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It’s called -- shocker! -- the Playstation 4.
Sony announced the launch of their new gaming system at a news conference today in New York, but according to developers, the name is the only old thing about their new console.
Sony’s Andrew House called the PS4 “a re-imagination of the gaming experience,” conceived as the most personalized gaming system today. Lead architect for the PS4 Mark Cerny spoke passionately about creating a consumer-based experience fed by game designers.
“We wanted to make sure nothing would come between the player, the platform and the joy of playing,” Cerny said about the evolution of the PS4. The new console will come with an 8GB RAM and separate graphics processing unit “increasing the richness of content available on the system.”
Changes for the Playstation aren’t all on the inside. Cerny unveiled the brand new Dual Shock 4 controller, which includes ergonomic advances, a share button, a headphone jack and is complemented by new version of the PS Eye peripheral that now tracks the location of your hands.
“The result is a much tighter sense of control of in-game actions,” claims Cerney.
But the largest leap forward -- and features that immediately started online buzz -- are the social network capabilities within the new PS4 and the next generation of games.
“Play is no longer an isolated pastime,” Cerny announced.
When you take the new controller in your hands, Cerny said you'll notice a “share” button at your fingertips. Sony claims you will instantly be able to stream your live game session to your friends no matter where they are.
This capability is a result of Sony’s $380 million dollar purchase of cloud gaming company Gaikai in July 2012.
“With that one button, you can broadcast from your game, live 100% real-time to your friends,” claims Gaikai CEO David Perry. Perry said your friends will be able to look over your shoulder, and with your permission, comment live. You can even allow gaming buddies to take over your controller and get you through a tough part of the game.
“With the network, you’ll fight together,” Perry added, “and conquer the world together.”
With the cloud gaming capabilities, gamers will be able to start a session on the PS4 and then take it with you on the Playstation Vita handheld device, as well as share the entire thing with everyone on your friends list. In fact, Perry announced partnerships with Facebook and Ustream to make it all happen. The Gaikai CEO said friends can drop items for you within your game and developers can even add features to improve your experience.
“We believe so much in remote play, it’s part of the PS4 architecture,” Perry said. In fact, Sony registered websites last Friday with PS-cloud, Playstation-cloud and other variations in the URL.
Sony is also making the PlayStation sandbox available to developers everwhere. Sony is moving beyond their current development site, integrating those tools within the PS4. Cerny revealed his team conducted research within the last five years to make developers happy and create an architecture to facilitate game design creativity. He called it “a platform by game creators, for game creators.”
Game developers marched out to the stage throughout the news conference to announce cooperative gaming opportunities. Want to race as part of a team against other teams? There’s a game for that. Sony seems to be betting it all on un-tethered gaming, rich access for indie developers and social gaming. Perry told the packed hall that “this is an investment in the millions of the loyal Playstation users across the world.”
Of course, some of the biggest questions were not immediately revealed -- such as exactly how much the PS4 will cost you or the exact release date. However, you can expect some developments on those fronts shortly -- and almost definitely by E3 in mid-June. Crave will be live at E3 and bring you everything as it happens.