The lights are on
Sony threw a lot of new information at the public with its PlayStation 4 press conference. Find out what the Game Informer team thinks about the new hardware, networking features, cloud streaming, and, most importantly, game announcements.
Matt BertzIt may not generate the headlines, but the biggest news for me was the 8GB of unified DDR5 RAM, which is a huge leap forward from what developers had to work with on the PlayStation 3. This should give creators a fertile technological playground on which they can make impressive gains in not only graphical fidelity, but artificial intelligence as well. Sony's move to embrace a self publishing model and integrate more social features into the console are also important innovations, but at the end of the day games will likely determine which console gamers choose to purchase. The graphics of games like the new Killzone and Infamous titles were impressive, but the brief glimpses Sony and its third-party partners showcased didn't reveal any major steps forward in gameplay mechanics. What are must-have titles for the PlayStation 4? That has yet to be determined, and it could make or break Sony's earnest attempts to win back market share from Microsoft and Nintendo.
Matt Helgeson“I thought it was a strong presentation from Sony. While there wasn’t necessarily a game shown that looked like a true next-generation killer app, it’s clear that software support for the system will be strong, both from Sony’s internal studios and third-party publishers. I would have liked to see the unit itself, as well as a price point, but Sony needed something to talk about at E3. While my colleagues are reacting to some of the major announcements, I’d like to address some overlooked aspects of the conference that are more important than people think.
Matt Miller“Sony is clearly putting a priority getting in gamers’ minds right from the start this time around. I’d have harsher words for Sony if its announcement today had been lackluster, but I think the console maker put forward a strong case for PS4. While today’s press conference only had a few big announcements, we can expect lots more where that came from at this year’s E3. More importantly, Sony showed that it is ready to take the lead in next-gen gaming, throwing down the gauntlet to Microsoft that this time it will be a head-to-head race from the very start. All that said, I’m concerned about some of the things we didn’t hear about tonight, including pricing, its approach to used games, and of course, what the system actually looks like. That said, as console announcements go, PS4 came out swinging.”
Matthew KatoSony’s presentation summed up my feelings about the next-generation systems in a nutshell: Promising but amorphous. It looks like the PS4 has some cool features like background processing, integration with other devices, and usage of the cloud for older titles, but it’s unclear how much of a leap forward this all represents. How much of what the PS4 can do are neat little amenities (like little boot up when powering on) and how much will actually change the way I play games? From another perspective, I was happy that it appears like Sony is trying harder to loop in developers from the start time around. I wasn’t blown away by any of the games shown, but it was nice to see what appears to be tangible product for the system, and that Sony will continue to be receptive to the talent of developers of all sizes. We don’t know all the details and capabilities of the PlayStation 4 yet, but I think we’ve seen enough to guess that there probably won’t be any magical rabbits coming out of hats. Issues like what happens to used games, the exact network structure for PSN (pay or free), price point, etc. will define the system, but along the margins. This doesn’t make me disappointed per se – I feel just like I thought I would.
Adam Biessener“Sony didn't show some of the things I was hoping for – the hardware itself, the presence or absence of a disc drive, whether or not it has a used game lockout -- but what the company did show looked good to me. The silicon is pretty darn close to what the rumors had it pegged as, with the crucial exception of a full 8GB of super-high-speed shared GDDR5 RAM. That's absolutely huge, and should make it both easy to develop for (a massive improvement over the developer-unfriendly PS3 hardware) and capable of playing everything up to and including current- and next-generation MMOs. Sony making it a point to trumpet its friendliness to free-to-play and episodic games could be a big tell for the company opening its doors to the kind of diversity that we've seen explode across the PC scene in recent years. There remain a number of points like the certification process, distribution, and visibility that the PS4 could fail at and which Steam and other PC services do so well, but it's hard to fault what looks to all appearances to be a move in the right direction.”
Ben Reeves“I wasn't sure what to expect today. I would have liked to hear a lot more info about the system itself. I didn't really expect to get a price or release date, but I thought we'd find out how Sony would handle used games. Titles like The Witness, Watch Dogs, and Destiny look great, but we already knew about those them, and I wasn't that impressed with new announcements like DriveClub and Knack. Infamous might be the only new game that sparked my interest. I'm excited for the PS4, but I don't think it will be impossible for Microsoft to compete.”
Dan Ryckert“Being able to watch my friends play games live sounds like an awesome feature, even if it’s not one that I’ll use all the time. I love the idea of my sister in Kansas texting me that she’s having trouble in a game, and being able to pull up her screen and help her in real time while I’m in Minnesota. With so many sharing options built in, I think PS4 will be a huge step forward for gamers who enjoy recording their gameplay footage and showing off their accomplishments on YouTube or other social media. That said, there weren’t many games shown that I’m particularly interested in. Knack looks like a fun platformer in the vein of Jak or Ratchet, and Destiny will be a huge event when it releases, but I didn’t see a lot of gameplay footage tonight that grabbed me. That said, the hardware and the system’s online features sound great at this early stage in the game.”
Jeff Marchiafava“I wasn’t optimistic about what Microsoft and Sony’s new systems would offer players, but after watching the PlayStation 4 press conference, it feels like the next generation of gaming is finally upon us, and I for one am excited. Some of the PS4’s features – such as the sharing functionality and the ability to try out games via the console’s streaming capabilities – sound great, and could differentiate it from Microsoft’s next system. I don’t consider any of the announced games to be killer apps, but it’s good to see that Media Molecule is still doing its crazy creation thing and that Sony is embracing free-to-play and indie games. Most importantly, it looks like Sony didn’t screw up its controller – will we finally have a PlayStation controller with real triggers? While it’s important to remember that Sony has a history of hyping its new hardware and not delivering on its promises, I am excited to see more of the PS4.”
Tim Turi“My interest levels started out high as representatives explained how PS4 users will be able to instantly stream game demos or interact with their friends’ games while spectating. I also appreciate the promise to access PlayStation’s full catalogue of games and remote play on the Vita. Overall, few of the games shown off caught my interest. I’m ready to play Watch Dogs, Killzone is pretty as always, and I’m down with more Infamous, but I expected something more.”
Ben Hanson“Maybe it was just the Crash Bandicoot music that played when he walked on stage, but I love that Sony put Mark Cerny on stage almost immediately to talk about designing the new console around the needs of developers and to reveal his new game called Knack. After seeing Sony flirt with Steam compatibility this generation for games like Portal 2, it was refreshing to hear that the new system's architecture is much closer to a PC's to allow for easier porting and better communication. I know that some people might be disappointed that they didn't show the console itself, but I'm glad that there will be some surprises left for E3.”
Kyle Hilliard“The most interesting aspect of the PlayStation 4 to me is the share button. I’ve had a taste of social network gaming in the Wii U with the MiiVerse and the ability to post screenshots, and I’ve liked it. Posting video footage of gameplay, being able to watch others play games, and have friends watch you seems like it could be the defining technology of the next generation of gaming. As far as games go, I walk away most excited about the next Infamous, based less on what was shown and more on the pedigree of the developer. That’s the game I am most excited to learn more about.”
Kimberly Wallace“I’m excited to be entering a new console generation, but I still have yet to be wowed. Still, I found a lot of the promised capabilities of the PS4 enticing, especially with being able to tap the “share” button on the controller and broadcast game footage in real time to friends. This should be a great feature when you’re stuck and need a buddy to help determine where you’re slipping up in a game. As far as games go, Watch Dogs caught my eye the most; it seemed like there was a lot of freedom and options at every turn, and I like the idea of being able to read people’s secrets from afar or stealing their money with just as much ease. Every time a new console unveils, I sit there amazed at how far technology has come and the PS4 made me realize that all the more, but part of me wonders if some of these innovations will execute as seamlessly or be as worthwhile as Sony lets on.”
You've heard several of our perspectives. What is your knee-jerk reaction to the PlayStation 4?
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Started out very strong with the hardware, easy development, and live spectating/gameplay sharing, but lost steam towards the end and felt like it was dragging on a little. Wish they would've gone over their new camera peripheral and the future of Move a little, but I'm sure we'll see more on both at E3.