Sony reveals developer-centric PlayStation 4

Update: System architect Mark Cerny unveils console, specs, streaming and peripherals

At its press conference this evening, Sony finally announced its next-generation console offering, the PlayStation 4, for release in "holiday 2013."

Sony Computer Entertainment CEO Andrew House set the stage for the reveal, talking up the PlayStation ecosystem so far. According to House, Sony has been focusing on "reconceptualizing how the next-gen gamer would want to play PlayStation." The company expects to "revolutionize not just the console," but also Sony's "entire portfolio of products."

"Our goal was to create an architecture that would facilitate the expression of [developer] ideas"

Mark Cerny

Sony's new lead system architect Mark Cerny came on stage to detail the new console, citing an 8-core x86 processor, "enhanced GPU", 8 GB of unified GDDR5 memory, hard drive, and a secondary custom chip to handle social features and uploads/downloads.

The system will come with Sony's new DualShock 4 and a stereo camera peripheral to track position of controller. The new DualShock will feature enhanced rumble, reduced controller latency, a touchpad, share button, headphone jack, and lightbar to identify players.

According to Cerny, Sony was looking to "create a platform by game creators, for game creators." Sony stuck to a few main design principles for gaming on the PlayStation 4: Simple, immediate, social, integrated, personalized. Cerny also showed off the title he is currently directing: Knack, an action-adventure title by Japan Studio, featuring a small robot who can form himself out of various part around the world.

"Our goal was to create an architecture that would facilitate the expression of [developer] ideas," said Cerny.

For players, the PlayStation 4 will feature an instant suspend and resume feature, not unlike a portable console. The system is also heavily built around the cloud and social sharing.

With the DualShock 4's share button, players can stream video to friends instantly, with the second custom chip handling encoding and uploading. Video compression and decompression is handled on the fly, allowing for seamless uploading of gameplay. Sony's ultimate goal is to make game video sharing "as easy as sharing of photos is today". The custom streaming hardware also allows players to being playing digital titles immediately, while the game is still downloading.

Gaikai CEO Dave Perry then came onstage to announce the full integration of Gaikai with the PlayStation 4 console. Sony is partnering with Facebook and UStream to make the entire system work.

"What we're creating is the fastest, most powerful network for gaming in the world," said Perry. "With Gaikai cloud technology, our goal is to make free exploration possible for any game in the PS4 library."

Not only can players send their live gameplay to friends with the share button, friends will also be able to jump in and remotely play for you. Developers can also insert buttons into the steam, allowing friends to drop special items into your game. This remote play also extends into allowing PS4 gameplay streams to run on the PlayStation Vita. Cerny demoed Knack on the Vita, controlling and viewing the game on the portable, while the PS4 was doing all of the hard work.

Perry said that the eventual aim of Gaikai was to allow gamers to play PlayStation 3 games "everywhere" and on any device. Sony has greenlit the expansion of the Gaikai network to build "the world's fastest gaming network" worldwide.

UPDATE: Sony has released documents showing the system specifications for the PlayStation 4 and its accessories.

According to the first document, the PlayStation 4 will feature:

CPU: x86-64 AMD "Jaguar", 8 cores

GPU: 1.84 TFLOPS, AMD next-generation Radeon based graphics engine

Memory: GDDR5 8GB

Storage: Hard Disk Drive Built-in, Blu-ray Optical Drive (BD 6x, DVD 8xCAV)

Misc: USB 3.0, Ethernet (10BASE-T, 100BASE-TX, 1000BASE-T), IEEE 802.11 b/g/n, Bluetooth 2.1, HDMI, Analog-AV out, Optical Digital Output

Sony will also be releasing a PlayStation App for iOS and Android, allowing players to use their tablets and smartphones as second screen for their systems. This is not unlike Microsoft's Xbox SmartGlass app currently available on Android and iOS.

According to the second released document, the DualShock 4 will have a stereo headset jack for the Mono Headset that will be bundled with every PlayStation 4. Unlike it's predecessor, the DualShock 4 can also charge while the PlayStation 4 is on standby. The updated PlayStation Eye for the new console will include two cameras and four microphones, so players can control games with body movements or vocal commands. The Eye also has face recognition, allowing visual user logins.

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Latest comments (17)

Adam Campbell Product Manager, Azoomee9 years ago
I don't see why the animosity for the western presence. Whist I too would have expected Kaz...
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Greg Wilcox Creator, Destroy All Fanboys! 9 years ago
Andrew, stop stirring your own racist conspiracy pot, please. There were plenty of Japanese press at the event and I believe a small SCEJ crew shooting footage from what I saw outside and a bit of inside before I had to leave. I'd say Kaz and others may be at E3 with the actual console to show off. Today seemed to me more game/gamer focused annoncements.
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Matt Martin Editor, GamesIndustry.biz9 years ago
Kaz Hirai is bigger than just the PlayStation now. It's Andrew House's division and he's getting better as a frontman. Even Michel Denny didn't come across as a robot.
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Show all comments (17)
Christopher Chambers Games Research Analyst, Electronic Arts9 years ago
Andrew, your response is immature and racist. Please, think before you post next time.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Christopher Chambers on 21st February 2013 3:12am

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Doug Paras9 years ago
So wondering why the primary Execs of Sony which are Japanese(don't kid yourself) don't show up on this kind of an announcement is racist?

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Doug Paras on 21st February 2013 4:03am

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Damien Bigini Press writer 9 years ago
Andrew : forget you anti-occidental bias and realize what are the perceptions right now in the world. It may appear sad, but being (too) japanese is now perceived as negative in the videogames and technology fields. The past 6-7 years have been years of total struggling for japanese developers ; the japanese gaming market is more and more insular and disconnected from the rest of the world ; there is only one japanese game in the 10 top selling games on the PS3 (3 in the top 20) ; there is no japanese tablet on the market ; Japan has no leading standard-defining player in the mobile phone industry -> I understand they wanted the PS4 to appear as an absolutely non japanese product, and as an absolutely global product.
It may change in better or in worse for Japan in the next years, but that's how things are right now, and Sony knows it.

Plus Mark Cerny is one of the brightest minds in the industry.

Edited 2 times. Last edit by Damien Bigini on 21st February 2013 4:07am

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Peter Dwyer Games Designer/Developer 9 years ago
Well my apparently stupid comment is now vindicated at least. I knew that the event HAD to be about the games and gamer and not about YABB (Yet another Black Box) under the TV. The gamer isn't wowed by specs anymore. In the current gen Sony themselves shot their own feet with over emphasis on the CELL and it's apparent capabilities. Capabilities that never materialized. The gamer woke up at that point that hardware specs are pretty meaningless for the most part.

This time around they have basically said what I thought i.e. this thing is a gaming and media box based on PC architecture. The only real kicker is the 8gb of DDR5 unified. Which I'm sure is a response to Microsoft saying they would have 8gb minimum of memory. I think what is going to throw people next is just how similar the new XBox is to this PS4.

I'm reading some major PR nightmares coming though. No backward compatibility just a promise that Gaikai will eventually do a streaming service for any game. This is a pipe dream of course and Given the specifics of the CELL I'm certain it wouldn't be emulate-able at any reasonable speed on PC based architecture anyway (if at all).

So overall I'm pleased that Sony finally get it and are firmly targeting the gamer and not hyping up hardware which would never be able to meet the hype. Very pleased with Infamous but, would have liked the hero reveal to have been Cole saying "What! You thought I was dead!" I'm pretty certain most of the crowd would have had a standing ovation for that one.
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Jonathan McEnroe Freelance 2D artist 9 years ago
The machine sounds absolutely fantastic, designed for gamers and developers to take advantage of its rich feature set. That Killzone: Shadow Fall was an incredible display of the machine's capabilities showing an incredible leap in console graphics and immersion. Very excited for E3 an what Sony have in store from their first and third party developers! :D
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Dave Herod Senior Programmer, Codemasters9 years ago
How is my comment racist? What I say is 100% TRUE.
It's s damn shame to see how low and pathetic westerners have made this company.
Andrew, that "how can it be racist when it's true?" is the line every racist person trots out when they're called out. Stop making things worse for yourself.
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I loved it! 8gb DDR5 is great news. Market realities aside, the ps4 sounds like the definitive gamers machine. I think it will need some time for the implications of so much ram to sink in, you could load most current gen games all at once and play them with no loading.
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Dave Herod Senior Programmer, Codemasters9 years ago
You obviously don't get it. I don't care about what you think about Sony. Howard Stringer or anyone at Sony is not a representative of all "Westerners", so don't make sweeping generalisations about them.
It's funny how people like you have no problem seeing an All westerners team running a Japanese unit of Sony but you have problem with me saying it.
Why is that funny? Of course I don't have a problem with it. I wouldn't have a problem with it if they were all Japanese. Or if they were all African. Or South American. Or a mixture of everyone. What I do have a problem with is you implying the blame because they're of a particular ethnic origin.
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Matt Walker Production Coordinator, Capcom9 years ago
Basically if you wanna present and sell to Westerners, theyre generally not impressed by broken English. Was anyone impressed by Squeenix's ability to present today?
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Shane Sweeney Academic 9 years ago
Japan has been in empirical decline since 1997, and its a pretty well researched case study. Other countries like Australia are often compared to Japan as the decline spiral lines up (just a decade apart). It's not just the video games sector.

Japan for a very long time was the largest consumer of games and technology in the world. This has not been true in a long time. It's pretty clear that Japanese companies have been struggling over the past five years or so, domestic sales used to be enough to support AAA development but this is no longer the case.
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Anthony Chan9 years ago
why all the hate??? this is the last type of debate I would expect to see on this forum... Please save this non-sensical bashiness for the <game of choice> forums where trolls thrive.

I don't see why Kaz has to be there considering this hyped up reveal was no more than a clunky powerpoint presentation. Yes, I agree it did satisfy my hunger for PS4 info, but without the snazz and hoop-la it kind of felt "meh". I am looking forward to E3 where the entire executive team of Sony will probably make a united stand to present the actual PS4, with full on marketing demos and actual game demos and trailers to drool over.

But yeah, @Andrew: please take your spaz meds... or at least take off your jaded glasses... Sony's poor decision making is not related to any occidental vs oriental spat you are implying.
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Roland Austinat roland austinat media productions|consulting, IDG, Computec, Spiegel Online9 years ago
@Felix: The 8 GByte RAM announcement was the most exciting thing for me too. The games, meh - they looked better. Obviously as the tech is seven years old in PS3 by now. But making things look better isn't really a sales pitch at least for me anymore. I do like the instant freeze/save feature a lot, by the way.
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So... how many people are looking forward to the 'share' button? I'm not sure about the idea of "Watching other people play games". Why would I want to instead of playing games myself? I'm sure they have some plan for it, but on the surface it just sounds like an extra button on the controller that I would never use. I mean... does it really have to be a controller button? Are you likely to press it so often that it needs to be there, rather than on a system menu? I really want it to be useful, but I can't for the life of me think why it would be. Anyone?
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John Bye Lead Designer, Freejam9 years ago
Off the top of my head - eSports, tournaments, getting tips by watching top players or more skilled / experienced friends playing a game, watching a friend playing a game to see if it's something you might be interested in playing yourself without actually having to go round to their house...

Perhaps more interesting are the possibilities for games that are built around this feature. Think about what could be done with the Media Molecule demo, for example. You could do live performances by puppeteering your creations, or let people watch you create worlds. Or imagine a music game where you can jam or do a freeform DJ set live with people around the world watching you, even if they don't own the game themselves. And record that performance and upload it to Facebook or YouTube afterwards.
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