Hi guys. I’m sure you have all read the articles on the PS4 announcement earlier today, or even saw it yourself when you found time (if not, view it here), so I won’t bore you with the details. If you are interested in reading about them, go to the official PlayStation blog, or if you want to see a breakdown of the game developer videos, view them here. If you haven’t done so, I would recommend it as there are some amazing looking games set for the PS4 release. What I am going to discuss is some of the key features announced and my opinion of them.
Firstly: the PC architecture. As someone who is studying game design, I am really excited about this. It will make development a lot simpler, and for consumers that means more developers will want to make games for it, especially if they are already making a PC version of the game. Cohesion has been a large dividing factor in the past and I look forward to seeing it go. It also opens the doors to cross platform gaming between the PS4 and home PCs. This is a direction I have been longing for. I would love it if they could update DCUniverse Online so that you could play on the same servers as people playing the PC version. I also hope it means much better media streaming from your home PC, as file format is a needless hurdle. This was one area that the Xbox360 excelled in, and I would be happy to see Sony learning from their past mistakes.
Integration is a key focus point for the entire PS4 project. It will be a better partner to the PSVita than the PS3 was, and (I believe) highlights why the release of the Vita was too soon. It is a good device, but nobody had a reason to buy it. Not only will the Vita be providing remote play, but many features are quite similar, such as the ability to go into sleep mode at any point and awaken at that exact point again, even when in the middle of playing a game. The PlayStation app will now allow smart phones and tablets to also link into the game you are playing, like a secondary screen as well as other PSN features. It sounds very similar to Windows’ Smart Glass app, but I am pleased they have nonetheless. Better to be on par than left behind. Not every new feature will be a great innovation, and I think many people forget that when they expect too much. The final point of integration is the “share” button on the new controller (which I quite like as I always preferred the PlayStation controllers so I am glad they stuck with the same general design). This allows you to select a bit of video of your game play and upload it to share epic battles and cool finds with your friends. The integration of the PS4 with social media through the use of the PSN and Ustream will allow you to share your achievements much more succinctly and effectively wear them like badges. In a practical sense, people who view your Facebook profile, for instance, will be able to see these achievements, and not just as a tiny post you need to search for. We will have to wait and see just how useful all of this integration will actually be.
Personalisation is something we all love. The PlayStation Store’s new menu layout is something we don’t. Well, the PS4 software will have an AI to determine what notifications and news you will be more interested in seeing and organising the view accordingly. This is all based on what you view, how regularly, games you own or download, etc. It will even predict what game it thinks you will download next and pre-download it for you. Personally, I would prefer a manual personalisation option, as I find all of this rather presumptuous, and if it is anything like the Facebook advertisement AI, it will show me much of what I don’t really want to see. Whether this is a handy feature or space consuming will depend on the accuracy of the AI.
Speaking of pre-downloading, efficiency and limiting waiting time is something else Sony hopes to do with the PS4. There is a focus on removing download time and loading/booting/installing time. More power is one aspect of this, but in regards to digital downloads, you can start playing as it downloads. While you continue playing the game, the rest of it downloads in the background (ideally at a speed that is faster than you play it, but don’t worry, I don’t doubt that). Speed and accessibility are highly desirable traits for an entertainment system, and I see this being most useful for downloading movies and instantly watching them, as well as trial gaming, which is a wonderful approach in my books. You can now instantly trial anything you want from the PS Store. Share the games you like and only purchase those you want. While yes there was a demo option available for some games, there will now be a trail play option for all games. I feel this is smart as sometimes people do not purchase games for fear of not liking it and not having a chance to try it first.
All in all, I am much more interested in the PS4 now that I have seen the official announcement than I was just listening to rumours. The internet is full of uneducated haters who hate purely for the sake of doing so. I for one am excited about the prospect of this new console and the direction it is headed. The PC architecture is a bonus for developers, and is open to so much potential. Integration is a key focus for the PS4, as seen with the PSVita and sharing capabilities, and personalisation, speed and accessibility are all about creating a cleaner and more efficient experience. I am looking forward to a simpler entertainment experience from this next console.