We are exactly a week away from the February 20th Sony event that the Playstation Blog teased us with a few weeks ago.
That is exactly what the announcement of the event was: a tease, but the educated guess by the internet is that Sony will be announcing the next Playstation, codenamed Orbis, probably final product name Playstation 4, aka PS4. But the thing is we really don’t know what exactly Sony will say at this event. All we have are rumors and speculation. So let’s take a look at some of that speculation and make some educated guesses on what will and won’t come true.
This is a pretty obvious and really safe assumption. The product life cycle of both the PS3 and Xbox 360 is well up and after seeing games like Watchdogs and Star Wars 1313 at E3 last year the time is NOW for new consoles. This event is also a great PR move by Sony as the last few years it has felt like Microsoft has been one up on them with announcements. Instead of waiting till the Monday evening before E3 2013, which would take place after Microsoft steals the headlines with the next Xbox, Sony has opted to announce months in advance. Now they can take all the headlines and go into E3 with a big head of steam. I won’t be surprised to hit the E3 floor and see the Sony booth packed with PS4′s while Microsoft only has a select number of new Xbox’s behind closed doors.
PS4 Release Date This Fall
The Fall is the optimal and historic time to release consoles. It’s right before the holiday season and it allows product manufactures to create a huge demand for the product and again grab headlines of not only gaming related websites but also the mainstream media. The safe bet would be a November Launch just prior to Thanksgiving. The only downside with them announcing a firm date now is that Microsoft now has time to speed up and move their release date to a date earlier than originally planned. What would be really mind blowing next week is if Sony announces a June 18th release date. Why do I say that? Well we found out last night that retailers have alerted pre-orders to a delayed release of The Last Of Us. Could The Last of Us be hitting the PS4 as a lunch title? The game has a ton of buzz and could benefit greatly from a more powerful system. While this scenario is highly unlikely, it is a slim and awesome possibility. It would also give Sony a ton of time on as the only new console on the market allowing them to steal back a ton of market share from Microsoft and Nintendo.
System Specs just make people drool and argue. While the detailed Reddit account of both next-gen console specs sounds very plausible those were based off developer kits which could vary drastically from what is launched to consumers. That being said gamers shouldn’t get caught up in the system specs of the consoles. The next-gen consoles will be more powerful and the games will be mind-blowing and better than what we have now.
This always seems to be a topic for discussion when new consoles launch. While I’m sure there will be backwards compatibility, Sony might do it in a new way. Since they purchased the Gaikai streaming game service last year, the rumor has been that discs are dead. It’s highly unlikely that new PS4 titles would be streamed, as the bottom-line is streaming game services just aren’t there yet. The heavy video compression makes the games look muddy and nowhere near the graphical fidelity of disc-based titles. Plus the quality of streaming service is all dependent on a person’s internet connection. While Sony would be insane to put new titles on such a service I could see them putting older titles on the service as the new backward compatibility model. This gives them the freedom to free up hardware in the system that would need to be included to power these titles, which would lower costs of the system. They could also use the Gaikai backward compatibly service as another way to add value to PS+.
Disc vs Digital Downloads
I kinda touched on this, but don’t look for discs to disappear yet. While Digital Downloads are the future they are hampered by internet connections, something which still isn’t great across the United States. Don’t get me wrong, our internet connections in general are on the up, but many people don’t have the speeds or are subjected to bandwidth caps that would allow them to digitally download an entire library of games. And the software is where the money is made. So if they can’t move software they won’t make money. I think this argument might change come the PS5, but right now expect to still get a disc with the option of every game also being available digitally.
Here is a biggie; what will the price be? I saw a post about Sony taking a business model similar to cellphones. Give the console away for free but tie you down to a contract for PS+ for a number of years. Microsoft has been dabbling in this but since we haven’t heard much about it, it’s safe to assume it’s only doing ok. I think this would be a great option for budget gamers and again could give Sony a big boost in market share, but I don’t think the majority of people would like such a model. Being tied down to a contract for a video game system is just a bit crazy. That being said look for a $499 price tag, at most $599 but I think at the higher price point in this economy they might have a hard time moving a lot of consoles.
What about the Vita?? The Vita has be very stagnant as of late. Not many great games have been released recently. But the inclusion of PS+ has given the handheld a good amount of hope. Expect Sony to announce more PS+ Vita titles, and obviously expect some neat new cross platform features.
What would a new console be without games?? Nothing. Expect Sony to announce the big titles: Killzone, Uncharted, God of War. I think they might also have a third-party exclusive up their sleeve as well, or at least I hope they do for their own sake. Hopefully they also have a few new IPs in the works. While I love Killzone, Uncharted, God of War I need something new to sink my teeth into.
Next week is going to be fun. Something is going to be announced let’s just hope all the hype pays off. You’ll be able to watch the event LIVE here.