“PlayStation wants to win the war against reality.”
Alongside a montage of the company’s biggest video game icons, that mantra was how Sony kicked off its massively hyped PlayStation event from New York City on Wednesday.
To win that war, Sony officially announced the PlayStation 4, the most advanced video game system the public has ever seen.
While Sony announced no price, no release date (aside from ‘Holiday 2013’) and didn’t even show a glimpse of the console in its two-hour presentation, it did show off the new controller, fleshed out its integration with Gaikai cloud-based gaming, showed off a bunch of brand new games and laid out the goals it hopes to accomplish with the PlayStation 4.
Sony designed the PlayStation 4 with an acronym in mind: S.I.S.I.P.
S.I.S.I.P. stands for Simple, Immediate, Social, Integration, Personalization. Each of these areas defined how the PlayStation 4 would be made and how it would stand out from the rest of the video game field. What does each mean? Let’s break it down.
Sony said it wanted “nothing between you and the game.” To achieve this, they wanted to make things as simple as they could possibly be.
Nothing is more than a button press away. Immediacy is a big deal and a big focus with the PlayStation 4.
Sony acknowledged that immediacy is now an expectation, and it aims to reduce the lag time between you and the content.
One of the system’s coolest features, and one that few – if any – preview or leak mentioned, is a button that lets you suspend and resume your play session. Pushing this button sends your console into a low-power mode, ready to resume when you are. No longer will you have to wait for your console to boot back up and have the game loaded again. One button press and you’re right back where you left off.
Immediacy also means being able to play games as soon as you can. The PlayStation 4 has a secondary custom chip that manages your uploads and downloads, which means you can download and update games in the background (nothing special there) but also download only part of a game and begin to play it before the whole thing is downloaded. That’s very cool.
One thing that the leaks DID nail was the inclusion of a brand new Share button on the new controller. You can videos from parts of your gameplay. Do something really cool? Maybe something really stupid? You can upload those to Facebook or Ustream (two official partners of the PlayStation Network) so your friends can stand in awe of you … or mock you relentlessly.
Sony acknowledged that spectating has become very important and prominent in the video game community, which is why this share button is such a big deal.
You can also share a live stream of what you’re playing, which lets you broadcast 100 percent in real time to your friends, who can post comments on your screen. They can help you out in tough areas or trash talk you when you mess up. Really super stuck? The PlayStation 4 also lets friends take over your controller remotely and help you get through a tough part.
That’s ridiculously cool.
Social also means that developers can design their games to have friends help you out in certain point, like dropping potions or wiping out bosses when you’re stuck. The WiiU’s New Super Mario Bros. U did this locally, but this is all done live over the PlayStation Network. Nothing like this has ever been available in video games.
(While we’re talking about the WiiU, another similarity to Nintendo’s console: You can use a PlayStation Vita to play PlayStation 4 games without using your TV. Kids or spouse come in the room and want to watch TV? Let them watch TV and you can still play the new Infamous. The WiiU’s GamePad advantage just shrunk considerably … assuming you own a Vita, which not many people do.)
From the start of its presentation, Sony addressed our desire and our need for mobility. Sony brought up the PlayStation Vita, which they called the world’s most powerful handheld.
Sony said it initially shaped the gaming landscape. But, in recent years, it was the gaming landscape that shaped Sony. We all became more mobile and wanted to play what we want, where we want, when we want. Sony calls this “Everything Everywhere” and it is a major focus with the PlayStation 4.
The Integration element of the PlayStation 4 will bring applications to smartphones and tablets, web platforms and the Vita. This will “allow PlayStation 4 conversations to extend far beyond the living room.”
Sony didn’t spend much time on this element, but it holds a lot of promise. The PlayStation 4 will get to know you and closer to the experience that you want in a video game console. Rather than have a generic experience that’s the same for everyone, Sony wants your PlayStation experience to be special and unique to you.
What Else is Cool?
Sony showed off a whole bunch of video footage from upcoming games. Watch Dogs, which was shown off at last year’s E3, got a big reaction from the crowd. We also saw, for the first time, new entries in the Killzone and Infamous franchises.
Jonathan Blow, the mad genius behind indie smash hit Braid, showed off The Witness, which will be a must-play when it comes out. Braid was beautifully frustrating, and The Witness seems to be more of the same.
Blizzard also showed up and announced a partnership with Sony, and also announced that Diablo III is coming to the PlayStation 4 (and PlayStation 3!). Pretty cool.
Bungie is also coming to the PlayStation 4 with its newly-unveiled game Destiny.
PlayStation Move is sticking around, and appears to be doing so in a big way. The new DualShock 4 controller (pictured above) features a ‘light bar’ that the new Move sensor will detect and interact with in brand new ways.
Sony re-emphasized its focus on media, like Netflix and Amazon Instant Video. It mentioned how widespread the PlayStation 3 was used for media, and it wants the PlayStation 4 to continue in that legacy.
The PlayStation 4 will also give developers more freedom to “make the games they’ve always wanted to make.” The new console will let them tinker with episodic content as well as free-to-play games.
Sony set itself up to be the future of play. Let’s see if that’s actually the case. Seeing the console will be a good first step.