PlayStation 4 Leaves 5 Important Questions Unanswered
The additions to the classic Dual Shock controller look good. But how exactly do they work?
Sony came through as promised Wednesday, announcing its latest game console, the PlayStation 4, to an awaiting public in New York City. Not only did it rattle off specifics of the hardware, it also showcased its processing power through a variety of technical demonstrations and game announcements, including follow-ups for the popular "Killzone" and "Infamous" series.
But as exciting as all these announcements were for gamers, some things were conspicuously missing from the conference. Most of them are likely to be addressed in the months ahead, possibly at the Electronic Entertainment Expo. But we still can't help but wonder — where was this stuff?
The console itself
Sony proudly announced the PlayStation 4, but, unlike at previous press conferences, it didn't actually show a model. Maybe Sony wants to make sure it's "just right" instead of rereleasing a better model down the road (as it's done with its previous PlayStation systems, including the PS3).
It would be interesting to see if Sony sticks with a similar design, as well as how big a space you would need to reserve for it in your entertainment center. Also, will it have a sliding disc tray, a front-loading drive or a slide-open case, similar to the one on its recently released PlayStation 3 slim model? (The answers will probably come at the E3 gaming conference in June, where big gaming announcements are usually made.)
Functionality of the controller
Sony did show off its new controller, as previously hinted at through leaked prototype photos. It retains the old-school Dual Shock design, adding a small touchpad in the center and a glowing bar up top that allows the console to read the location of the controller. However, during the demo videos, we didn't really get to see how the new touchpad plays out with in-game action, such as utilizing it for precision aim in "Killzone: Shadow Fall" or doing something with your character's movements in the newly introduced platforming game "Knack."
Hard drive size
Though the PlayStation 4 will pack a local hard drive for storage (along with 8 GB of RAM and a Blu-Ray optical drive), Sony didn’t say what size the drive would be. Speculation indicates that it will offer two models again — as it did with the PlayStation 3 — with a difference in price, depending on what size you want.
Hard drive size is important because, as of late, Sony has adopted a practice of releasing its latest games both in physical disc and downloadable form, and most of the games on PlayStation Network take a good amount of space, anywhere from 1 GB all the way up to 15 GB. So, obviously, a large hard drive, about the size of 1 TB (terabyte), perhaps, would be in order.
Backwards compatibility details
Apparently, the PlayStation 4 won't play discs of PlayStation 3 and earlier games. However, Gaikai did confirm that those who purchase the system will be able to play classic PlayStation 3 titles, as well as classic PlayStation 1 and PlayStation 2 games and PlayStation Mobile offerings, through the convenience of the "cloud," connecting to one of Sony's servers and instantly gaining access to the game. However, it didn't go into specifics of how it would work. Does the game unlock if you own a physical copy, or do you need to pay a subscription fee, even to play the games you've already bought? Will you be able to trade in your older PS3 games for a PS4 system reservation?
Price and release date
Finally, we do know that the PlayStation 4 is coming "holiday 2013," but Sony stopped just short of giving an official release date, as well as a price. Rumors are going to run wild until they're made official (figures from $429 to $529 are bouncing around at the moment). Sony has rarely missed a release date. But price is a big factor. The high figure on the initial PlayStation 3 ($499 to $599, depending on model) made it a nonstarter for a lot of gamers. Only when prices dropped did the console take off.