PlayStation More Feb 20 2013

I’ve not been too excited about the Sony PlayStation recently. The vast majority of big game releases are multi-platform, and most of them end up having better DLC support on Xbox 360, as well as the online aspect being a lot better on Xbox Live. In fact, since moving house six months ago, I haven’t even unpacked my PS3 and set it up. I did trade-in my PS Vita though and pick up a second Xbox 360 for the office (for lunchtime guitar learnings on Rocksmith, and not lunchtime online sessions of Halo 4, of course).

I am still excited about the PlayStation announcement shortly though. It seems pretty nailed-on that this is the PS4 unveil (look for Sony’s stock on the floor of Wall Street tomorrow if they don’t unveil a next-gen console), but obviously the specs, the look of it, the tech and features, and most importantly the launch games are all up in the air. I don’t imagine we’ll get a firm release date or price today, although it’d be nice if they were looking at a worldwide launch rather than EU being months behind like with the PS3, and if the UK price wasn’t just the US price with $ changed to £.

The games will most likely be a mix of franchise favourites, I expect an Uncharted, Gran Turismo, Final Fantasy, and maybe even an exclusive Metal Gear Solid perhaps. Unlikely that any of these will show off too much or even give final titles (Uncharted 4? Gran Turismo 6? Final Fantasy 54?). But it’ll get the Sony exclusive buzz back which they so desperately need.

The specs and look of the console will probably turn out to be fairly uninteresting. Specs wise I think the next-gen will be a lot more even, with both Sony and Microsoft looking to use more off-the-shelf components so that the launch price is cheaper and more affordable, and they can start to profit on each unit much quicker (traditionally very difficult at the beginning of a new console cycle). The looks won’t be as outrageous as some suggest I don’t think - people won’t be making any console the centerpiece of their living rooms, and I think these companies know that now. Instead look for something that fits in nicely amongst other AV components, but with a traditional Sony fit and finish that suggests quality.

The most interesting aspect by far is features. The PS3 lagged behind the Xbox 360 in terms of the online service and offerings by a mile, only recently starting to make inroads with PlayStation Plus. An extension of this, with the Gaikai acquisition finally being put to use as a PlayStation branded game streaming service so that you can play PS3 games on the PS4, would be pretty compelling. Still will be interesting to see how they’ll let people turn their physical PS3 game collections into games they can stream on PS4, but it’d lay down the gauntlet for MS and the next-gen Xbox.

If they could also get the hang of reasonably and competitively priced day one download releases for their flagship games, they might even have a true 21st century offering on their hands… and about time too. One thing is for sure though, it’s make or break time for PlayStation with this next-generation now, and I fully expect that Sony will have either entirely missed the point with PS4, or will have absolutely nailed it. We’ll hopefully find out tonight.