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Sony and the PlayStation 4 – D+PAD Speaks

22:5925/02/2013Posted by D+PAD Staff63 Comments

At last, it seemed that the folks at Sony were preparing to show off their latest world-beating system. After months of rumours, conjecture and plain guess-work from so-called ‘sources’, this was the moment that gamers everywhere were to be shown the future of their beloved medium. As key members took to the floor at the 2013 PlayStation Meeting with nary a sign of the machine itself, it became clear that this was a presentation which would ruffle a few feathers, though perhaps not in the way that Sony would have hoped.

Now the D+Pad team reflects on the events of the evening, having weighed up the pros and cons of what was shown. Did the PlayStation 4 ‘reveal’ send our gaming hearts aflutter, or were we left grasping at our home systems in defiance of things to come?

Dave Stuart

If the history of video game announcements should have taught us anything, it’s that the anticipation inevitably out-shadows the reality. That being said, I approached the Sony press conference more out of curiosity, and came away quietly encouraged. There is a lot still to prove, but in terms of tone and message this felt like a very different Sony, one eager to make up for past mistakes and refocusing on the games, and the gamers.

So whilst we had some fairly impressive tech demos and nice looking, but familiar gameplay experiences, what I really took away was the engagement with developers and focus on smoothing out the basic fundamentals of the user experience. So the streaming services, background downloading and ability to pause and resume games immediately are all welcome and smart choices. Yet to be seen then are the games themselves. The PS4 has potential as a platform, and even though brand loyalty these days is something of an antiquated notion it at least encourages competition, and the success of the Xbox 360 certainly seems to have had an effect on Sony this time around.

Ultimately all I am interested in is what new experiences we will be able to have on these new consoles, and this is the one area largely left blank so far. The potential is certainly there but we may have to wait until E3 to see what some of the world’s biggest game studios have in store for the next generation. For now, Sony has merely whetted everyone’s appetites and as long as that was all you were hoping for then I’d count the event as a success.

Sean Evans

Above all else, last Wednesday’s event revealed an incredibly humbled Sony. Although they have enjoyed a moderately successful run with the PS3, they made a lot of weird decisions across the length of its continued lifespan, both on the developer and consumer end. Thankfully — for everyone involved — the much-hyped meeting in New York showed us a brief glimpse of the ideas behind Sony’s next-gen machine, and did so with some vastly impressive use of tech and suggestive service features to back it all up. For now, many of the talking points raised are just ideas. What they briefly showed, however, seemed smart. Being able to share memorable moments in games — via a button on the controller itself no less — and having it built into the console’s infrastructure could be a cool feature. The same goes for the live streaming options; it’s a clever way to build on the social aspects of gaming in a way that’s unified and (hopefully) easy to do.

Plus, given what they’ve shown, the initial line-up of potential launch games for the system could prove to be totally worthwhile. It’s true that Killzone Shadow Fall, whilst beautiful, does seem a little rote; and Drive Club, although another beautiful showing, has a heavy-duty rival against the likes of Forza and the seal of quality that series boasts for Microsoft and Xbox in general. Even so, I’m really optimistic for the promise of good games at PS4’s launch, even in these early days. And that’s the most important thing of all, non?

Sony’s in a good position with the PS4. If their focus on strong games tied to sensible social hooks comes to light in a meaningful way, and they strike against the competition with a stronger online presence with the likes of the awesome PlayStation Plus, then Microsoft might well be in trouble for the next few years. The ball’s in their court now, and they’d better be ready to rumble. The next-gen is going to be a full-on fight to the death for both companies, and it’s going to be a fun show.

Charles Etheridge-Nunn

Like most people, I felt disappointment in the lack of anything substantial in the PS4 event, but I came in expecting only ‘bigger numbers on the specs, a higher price and more rigid controls’. The first one hit on the nose, because really that was a given. The second we don’t know. The third was proven wrong, as there have been confirmations that the PS4 won’t lock used games out and that’s a relief.

It doesn’t matter that we weren’t going to see the console – other launch shows have been coy with the case. The idea that it’s been made with consultation from devs is good though, and makes me think that the PlayStation will continue to be home for most console indie games. The controller looks okay. It needed triggers and the touch-screen’s unnecessary, but as a Wii U player, I can say that having a touch-pad between your hands is actually pretty cool. The only thing I don’t care for is all the sharing. I’m a player who often likes the solitary experience and can’t see the use in showing people videos or screenshots from games.

There’s not much aside from that which can be said from what little we saw. The news pretty much boils down to, “yes, the controller’s that one which was leaked, and there will be a console called PlayStation 4 which will play the exact same games, just shinier and with more social network widgets.”

Chris Morell

I think the good people at Sony should remember that it’s not really a reveal unless you’re showing the console itself. Such a statement could probably have been wavered had there been some industry-shaking announcements or – more importantly – enough new game footage to whet our appetites. Unfortunately, what transpired was a non-committal presentation which promised big things but demonstrated none. It’s clear that online play is to become an even greater focus in the coming generation, and this is no more evident than with the Share button on the PS4 controller. I have a feeling that it will either be wholly accepted (sending friends cool moments in a way that’s as natural as social networking) or ignored completely. Much of this not only depends on how ready we are to use such a feature, but on how well Sony integrates it.

The biggest problem was the lack of exciting games on show. To name a few, we saw a tech demo of the Unreal Engine 4, a trailer for Capcom’s Deep Down, another for InFamous: Second Son, gameplay footage of Killzone Shadow Fall and the oft-touted Watch Dogs – then who could forget Knack, eh? The video of the little character building himself up from particles was not without its charm, but it was hardly a notch above the games we have so readily available. The main issue here is that it seems we’re set to enjoy the same sort of games we’ve been playing for years, but on a console with better graphics and no backwards compatibility. Streaming old games isn’t exciting to me, nor do I want recommended games to be downloaded automatically. At least we won’t need a constant connection as some rumours had reported, and the used games market has been spared extinction for at least one more console cycle.

This is the PlayStation brand, so something tells me I’ll be buying it one day regardless. Those without such a compulsion won’t have been sold by the lacklustre showing, which means Sony will have to up its game in the coming months.

Chris Braithwaite

When Sony trailed the announcement of the PS4 a month or so ago, my brain’s initial reaction was “you’re going to be buying that.” Nothing coming out of Sony’s press conference on Wednesday has changed my mind. I’m still interested in what Microsoft have to say (I’m not quite that much of a Sony fanboy), but if the two systems are vaguely similar I’m pretty sure my brain will still force me to buy a PS4 on release day.

Sony’s press conference didn’t really reveal too much either of interest or concern. I’m not really looking forward to it any more or any less than I was before the press conference, and there’s nothing they said (or avoided saying) that has me particularly worried. I’m glad of the post press conference confirmation that there won’t be restrictions on pre-owned games, because as a committed cheapskate I love the pre-owned market. And despite the focus on social features, the fact that there won’t be an always-online requirement either should please a lot of people.

There are a few features that intrigue me, not least the touch-pad on the controller. That seems an interesting concept. It seems like a really tidy way of adding an extra input without sacrificing the familiarity with the controller that’s been established over the last ten or so years. It sounds like a pretty versatile idea too, given that there’s a lot gestures that are now intuitive to anyone who uses a smart phone that could easily be adapted to games. There should be quite a lot of interesting opportunities and innovations with the touch-pad. I imagination that there’ll also be a few early games which push the touch-pad use and totally fail with it, but that’ll be part of the teething process. It’s not a new core mechanic (like motion control), but it does feel like a mechanic that can quickly become very familiar. Overall, controller looks like a step up from the Dual Shock 3, although I’m not sure what the speaker adds

The Vita integration seems like a pretty amazing feature too. I’ve thought for a while that the best bet for handheld consoles to exist as a separate entity to smartphones is as an extension of core consoles, and that looks like how Sony is going with it. The option to play a game, continue it on the Vita, and then go back and continue on the console sounds fantastic. I think I’d find this an even more intriguing feature if I had a wife and kids who I had to share the TV with.

Finally, the fact that Sony haven’t yet ruled out a simultaneous or near-simultaneous worldwide release is pleasing. I’m still not expecting to see the PS4 in Europe in 2013, but at least the possibility hasn’t been completely kyboshed.

As I said, I was pretty much sure I’d be getting a PS4 anyway before the press conference, and nothing has changed my mind, although there was nothing they said or showed that had me reaching for the nearest pre-order form either. I don’t feel like it was a great launch event, but it was good enough.

You’ve heard what our writers think, but what were your impressions? Did Sony’s show reveal too little or did it do exactly what it needed to? Got an opinion? Then sound off in the comment section below…

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