Playing with its customers

Sony throws down gaming gauntlet with the PS4

Anthony Piecs Marcano | guest writer

PlayStation. The name harkens to the days when consumers were first introduced to after-school sessions with “Crash Bandicoot,” late nights with “Resident Evil” and long, coffee-fueled weekends with “Final Fantasy.” As time passed, we destroyed our friends’ cars in “Twisted Metal,” fought pirates and thieves with Nathan Drake in “Uncharted” and even slayed the Greek gods with Kratos in “God of War.”
With the current gaming generation quickly coming to a close, gamers around the world have been eagerly waiting to know what the big three console manufacturers have in store for them.
Were the big console makers really working on a new generation of consoles? And if they are, what bells and whistles will they incorporate to win us consumers over by inviting them to take over our living rooms?
On Feb. 20, our questions were answered with the introduction of the Playstation 4, in a big way. Sony threw down the digital gauntlet by holding a two-hour press release. As a longtime fan, I couldn’t be happier.
The first major improvement to be excited about was discussed during the press conference. It is the general archetype of this next generation console. With this, Sony has dropped the Cell engine of the PlayStation 3 to incorporate more of a high-end PC build.
In short, this will make it easier for developers to create the biggest games while pushing the hardware to its highest capabilities. This is important because Sony will no longer suffer from poorly developed versions of games that typically perform better with other, competing consoles.
Another big improvement is the much-needed redesign of the long-used Dualshock controller, making it into a much more fluid and advanced gaming accessory. While gamers have grown up using essentially the same controller they’ve used since the ‘90s with the Playstation, it seems about time for Sony to retire the old design for something with more functionality.
With the introduction of a share button located at the top of the controller, players will be able to record and edit game play and ultimately release that into cyberspace (via Ustream) for anyone to see.
This leads to the biggest aspect of the console and the biggest reason Sony has won my folding money for the next generation: its greatly improved social functionality.
Not only will gamers be able to record and share their play sessions online, but they now will be able to directly (and indirectly) stream their live gaming sessions with friends and fellow PlayStation gamers.
With a Kinect-like camera bundled with the console, players will be able to see each other during these sessions. This means that friends can now see whom they may be playing against and finally see the face of the 12-year-olds screaming smack talk during “Call of Duty” matches.
This is just another example of how Sony has made it clear that the PS4 will be the primary hub for social gaming.
But none of this really means much to a next generation gaming console, unless the PS4 can deliver the games. Sony has done this in spades. With the introduction of first-party exclusives “Killzone: Shadow Fall,” “Infamous: Second Son,” and “Drive Club,” PlayStation gamers have a lot to look forward to that won’t be on any other console.
It doesn’t stop there, as Ubisoft showed off its futuristic action game Watchdogs, as well as Blizzard announcing that its popular online game, Diablo 3, will make its way to the PS4.
The biggest bombshell of the night had to come in the form of Halo creators Bungie announcing that not only will their next game Destiny come to the console, but it will include exclusive content not available anywhere else.
In short, Sony promises to have the biggest launch lineup we have ever seen and if this is any indication for what is to come, gamers will have quite the game library to keep them occupied for some time.
These are exciting times for gamers, as new consoles offer new experiences. In that sense, Sony has taken the torch and is leading the way for this next generation in a big way. Start saving up that change now, because the PS4 will hit this holiday season and be on everyone’s wish list this year. Get ready, ladies and gentlemen. It’s time to join the Playstation Nation.

Anthony Pieces Marcano is a graduate in communicaiton

 

PS4: No Console, tons of speculation

Carl J. Bacjus

As a PlayStation fan, Feb. 20 was obviously a pretty exciting day. Sony had been hinting at a major announcement for weeks and everyone just knew that it was going to be the PlayStation 4. And it was – but at the same time, it wasn’t.
The announcement was just lackluster in every sense, and made no clear argument as to why I should be saving up for this thing come the 2013 holiday season.
The press conference started off pretty well. One of the issues with the release of the PS3 was that the system developers were these stoic and staunch Japanese men who seemed like they’d never played a video game before – which resulted in features like them using the same dysfunctional controller design as a means of brand recognition.
Sony fixed this by hiring developer Mark Cerny (Crash Bandicoot, Jak and Daxter) as the lead system architect and having him host the conference and by showing off a functional model of the new, more ergonomically designed controller for the PS4. And that’s about it, really. They promised a big announcement and they gave us confirmation that the system exists.
The controller, albeit sporting a much more functional design, just has too much going on. There’s a touch pad – that’s just small enough to not be able to do anything on it – and a “Share” button. Because, of course, all we were really missing was a way to share our Call of Duty campaign progress on Facebook and Twitter.
The biggest issue is the lack of an actual console reveal – all they showed was the controller. A little information was given on system spec (8GB of RAM and the use of USB 3.0, rather than the more popular 2.0) but most of the talk was focused on the launch titles, the controller and the new version of that stupid “Move” controller.
The funniest part was how Sony seems to have felt that the only way to build hype for the PS4 was to all but disown its predecessor. What little time that wasn’t spent (justifiably) detailing the PS3’s functionality issues was saved for the social media aspect.
Then Sony committed the deadliest console sin: It announced that the PS4 will have no backward compatibility. You can forget about trying to sell your PS3 to upgrade because your old games just won’t work. Sony was quick to calm the non-thinking masses by saying that the PS4 may be able to “stream” games from the previous three systems in the future, presumably through the cloud-based service, Gaikai, which Sony purchased last summer.
However, Gaikai has mostly been used for demos, and cloud gaming technology is nowhere near where it needs to be for Sony to make claims like this. There’s no way that it’ll be ready in time for the launch, so now, it’s all just speculation.
Gamers can be pretty divisive when it comes to the consoles, and Sony isn’t going to win any new converts by spouting out a bunch of speculations and announcing a console without the console.
This was supposed to be PlayStation’s chance to make the first real eighth-generation gaming news. Instead, what we got was Sony’s equivalent of an Apple iPhone press conference: calling a few cool features revolutionary while pretty much putting lipstick on an aborted pig fetus.
Your move, Microsoft. Bring it.

CJ Bachus is a sophomore in communication

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