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Sony Unveils Next-Gen PlayStation, PS4

February 20, 2013

PlayStation Feb. 20 Event

As expected, Sony today unveiled the PlayStation 4, which executives said represents a shift from thinking of the PlayStation as a simply "a box or console" to simply the best place to play games.

"PlayStation 4 will unleash imaginations to create next-gen experiences that surpass gamers' wildest expectations, while also allowing developers to explore other business models," Andrew House, president and Group CEO of Sony Computer Entertainment, said during a launch event in New York City. The PS4 is "founded on a conviction that we must give gamers the kind of multi-dimensional experiences they expect and observe."

The PS4 runs an x86 processor, as well as an enhanced PC GPU. It will have 8GB of high-speed unified memory, as well as system memory backed by local storage.

DualShock 4
The new system will come with a revamped controller, known as the DualShock 4. PS4 architect Mark Cerny said Sony has enhanced the feel of the joystick and the trigger button, which provides a "much tighter sense of control over in-game actions." The company also enhanced the rumble capabilities and reduced controller latency.

DualShock 4

A few new features have been added to the controller, including a touchpad, share button, headphone jack, and a lightbar for simpler, more friendly identification of players. A second peripheral, meanwhile, is a stereo camera that can sense the depth of objects in front of it.

That Share button will let players broadcast their games to Facebook in real time, said David Perry, CEO and founder of Gaikai, which Sony purchased last year. That will allow your friends to "look over your shoulders virtually and interact," he said. Friends can post comments on your screen, but if you're stuck on a level or need assistance, a friend can actually take over your controller and guide you through a level.

Sony is "building this capability into the PS4 and the PS Network, so your circle of PSN friends will become that much more important," Perry said.

A partnership with Ustream, meanwhile, will allow for multi-casting, so gamers can schedule a set time and broadcast a game live.

PS4 Interface
On the PS4 interface, Cerny talked up the use of real names. While aliases will still be available for "when anonymity is important," most of the interactions of the PS4 will be done with friends using real names and profile pictures. PS4 is designed to be "seamlessly interconnected" with your social life.

Apps and Web platforms, meanwhile, will allow for PS4 conversations to be carried "far beyond the living room," Cerny said. "Keep in touch with the evolving world of your game regardless of your location."

To that end, the PS4 will allow for remote play on the PS Vita handheld. "Our long-term goal is to make every PS4 title playable on the Vita," Perry said.

Cerny, meanwhile, stressed personalization; the PS4 "can get to know you and bring you closer to the game and other experiences," he said.

"Our long-term vision to reduce download times of digital games to zero," Cerny said. "If we know enough about you – that game can be loaded and ready to go before you even click the button."

Perry said that PlayStation cloud services will roll out "in phases, but you can be sure that it and the PS4 will change the way we play."

Sony brought a number of game developers onstage at its event to show off upcoming games for the PS4. Cerny actually developed his own game for the console, dubbed Knack. But other games on tap for the PS4 include Evolution Studio's Driveclub, Sucker Punch's InFAMOUS: Second Son, Killzone: Shadow Fall from Guerrilla Games, and The Witness, from the makers of the Braid puzzle game.

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