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Rounding Up The PlayStation 4 Rumors

With Sony's press conference scheduled to kick off at 6 p.m. EST tomorrow evening, the rumor mill is churning at an exponential rate regarding the company's next generation console. Which of these articles of speculation holds weight, and which ones are the product of disinformation or over-active imaginations? Our editors parsed through the many proposed features and weighed in on the feasibility of each one.

A New DualShock Controller Leaks

Though the controller has slowly evolved since its debut with the original PlayStation, it hasn't undergone radical changes outside of adding rumble support, integrating triggers, and the short-lived SixAxis experiment. Early rumors foretold of a drastic overhaul to the iconic controller, but then this picture leaked. This controller replaces the start and select buttons with a touchscreen, and like the Vita, it reportedly includes a rear touchpad. This controller also has a a "share" button that could be used to instantly access your social networks for quick posting.

Probability: 80%

Every new console brings a new controller – that's not a surprise. This leaked image certainly looks convincing, but we have no way of knowing if this is a rough prototype that simply used the traditional format for test purposes or a near final version.

New Console To Support 4K Televisions

When 3D TVs failed miserably to capture the imagination of mainstream audiences, television manufacturers scrambled to find a new technology to convince people they need to upgrade their HDTVs. Their solution? Even more resolution! These ultra high-definition displays have four times the resolution of 1080p televisions, boasting an impressive 3840 pixels x 2160 pixels. You could see why a game publisher would be enticed by this additional pixel power, and a rumor inevitably circulated claiming that Sony's upcoming console would support the exciting new displays. 

Probability: 10%

One major roadblock exists on the path to 4K games: user adoption. Only a handful of films support the 4K format, and that lack of content will need to be remedied before consumers start buying the televisions. The cost is also prohibitive; these displays run anywhere from $4,000 to $100,000. Even Sony CEO (and former PlayStation boss) Kaz Hirai has speculated that it could take up to a decade for 4K to catch on, so why would the company devote valuable resources to make the console compatible? Additionally, quadrupling the output resolution of a console requires a huge increase in video hardware capabilities to and beyond the current bleeding edge of PC gaming – to the tune of over $1,000 spent just on video cards. That kind of power isn’t likely to fit in the next PlayStation...unless Sony has decided that the PS3’s biggest problem was that it wasn’t expensive enough at launch.

Sony Declares War On Used Games

Back in January, a NeoGAF user discovered a Sony patent application that would would tie game discs to specific user accounts and/or consoles. Essentially, an RFID tag embedded on the disc would be read by the console to determine if the game had been used before on another console and/or account. If it had, it would block you from playing it. This sent armchair analysts into doomsday mode regarding game retailers who specialize in used games (*cough* Game Informer's parent company GameStop *cough*).

Probability: 20%

Game developers have had a longstanding hate-hate relationship with used games, their general rallying cry being that creators unjustly get left out in the cold on resale revenues. While Sony may have patented the technology to block used games (and sharing games with friends) from the ecosystem completely, it would be suicide to make this move unilaterally. Whether developers like it or not, many of today's gamers like being able to trade games with friends or use the trade-in value of the games they've burned out on to purchase new titles. If Sony blacklisted these practices while Nintendo and Microsoft kept supporting used games, it's not hard to see where the value proposition is for gamers. The best way to eliminate the used market would be to go completely digital, but broadband penetration percentages and bandwidth issues currently prevent that from becoming a reality.

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