PlayStation 4 Wrap-up
Unless you’ve been living under a rock, then you know today Sony is having a huge conference to discuss “the future of PlayStation”. The future of PlayStation could be about several things such as, the PS3, Vita, PS Mobile, or brand new business ventures; however, the majority of the industry points to this February 20th announcement being the reveal of the successor of the PlayStation 3. The PlayStation 4?
For once Sony has kept the lid sealed on what is likely to become one of the biggest announcements of the entire year. But over the pass year rumors and speculations regarding the PlayStation 4 have flowed onto several websites from many sources both reliable and unknown. I’ll start off by giving you the rumors and facts, then follow up with my analysis on what I expect from Sony’s potential console. Remember these are still rumors until proven otherwise so take everything with a grain of salt, but here’s everything there is to know about the successor to the PlayStation 3.
What we know: Hardware speculations have been highly varied over the past year, but things have finally settled down to a near complete consensus of what is powering the PlayStation 4. Originally the PS4 devkits were rumored to be utilizing AMD A8-3850 APU. The system would be powered by a 7670 GUP and 4GB of DDR3 RAM. The Processor would later evolve into AMD A10-5800k APU. However, recently the rumored specs for the PS4 have taken a drastic turn for the better, or worse depending on the final cost of the console. The new specs for the actual console claims it’s powered by a 1.6GHz 8-core AMD custom Jaguar-based CPU, powered by an AMD 10xx GPU, and houses 4GB of GDDR5 RAM. If true then the PS4 will be a glorified high-end “single GPU” gaming laptop depending on the GPU (likely an HD 7950m or 7970m).
My thoughts: With those specs we can presume that the PS4 will range anywhere from a low-end (A8-3850) to a mid-range gaming PC (HD 7950m). While that may see underwhelming compared to the PS3, which was high-end upon it’s launch, it’s the best Sony can hope to achieve without having a system that cost $600+. However, with the proper dev. tools taking full advantage of the hardware, brilliant coders maximizing resources, and the talent behind many of Sony’s first party studios the PS4 will push beyond a PC of a similar build, and may even give higher end PC’s a run for their money if they choose the more powerful max spec console. My biggest concern is the memory, and it seems to be Sony’s as well. When it comes to gaming the PS4’s 4GB of GDDR5 memory will be beastly, but it leaves little to no room for the OS and Sony’s content heavy services such as apps, web browser, and other things may come in the future. My guess is the final model will have 5GB - 6GB of RAM (4GB GDDR5 + 1GB / 2GB DDR3 for the OS).
What we know: According to many sources the PlayStation 4 is rumored to launch at a price of only $399 (US), and is the general consensus of what many core gamers want as a “Day 1 launch price”. However, if Sony decides to go with the low-end model the PS4 could very well cost a mere $299 in direct competition with Nintendo’s Wii-U.
My thoughts: Pricing will be the key to success for the PS4 as it’s likely launching alongside the successor of the Xbox 360 where a price war, quality Day 1 games, services & applications, and marketing & appeal will determine the more successful of the two. Include competition from Nintendo’s Wii U which is likely to receive a price drop around the consoles launch, the barrage of new Android based consoles targeting casual gamers, Valve’s Steambox challenging console dominance and geared towards creating more PC gamers, and the threat of Apple entering the gaming market in a big way means Sony has to nail price hard. I believe the PS4 will be facing 2 price ranges, $299 for the low-end model (A8) or $499 for the high-end model. I’m sure Sony will do everything in their power to aim for a $399 price, but considering what’s powering the PS4’s high-end model, along with a better Blu Ray drive, Bluetooth 3.0, USB 3.0 support, a new controller, possibly PS Eye HD, and other required upgrades to technology I can’t see the PS4 being $399, unless. Sony is likely to cut the cost of their consoles by offering a subscription-based version similar to what Microsoft did with the Xbox 360 selling for $99. With a 2-year contract to their service (at $10 per month) you would be able to purchase the console for only $299 (a total of $539 over a 2 year period). This gets the price down to a much more desirable number, and after 2 years of being with the new PS+, gamers will be so engraved in their community that they will continue paying for the subscription after their contract has expired.
What we know: There are rumors that there will be two SKU’s for the PS4. An entry model that features the consoles, new controller, and a decent sized hard drive (possibly 500GB). There’s also a rumored Omni Viewer SKU, which features the console, a new controller, a large hard drive (1TB), and the Omni Viewer. The Omni Viewer is a helmet-like 3D goggle device that displays your games. Sony’s target goal for the PS4 is 1080p @ 60fps. With the high-end hardware that goal is achievable, and Omni Viewer is said to supplement the PS4 by running those games in 3D thanks to the headset, as well as giving you a constant full image view of the gaming world, and head tracking capabilities. However, the Omni Viewer rumors have all but faded over the past few months, and have now been replaced by the rumors of a PS Eye HD SKU for the PS4.
My thoughts: The Omni Viewer sounds a bit too far advanced for the PS4, and seems more like something the PS5 would use. Many other outlets are developing similar tech with Sony having a similar device on the market, Google glasses being developed, and Oculus Rift. The problem is all these devices cost hundreds of dollars thus excluding them from any kind of console bundle. The PS Eye HD seems more reasonable considering Sony’s history with the camera and their plans on supporting PlayStation Move technology once again with the PS4. But more importantly the PS Eye HD will allow Sony to stop Microsoft from monopolizing the motion camera gaming enthusiast that Kinect seems to have taken over.
However, I think multiple SKU’s are a bad idea when it comes to peripherals. Having two versions of a console where the only difference is the size of the HDD and a $50 price hike is fine, but having one with Omni Viewer / PS Eye HD, and the other without it splits the consumer base and developers will simply not develop for it (look at what happened with the PS Move and even Kinect). If these new peripherals are going to be a part of the PS4 then they need to be in every SKU, not just a premium model. Also having these extra peripherals will raise the price of the SKU’s, which is something Sony cannot do if they want to reclaim their once complete dominance over the competition, so they’ll likely be sold on their own.