Opinion// All Hail the PlayStation 4

Posted 20 Feb 2013 16:50 by
Until 23:45 (GMT) on February 20th 2013 I could not have given a flying fluff about the PS4. My PS3 has gone unloved and unplayed for months, my time increasingly spent cycling and running around the countryside, as I become convinced that the real world is higher resolution, and has better draw distance than any game I have yet played. In light of this, I could not see myself throwing hundreds more pounds at yet another high-tech doorstop.

Then I read Svend's PS4 Rumour Round-Up... and who am I kidding!? I own a PS3, an Xbox 360, three computers, two iPads, a handful of iPods and I've had one of every iPhone except the 5.

I have a 55" LED TV, and a 120" HD Projector. Around my house are scattered liberally BlueTooth this's and WiFi thats. I read Stuff and T3 as if they were holy doctrine (I never read holy doctrine, so maybe that's a bad analogy).

New technology to me is like chocolate coated crack dusted with mint meth. Basically, if it's got a blue LED on it, I'll buy it. Unless it runs Android.

According to Svend's article, PS4 is only going to cost me 300. That's a pittance, a bagatelle. And for that I'll get 4K video.

Ostensibly, that's as big a deal as Blu-ray was at PS3 launch - an incipient video format, than none of us have a player for bundled, Trojan Horse style into a new games console.

The thing is that, although the 4K video display standard has been decided, the distribution medium hasn't - so PS4 can hardly be a 4K "player". Sure, it might be able to display games in 4K resolution, and even stream movies (if your bandwidth is up to it).

Most exciting though is the share button. The PS4, we're told, will sneakily and transparently monitor and buffer our last 15 minutes of gameplay - and then, when we have a particularly hilarious crash in Motorstorm, or discover the fiendishly hidden treasure in Tomb Raider - we'll be able to share the video with the world at a single button press.

This will be a boon to all those who think there is not enough inane video drivel on YouTube. Those of you who think that there is too much signal in the noise - rejoice, the solution is at hand - literally.

You may detect a note of cynicism in my words - and you'd be right. Although I do believe that this will be a neat feature, I also know that it will be used to spray paint the world with tedious dross, because, open-world and free-roaming as video games pretend to be, they are actually quite controlled and on tracks - and what we'll see is the same stuff again, and again and again ad nauseum. But still, it makes me want a PS4 like I want nothing else at present.

And there will be the PS4's new on-line services. PSN has always been free to play on-line games and XBox Live has always charged. Which clearly means XBox Live is better. Now Sony may be going to start charging for on-line gaming - which means that it'll be as good as XBox live. Yay, all you people who wanted to have to pay - you got your way.

Another rumoured feature is the ability to watch your friends playing games. Tim SPOnG thinks this will be a killer app, that will wrap the next generation up for Sony, in an avalanche of word-of-mouth viral marketing that will mean everyone HAS to have a PS4.

Conversely, this sounds to me as compelling as a bad toothache. If I want to interact with my friends in a gaming environment, I want to be playing along with them, not sat in my bedroom watching them in a detached voyeuristic/stalkerish manner.

The last, and perhaps most significant part of the PS4 scenario is the integration of Gaikai. There has been a "will they/won't they" debate about whether the next generation will go media-free - they won't! That's not to say that Sony and Microsoft wouldn't like to - but poor broadband penetration in certain key markets means they can't... YET.

The old argument of them still needing bricks and mortar retail is becoming increasingly spurious as bricks and mortar retail gets hammered into the ground by tax dodging school-and-hospital closers, Amazon. But the tipping point has not quite been reached - and while physical sales are moving on-line, they still outnumber digital downloads, and will do for some time yet.

So, having a "traditional" console with a closely integrated Cloud gaming aspect enabled Sony to push users increasingly to the disk free future by slowly incentivising them to move to gaming in the cloud, thus cutting everyone but the publisher and Sony out of the gaming pie and eliminating that pesky second hand market in one fell swoop!

So, the PS4 - it's got my geek juices flowing. But when I add all the rumours up, I can't say why. Presumably, I anticipate it will have a really big blue LED.

The opinion expressed in this article is that of the author and does not reflect those of SPOnG.com except when it does.

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