Sony Shows Off PlayStation 4 Capabilities

The Japanese electronics giant talked about its upcoming game console for the first time and said it will go on sale this holiday season. But Sony didn't reveal the device itself. Presenters played games that were projected on screens in a converted opera house, but the PlayStations themselves were hidden backstage throughout Wednesday evening's two-hour event.
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Associated Press,

NEW YORK (AP) — Sony showed off what the PlayStation 4 can do, but not what it will look like.

The Japanese electronics giant talked about its upcoming game console for the first time and said it will go on sale this holiday season.

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But Sony didn't reveal the device itself. Presenters played games that were projected on screens in a converted opera house, but the PlayStations themselves were hidden backstage throughout Wednesday evening's two-hour event.

"I don't know that the box is going to be something that's going to have a dramatic impact on people's feelings about the game. It will be a color and a size fairly comparable to previous consoles," said Jack Tretton, CEO of Sony Computer Entertainment of America, the U.S.-based arm of the PlayStation business.

"There's a big story to tell here, and it's going to take between now and the holiday season to get all the details out there," Tretton said in an interview.

Tretton said the price of the PS4 hasn't been decided yet, but hinted that it wouldn't be as high as the PlayStation 3 was initially. The PS3 debuted in 2006 with two models for $500 and $600. It now sells for about $300.

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The PS4 will be jostling for attention this holiday season with Microsoft's successor to the Xbox. Details on that device are expected in June. Xbox 360 came out a year before PS3 and has been more popular, largely because of its robust online service, Xbox Live, which allows people to play games with others online. Having an event this early allows Sony to grab the spotlight for a few months, though the lack of an actual device was noted by many people on Twitter and elsewhere.

Sony did reveal that the insides of the PS4 will essentially be a "supercharged PC," much like an Xbox. That's a big departure from the old and idiosyncratic PlayStation design and should make it easier for developers to create games. Sony Corp. is using processing chips made by Advanced Micro Devices Inc.

"One of the big challenges we faced in the past was that we created great technology that we handed over to the development community, and they had to go through a learning curve before they could harness it. And when they did, we saw some phenomenal games," Tretton said. "We wanted to lower that barrier of entry and really give them the ability to create tremendous gaming experiences from Day One."

The adoption of PC chips also means that the new console won't be able to play games created for any of the three previous PlayStations, even though the PS4 will have a Blu-ray disc drive, just like the PS3. Instead, Sony said gamers will have to stream older games to the PS4 through the Internet.

Other new features revolve around social networking and remote access. With one button, you can broadcast video of your game play so friends can "look over your shoulder virtually," said David Perry, co-founder of the Sony-owned Internet game company Gaikai. With remote play, you can run a game on the PS4 to stream over the Internet to Sony's mobile gaming device, the PlayStation Vita, which debuted last year.

The goal is to make the PS4 so good at figuring out what games and other content you want that it can download it without being asked, so that it's available when you realize you do want it, Sony said.

"Our long-term vision is to reduce download times of digital titles to zero," said Mark Cerny, Sony's lead system architect on the PS4.

The PS4 is arriving amid declines in video game hardware, software and accessory sales. Research firm NPD Group said game sales fell 22 percent to $13.3 billion in 2012. With the launch of the PS4, Sony is looking to attract people who may have shifted their attention to games on Facebook, tablet computers and mobile phones.

Forrester analyst James McQuivey said Sony is missing the point by building what amounts to an upgraded PS3.

"Sony believes the future will be like the past and has built the game console to prove it," he said. "Tablets and smartphones now engage more people in more minutes of gaming than consoles will ever achieve."

Sony showed an updated controller that adds a touchpad and a "share" button. The controller also features a light bar, which means a new PlayStation camera can more easily track the device for motion control.

Dennis Fong, CEO of the gaming-centric social networking site Raptr, thinks Sony's focus on sharing with the PS4 will be good for both gamers and business.

"The ability to capture an image, video or instantly broadcast what's on players' screen to their friends is transformational for the new generation of consoles," said Fong. "Providing them with community tools to create videos and live broadcasts is a cool feature for gamers, and also great for business. User-generated content keeps players engaged with the game even while they aren't playing it and also attracts new users from the buzz generated around this content."

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Ratings

Overnights, adults 18-49 for September 25, 2016
  • 1.
    5.5/18
  • 2.
    2.6/8
  • 3.
    1.2/4
  • 4.
    0.9/3
  • 5.
    0.5/2
  • 6.
    0.2/1
Source: Nielsen

Reviews

  • Rob Owen

    Easily fall’s best broadcast network comedy pilot, NBC’s The Good Place offers a clever high-concept premise that’s complemented with intelligent, sometimes absurdist humor. Created by Michael Schur, co-creator of NBC’s Parks and Recreation, The Good Place is a highly serialized series that’s essentially set in heaven and stars Kristen Bell and Ted Danson. NBC made five episodes of The Good Place available for review, and the show not only holds up, but also it improves, deepening characters that initially feel one-note and frequently leaving viewers guessing with cliffhanger endings to many of the episodes. The combination of snappy dialogue and winning but flawed characters makes The Good Place a great bet for fans of smart TV comedy.

  • Maureen Ryan

    Pitch has swagger, for good reason. It gets the big things right; the Fox drama about the first female baseball player in the Major Leagues is one of the year’s most assured and exciting debuts. But part of what impresses about the pilot is also the way it confidently strings together so many small but telling details. Ginny (Kylie Bunbury) is the first woman to be called up from the minors to the big leagues, and no show since Friday Night Lights has done a better job of portraying the internal and external pressures that weigh heavily on young athletes asked to do much more than merely succeed on the field. Pitch will likely do a good job of getting viewers to root for it. The hope is that the show won’t be an impressive, short-lived curiosity, but rather a long-term phenomenon.

  • Kevin Fallon

    In a fall TV season that’s already making a splash for championing diverse, distinctive voices in an array of projects that they created, wrote, and starred in, Better Things on FX stands out. The show is created by, written by, and starsPamela Adlon. She plays Sam Fox, the single mother of three daughters modeled after her own reality-show-ready experience raising three girls in Los Angeles following a divorce. Sam is also, like Adlon, a working actress — on shows both raunchy, a la Californication, and animated for children, like her role on Recess. It’s a refreshingly blunt take on single motherhood without sacrificing the warmth of parental love, portraying the dance between selfishness and selflessness that’s at the heart of being a parent — especially one weathering the hormonal fireworks of a household of four women at different ages.

  • David Wiegand

    The fall TV season doesn’t count as much as it used to — we already know that. But no matter how many retreads the broadcast networks throw at viewers in the next few months, this fall will be memorable because of the premiere of Atlanta on Tuesday, Sept. 6, on FX. The half-hour comedy created by and starring Donald Glover (Community), simply and brilliantly recalibrates our expectations of what a TV comedy is and how black lives are portrayed on the medium.

  • Louisa Ada Seltzer

    The second reboot of the 1980s John Candy movie Uncle Buck, bumped by ABC from midseason, has the same tired jokes you'll find on any second-rate sitcom. Too bad, because Mike Epps is appealing and ABC would be wise to keep him around for future shows, but there’s just not enough to this show to suggest it will last past summer. It also airs against NBC’s America’s Got Talent, summer’s No. 1 program on broadcast, which may make it even harder to find an audience.

  • Neil Genzlinger

    Bryan Cranston brings his Tony Award-winning interpretation of President Lyndon B. Johnson to television in an adaptation of the Robert Schenkkan play All the Way, and it’s still quite a sight to behold, just as it was on Broadway in 2014. Nothing beats witnessing this kind of larger-than-life portrayal onstage, of course. But the television version, presented by HBO, offers plenty of rewards, allowing Cranston to work the close-ups and liberating him from the confines of a theater set. Cranston’s performance is a gem — in his hands, this accidental president comes across as an amazing bundle of contradictions, someone who seems at once too vulgar for the job and just right for it.

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