In a move that surprised absolutely no one, Sony formally unveiled the PS4 today during a very long press conference in New York. As expected, their new console is called the Playstation 4, and while Sony didn’t show the actual system itself, they did give us a few glimpses at the new console’s unique features and games.
As earlier rumors suggested, the new PS4 features hardware on par with top of the line PC’s, with veteran game designer Mark Cerny (Sonic the Hedgehog 2, Crash Bandicoot,) saying that the system’s architecture works like a “souped-up PC,” and that it’s incredibly easy to program for. Cerny revealed that his team at Sony’s Japan Studio are working on a brand new IP for the PS4, entitled Knack:
Cerny also showed off the PS4’s unique social features: using the new “Share” button located to the right of the d-pad on the PS4 controller, players will be able to livestream games as they place them, edit and upload clips to the Playstation Network, and even link up with another player online and let them take control of their game. Similar to the Wii U’s Miiverse, the PS4 will have it’s own fully-featured social network that will allow users to share videos, screenshots, and recommendations with their friends.
Gaikai CEO Dave Perry took the stage after Cerny and showed off the PS4’s impressive Cloud gaming abilities: PS4 users will be able to instantaneously stream playable demos from the PSN Store without having to wait for them to download or install. In addition to that, Perry promised that someday Gaikai’s streaming tech would allow PS Vita users to play the entire library of PS4 games and content on their Vita.
Perry also made it clear that the PS4 will not be backwards compatible with existing PS3 games, but he promised that both Gaikai and Sony are working on making the PS3, PS2, and PS1’s back catalog of games available on the PS4 via some sort of retro streaming service.
Sony also gave us our first look at the PS4’s controller, which more or less looks the same as the leaked prototype shots we first saw a few days ago: the final version features a sleeker “light bar” at the top of the control (which, as everyone suspected, works with the PS4’s camera to facilitate motion controls,) and redesigned shoulder buttons and triggers, which Sony says will be more comfortable than the PS3’s layout. Sony also clarified that the PS4 controller’s central “panel” is not a touch screen, but rather a touch sensitive track pad, similar to the Vita’s back-touch panel.
Strangely, Sony didn’t actually show the PS4 console itself, so I suppose they’re saving that big reveal for E3. Sony also didn’t say how much the PS4 was going to cost, but they did confirm that the system will be available sometime during the 2013 holiday season.