On January 31st, Sony dropped a bombshell announcement. They issued a series of tweets, emails, facebook posts, and blog posts within seconds of one another. The purpose of said tweets, emails, and posts? The video: "Come see the future of PlayStation."
The Internet reacted accordingly and whipped itself into a frenzy over the news. Why you ask? Sony's event and this announcement are likely the official beginning of a new console generation. That's right. The PlayStation 4 is set to be revealed next week in New York. The mainstream gaming sights have already made their predictions. Now we're just counting the days.
Sony is really pushing this as a big event. First of all, they're live streaming, clearly indicating they want their fans to watch. This isn't going to be a corporate meeting filled with financials (although I'm sure there will be some); no, this event is focusing on the gamer. They've invited industry editors and are having the event in New York's famed Hammerstein Ballroom. So instead of predicting what Sony will do, how about hearing what they should do at the event? At least, what they should do if they want to please millions of die-hard fans and trophy hunters like myself ;-)
1.) Save Something For E3
Not what you were expecting at the top of the list? It's true though. Unless the console is releasing within 2-4 months, which I can't possibly imagine, Sony can't afford to show all their cards from the beginning. Announcing a price or release date this soon would give Microsoft ample time to counter that. Many have stressed the importance of being first in this console generation and up until this point, rumors pointed to Microsoft as being slightly ahead of Sony for planned their planned release date.
Recent "Apple-style" press conferences from all three major video game companies seem to be moving us toward an industry where E3 is less important. While I certainly believe this to be true, we aren't there yet. E3 remains an important industry show and Sony shouldn't ignore it just yet.
2.) Show The Console and Show The Controller
This one may go without saying, but we absolutely need to see the new console and the new controller. Rumors have suggested a slight redesign of Sony's classic dualshock we all know so well. Expectations range from minor improvements to the triggers and thumbsticks, to a Vita-esque touchpade in the center of the controller. A share button has also been mentioned, which would theoretically give players the option of quickly posting gameplay videos or screenshots to their favorite social media outlets. Sony needs to show this now so they have a chance to receive any constructive feedback. After all, we really don't want a boomerang controller.
3.) Show Gameplay...Real Gameplay
Back when Sony first debuted the PS3, attendees gawked over the now legendary footage of Killzone 2. Many questioned whether the footage was truly running on PS3 hardware and it turns out, they were right. Although Sony certainly came very close to achieving that quality in later titles, they admitted the video in question was in fact a "target render" rather than actual gameplay. Don't repeat that mistake with the PS4.
As a child growing up, the leaps and bounds in terms of graphical quality seemed monumental between each generation. While we're getting closer to graphical ubiquity (I mean...can they really get that much better?), I believe Sony can - and should - wow us one more time. Rumors indicate the Killzone franchise may once again be the title to showcase the system's power. This time...just make sure it's legit.
4.) So Why Do I Need A New Console?
I love my PS3. The games look fantastic. Online games are great. So...why do I new console? As has been proven time and time again, graphics are important but not the end-all, be-all. Two of the best selling consoles of all time were actually two of the least powerful systems in their respective generations (PS2 and then the Wii). IGN and the Podcast Beyond crew recently speculated about this and I think they're close with their ideas. Namely, Gaikai will play a key role in what's coming.
So, just what is going on with Gaikai, the cloud gaming service Sony acquired for $380 million back in September? Is it just so the console can be backward compatible with legacy titles? Is Sony envisioning a world where I can play any PS4 title by streaming it to my Vita through Gaikai? If so, what's the point of buying the new console? So many questions remain to be answered in relation to Gaikai. Sony invested a significant amount of money in them, so what's the payoff? It's almost certainly intertwined with the PS4.
Regardless, I'm definitely looking forward to next Wednesday. We'll get a peek into the company's future and hopefully we fans will be excited about what we see.