PlayStation 4: It's ok.

I will admit now I was not at all happy after the PS4 reveal. Like, a genuine sense of disappointment washed over me for a good 12 hours.

I've had some time to reflect on it, and I have a very different outlook now.

The Console Itself...

Their focus on a developer friendly environment is a gigantic shift away from the PS3. The PS3's hardware was difficult to work with. Very difficult.

And that was done very deliberately.

"We don't provide the 'easy to program for' console that (developers) want, because 'easy to program for' means that anybody will be able to take advantage of pretty much what the hardware can do, so then the question is, what do you do for the rest of the nine-and-a-half years?" --Kaz Hirai

There was a very apparent hostility towards this decision, from a lot of developers. It's not hard to see why.

PS4 seems to be almost the exact opposite.

The x86-64 CPU is a 64-bit, 8-core Jaguar made by AMD, and it has a huge amount of unified RAM. This is orders of magnitude more developer friendly and an incredibly welcome shift away from the PS3. This is a true multi-core CPU unlike the Cell, and this time around, Sony are actively helping devs by improving their dev tools.

You will most likely notice less of an improvement this time around (for example, compare early PS3 games to recent ones), achieving the best performance from the machine will happen relatively quickly because of the hardware familiarity.

What this also means, is that the PS4 is potentially being positioned as a multimedia device, more so than PS3 before it. Some people will love this. I just hope they keep it as a games console first and foremost.

Finally, there is one thing now confirmed which many of us suspected all along. The PS4 is not the technological leap that the PS3 was. It's about equivalent to current mid-high tier PCs. However, this is probably a more sensible strategy for Sony, given their huge operating losses from the PS3.

...Or Lack Thereof

Ironically, the PS4 did not make an appearance at it's own unveiling.

We have to consider what the form factor of a console actually means.

To us as gamers, who genuinely love the systems that play our games, it's important.

To the actual performance of the machine itself? Seeing it sat on a podium through a screen for 20 minutes will not tell us anything of value. We won't be made aware of that until they are in full domestic use.

It might be jarring to us as those who live and breathe video games, but we do not have to see it to understand it.

The Social Aspect

The video sharing?

Hype as hell.

The Facebook integration?

...........eeeehhhhhhhhh.

The Games

This was the weakest showing for me and what caused my initial devastation.

Here's a list of every confirmed project.

  • Knack
  • Killzone: Shadowfall
  • Driveclub
  • inFamous: Second Son
  • MediaMolecule's "creative" title
  • Deep Down
  • Watch_Dogs
  • Diablo 3
  • Destiny
  • The Witcher 3
  • The Witness

I suspect I know where most of their software budget went, and quite honestly Call of Killzone does not appeal to me in the slightest. And it's not just the general gameplay, it deeply upset me that the game they chose as their centrepiece was so heavily influenced by the stale tropes of the 7th generation, all the while hoping I would be distracted by the graphical upgrade. Did I actually see any gameplay that couldn't be achieved on a PS3?

No.

What did I want to see? I don't know, possibly some sign of genuine A.I. improvement, maybe some hint of truly emergent scenarios or even just a bloody big battle with millions of independent NPCs. Something that showed me the power would change how I play, not just what I see.

For god's sake, I didn't even see a single use of the touchpad.

Is it for games? Is it just something to make media browsing easier? How the hell should I know, they seemed to forget it even existed.

The other major thing: Most of these are games I will be able to play elsewhere.

This might sound horribly pessimistic, but here's the thing I realised:

The PlayStation Brand Has Always Been About Strong 2nd And 3rd Party Ideas

The important thing is that OTHER developers find a home on the console, and the PS4 has made great, great strides in making this happen.

They have clearly actively reached out to developers, and those developers were willing to stand with them on stage. That is immensely promising.

However, that's not to say my fears have been completely quelled .

This generation, titles like Demon's Souls, Journey and Metal Gear Solid 4 were reasons to own a PS3.

At the dawn of the 8th, subsequent projects from these developers will all be multiplatform.

Demon's Souls had to become Dark Souls to do it, but FromSoftware are no longer committed to Sony hardware.

Thatgamecompany literally went bankrupt during the production of Journey. Going multiplatform for them was a necessity.

As for Metal Gear, well we know Ground Zeroes will be multiplatform.

This is a changed market we live in now. 2nd party developers are almost a thing of the past, even Insomniac have left Sony exclusivity to make Fuse for 360 and PS3 (and what does this mean for titles like Ratchet & Clank?). Should Sony be making more of a concious effort to buy studios in an effort to keep exclusive rights? Can they even afford to do that? Probably not.

This leaves Sony in a somewhat precarious position.

We won't know until the MS reveal if the Xbox 720 will do anything to adress MS's even smaller exclusive library. While I doubt MS will be able make significant changes to that, IF they manage to get a new stable of exciting exclusive IPs under their hood (and that is a HUGE if), Sony could be in trouble.

Conclusion

The console itself seems to be founded on a solid set of ideas. Decent specs, developer friendly, gamer focused.

The games are a little thin looking, but realistically we won't get a solid look at how this will play out until after the 720 reveal/E3.

Will I be getting one? Yes.

What Sony has to do in the coming months, is make me get one sooner rather than later

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