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Why Sony brought Sound Shapes, Flower and more to PS4's launch

Michael McWhertor is a journalist with more than 17 years of experience covering video games, technology, movies, TV, and entertainment.

When the PlayStation 4 launches in North America on Friday, many PlayStation fans will find they already have a handful of free games waiting for them to download. Sony is bringing some of the PlayStation 3 and PS Vita's best downloadable games to PS4, in part to showcase its cross-platform "cross-buy" program and the power of its next-gen console.

"Internally, we all love those games — Flow, Flower, Sound Shapes and Escape Plan," said Scott Rohde, software product development head at Sony Worldwide Studios America, noting that all four are available for Sony's three current platforms.

"We're pretty proud and happy with our cross-buy program and we wanted to illustrate that on day one. [We wanted to] have a bunch of titles available so that if you had purchased them on other consoles, and you wanted to see how they were different on PS4 — which is slight in some cases, but you always get prettier uprezzed graphics — you just go to your downloads list and they're waiting for you there for free."

Rohde said some of those games accentuate new features of the PS4 and its DualShock 4 controller, making them good show pieces.

"Sound Shapes, for example, you know when you collect one of the musical coins? That sound now emanates from the speaker on the DualShock 4," he said. "And also when you die. That's all that comes from the speaker. And you would be shocked what kind of a difference that makes. It gives it a 3D feeling in the room for sound. It's really an amazing effect."

Those downloadable games also use the DualShock 4's colored light bar for subtle effects, complementing what's happening onscreen.

Rohde said Sony "highly recommended" that developers take advantage of certain PS4 and DualShock 4 features, but "we've never demanded that people use those features."

"We tried very hard not to go with a corporate mandate thing," he said. "Developers and game designers don't like that, so [we just said] 'Use what works for your game.'"

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