphics would look like at 1080p and this is considering we have the advantage of using completely different approaches to rendering...natively without having to support legacy ideas and standards. Well, *potentially* wouldn't want to make it sound like a forgone conclusion ;)

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Adam Campbell on 7th February 2013 1:34pm

0Sign inorRegisterto rate and reply
John Bye Lead Designer, Freejam8 years ago
Couple more thoughts -

- The article doesn't mention PlayStation Plus. This is potentially a killer app, if Sony market it strongly enough alongside the new console (or even had an option that got you the console free or at a discount in exchange for a higher priced two year Playstation Plus contract). For what you pay for online multiplayer and some media apps on Xbox 360 (all of which is free on PS3), you get a couple of dozen free games a year plus one hour free trials on dozens more games and special discounts on other content. That's great value for money.

- If they can get remote play working properly for all games on PS4 -> Vita, and let you use a Vita as a controller and second screen for the PS4, that's potentially a big selling point for both systems, especially if they can bring down the price of the Vita a bit more. I know I'd buy a Vita in a heartbeat if I could play all my PS3 games remotely on it while my wife's watching TV.

- If the rumours about Durango are true, Microsoft could be about to spectacularly shoot themselves in the foot with a killer combo of a bundled Kinect 2, always on DRM, and no support for rental, borrowed or second hand games. That's likely to have a significant percentage of their user base up in arms, consumer rights groups around the world reaching for their lawyers, and specialist retailers upset at losing one of their most profitable revenue streams. If Sony can resist the temptation to jump off that cliff with them (and the signs aren't great for that), they might just pick up the pieces.
0Sign inorRegisterto rate and reply
Nicholas Pantazis Senior Editor, VGChartz Ltd8 years ago
I think you're right Adam that overall what we're looking at in the "next gen standard" of graphics is something akin to Crysis 3's PC settings (on high, not ultra, or The Witcher 3, with its newly released sreens). It's certainly not the quantum leap that we saw from last gen to this gen.

That said, Felix is right that 1080p@60 is an unrealistic hope. Keep in mind that most current gen games didn't even run at 720p, opting for something like 600p (a little higher or lower). Indeed of the ones that ran at 720p, basically none broke 30fps. So even with a decent-sized graphical leap, we'll probably get 1080p, but unlikely 60fps paired with it, because when it comes to selling your game to a console owner crowd, most don't notice or care about fps. They just want it to look as pretty as possible. So like this generation, games will likely push graphical effects over actual framerate.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Nicholas Pantazis on 7th February 2013 1:50pm

0Sign inorRegisterto rate and reply
Isaac Kirby Studying Computer Games Development, University of Central Lancashire8 years ago
To help put the leap between 720P and 1080P into perspective for the non technical people saying its a must have:
720P @60fps is 55296000 pixels a second. (55 Million)
1080P @60fps is 124416000 pixels a second. (124 Million)
1080P @30fps is 62208000 pixels a second (62 Million)
This is double the work just to leap from 720P to 1080P (i know i've over simplified this).
This is before you want to add more post-processing, tesselation, and other new "shinyawesomecoolstuff".
I'd be surprised if PS4/Durango could run current Gen at 1080P@60fps without a problem, i tthink the choice will be 720P @60fps, or 1080P @30fps.
1Sign inorRegisterto rate and reply
Hugo Dubs Interactive Designer 8 years ago
If what we saw as rumors about the next xbox is true, then Sony will win the fight without needing to fight.
Consumers will rather prefer to have a platform where they will be able to buy and sell their games without being restricted by a one time code. Moreover, I don't know about you, but Im not playing online all the time, and I would hate having to be connected all the time to play. (Ubisoft DRM was not a good example to say it was sh..?)

About the resolution, what is the point in speaking about 4k when there is no tv supporting it? I mean, there is, but which are far too expansive at the moment. I just hope we could have a real 1080p and that would be all.
0Sign inorRegisterto rate and reply
Kamil Sappich , EA8 years ago
On a more positive note, the touchscreen could be used for text input with an on-screen keyboard smartphone style.

Searching for a movie on Netflix or writing a message even is a pain in the backside without any additional peripherals.
0Sign inorRegisterto rate and reply
Nicholas Pantazis Senior Editor, VGChartz Ltd8 years ago
@ Kamil it's actually a touchpad, not a touchscreen, so something like what's on the rear of the Vita, according to the rumor.
0Sign inorRegisterto rate and reply
Andreia Quinta Photographer 8 years ago
2014 is going to be extremely interesting to see. The shift in the gaming market in the last 6-7 years has been phenomenal.
0Sign inorRegisterto rate and reply
Mats Holm Battlefront Producer, Electronic Arts8 years ago
I'm surprised so many believe that there will be a "always online DRM", clearly there will be a account based system with one time online check/verification. The whole LIVE infrastructure is already there for this sort of stuff, the things they are opening up with Xbox Live (renaming gamertags, allowing for region change) everything points towards account based registration.

Rentals/Borrowing will be delegated to demo'ish situations, also, why carry a disk around, we all know that there will be a day and date digital and physical release of every game, and I think we will see more people wanting to download their games instead of having disks.

This opens up longtail business again for publishers, no longer restricted by retail shelf.

This happens every console cycle, I am shocked we all have such short memories. Last time around we freaked out about "Patches" and "Online Play destroying the singleplayer" things that the PC had been doing for years. Now the consoles are doing what PC have been doing for the last 7 years. Digital downloads, locking games to accounts, free to play, online verification. Its all there, there is nothing "new" about what any of these consoles are going to do, they will do what PC has been doing for a long long time.
1Sign inorRegisterto rate and reply
Greg Wilcox Creator, Destroy All Fanboys! 8 years ago
@Mats: Fine point, but try telling ANY of that to the millions of gamers with no or low-speed connections, families on budgets who happen to be into gaming or those who just want a less restrictive and less info-grabbing way to play games. YES, they still exist and the more they're ignored, the more money won't be going to these new consoles. The industry in general needs to do better by looking more at who can't play their games and try to find ways to get them inside the circle instead of only looping in those who can be suckered in because they have the cash to drop on day one.
0Sign inorRegisterto rate and reply
Gregory Hommel writer 8 years ago
What does Sony need to win the next gen? Simple. All Sony needs is to not be met with naysayers and negative propaganda out of the gate as was the case with the PS3. Sony has had the superior machine and superior software from day one. The third parties have been lazy to say the least. It didn't take them long to adopt the practice of selling mediocrity since there is money to be made. Look at the most popular game of this generation. The Call Of Duty series has released six top selling titles this gen. and hasn't updated the engine AT ALL. This is business and not surprising, but the Internet and gaming publications have been a buzz with negative, often untrue, remarks from developers and publishers alike. Sony's Home has been blasted off the map despite the fact that it is a well made, densely populated destination that has LOADS of free content, costs nothing and is 100%, absolutely OPTIONAL. If Microsoft offered anything for free it would be a headline on CNN. The PS3 has also been maligned for frequent updates and network outages. Although each update has evolved the network into the slick interface that it is today, adding new content and functionality monthly at its peak, and Xbox Live has had plenty of updates and outages of its own. My last example is personal. We all remember the hacking debacle. The worst part of that was Sony's overly cautious decision to yank service for weeks. I was told by every source that Sony had not properly guarded my personal information and that I was at risk. Sony was nice enough to provide identity theft protection free for one year for all users but I still bit on this story and felt very uneasy about using Sony's service. The next thing I know, my Xbox Live a count is hacked and someone charges $400 worth of Microsoft points to my debit card. Points that I could not see or use on my account, used to buy games that I had no record of nor access to. Microsoft will not discuss the incident in any capacity and my gamer tag is tied up for three months for my trouble. My money was refunded but I never received any information regarding what had happened, how I could protect myself or assurance that it wouldn't happen again. Worst of all, NO media coverage what so ever. My attempts to clue in the public through video game media outlets went unanswered and unpublished.
So you see, I fear that Sony is, in part, doomed from the start. The average video game consumer is less intelligent and less discerning than they were ten years ago. They don't buy their own software and they don't demand quality anymore either. If Sony delivers twenty of the top twenty five quality experiences next gen., as they have this gen.,(with The Last Of Us still to come) I will consider it a victory for Sony, for me and most of all, for the industry. Before games made billions of dollars it was all about pushing the technological envelope. With Sony... it still is.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Gregory Hommel on 8th February 2013 5:52am

2Sign inorRegisterto rate and reply
Adam Campbell Product Manager, Azoomee8 years ago

If PS4 in example is as powerful as the specs suggest and has that much memory, why would there be an issue running current games at 1080p60fps? When a 2006 PC significantly less powerful already can...

I agree that targets for games will not likely go for both high res and high frame rate, if specific to the new generation.
0Sign inorRegisterto rate and reply
Andreia Quinta Photographer 8 years ago
@ Gregory Hommel

From what little I could read of your 'wall' of text I can probably agree with some of the less extravagant points. I'd love to read the hole thing but I really can't without some paragraphs in between.

Edit please? :)
0Sign inorRegisterto rate and reply
Tom Keresztes Programmer 8 years ago
Sony has had the superior machine and superior software from day one.
This is simply not true from the technical perspective. The Xenon is a bit underrated, but it is easier to get the most out of it, and its GPU is way faster than the PS3. Sony was arrogant with the PS3, and ignored the news, while Microsoft did not. And had a much better lineup at launch, and was cheaper. That was the primary reason naysayers were there, as the PS3 simply did not meet the expecations.
0Sign inorRegisterto rate and reply
Gregory Hommel writer 8 years ago
I disagree that easier is better. The developers who got the most out of the Cell made far superior products. If talented third parties had spent more time, even if that meant abandoning the 360, they too would have surpassed the efforts they have released. Look at Konami and MGS4. An early title for the PS3 that is still leaps and bounds above the newest offerings on Xbox and holds up against Naughty Dog and the like.

I love games. I would never suggest that someone who is satisfied with what the competition has to offer pay more to have the best. But, when a new generation launches people don't turn their new machine on to see what new social features it has. No one hurries home, unplugs all their old gear, meticulously places their new console in the entertainment center and says "I hope there is Free-To-Play!" We all want to see how much more realistic and immersive the worlds developers build for us can be.

From title to title, generation to generation, we want to see it grow. Uncharted impressed me, Uncharted 3 blew me away. Gran Turismo 5 became so realistic I suddenly wasn't good at it any more. Infamous was impressive though imperfect. Infamous 2 knocked it out of the park. Conversely, Gears of War was the best of the trilogy. Modern Warfare has devolved each iteration as well. 6 titles on that engine. Wow! Can you argue with that? Give me some real time physics. Give me more light sources. Give me decent AI. The Cell's SPU's make all that possible, even if it isn't as... easy. I hope my empty spaces and separated paragraphs make my rambling easier to read for some.
0Sign inorRegisterto rate and reply

Sign in to contribute

Need an account? Register now.