If any console manufacturer has a reputation for setting the benchmark of technical capability, it’s Sony. With the announcement of the PlayStation 4, the Japanese tech giant has doubled down on this philosophy, confirming much of what had been leaked prior to this evening’s event.
The PlayStation 4 is powered by an x86 processor with eight CPU cores, an enhanced GPU which can collectively generate 1.84 Teraflops of processing power and 8GB of GDDR5 memory. The new DualShock 4 controller bears superficial similarities to its current-generation counterpart, augmenting that design with the addition of a touchpad, a stereo camera for 3D position tracking, and a share button that allows players to stream slices of their gameplay to friends’ consoles.
There was an implicit mea culpa regarding the difficulty of developing for PlayStation 3’s Cell processor. As expected, Sony touted the ease of developing for PlayStation 4, which will more closely resemble the experience of developing for PC.
Sony has also announced a new sleep mode that will allow the console to slip into a low power consumption state so there’s less delay when players do want to fire up their PS4. The age of mobile games and instant-on has created expectations of immediacy and Sony obviously wants to shave down the waiting period before you can get into a game on the system.
Though Vita didn’t occupy a significant amount of the event, it was announced that players will be able to stream their PS4 games to the handheld for remote play.
The idea of social gaming has been co-opted by platforms such as mobile and Facebook, but Sony wants to create a much more deeply integrated social experience. The share button will offer a wide range of options for players to broadcast their exploits to social media channels and UStream.
Many of those social features will be enabled by the company’s acquisition of Gaikai, whose creator Dave Perry took the stage to talk about how the service will help enhance the PS4 experience. “By combining the PS4, the PlayStation Network, and these social platforms, our goal is to become the social platform for gaming,” said Perry.
Through Cloud-streaming, Gaikai will also enable players to begin playing downloaded games and demos without waiting around for the entire file to download. “Simply press the X button to hop in and start playing the game,” said Perry. He also discussed special social features such as letting a player seize control of your character and help you get past a particularly tricky in-game challenge. And Gaikai will be able to stream to multiple interconnected devices so expect the Vita and tablets to play an intimate role in the PS4 ecosystem.