PS4 details that Sony left shrouded in mystery
Yesterday was quite a monumental day for the world of consoles. We all got our very first glimpse of what Sony is calling 'the future.' That's right, the PS4 was officially revealed through a two hour presentation in New York.
While Sony unveiled a few new components to the PS4, there were a few notable exclusions. This was of course expected, given that it is only February, and Sony is saving their big announcements for E3, but they're worth speculating about. So here we go!
DualShock 4's touchpad functionality
Sure, we might have already seen the PS4 controller before the actual Press Conference, but it was still a pretty sexy sight to behold when actually unveiled on stage. While it doesn't deviate much from the look of past PlayStation controllers, it does boast a few new features.
One notable feature is the small touchpad, sitting smack dab in the middle of it. Think of it as the rear-touchpad on the Vita, but on a much smaller scale, and on the front of the controller. What Sony failed to talk about at all, or even mention, was how this new feature will be implemented.
It's safe to assume that games will utilize it one way or another, but it's hard to imagine thanks to its extremely small size. Touchpads on laptops are already far too small, and considering the also-small size of the controller, it's difficult to envision games effectively utilizing the feature. Granted the touchpad could serve to navigate the actual PS4 menu. Either way, this is certainly something we can look forward to finding out come E3 time.
The PS4 Kinect equivalent
One of the more groan-inducing sights of Sony's PS4 reveal was the very quick shot and ultra brief description of their Kinect-like device that sits atop your TV screen. Going by Sony history, we can probably assume the name of it will include some permutation of the word "eye."
The problem with teasing such a component like this is that you'd assume they would at least show one thing it's meant to do -- which they didn't. Is it for games? Is it for apps? Is it for browsing content?
None of the games shown would seem to benefit from anything like this. Driveclub could possibly use it for headtracking, very much like Forza did, but outside of that, it seemed like a pointless reveal, trumped by almost all of the games showed off last night. There was a brief moment where Media Molecule showed off a PS Move tech demo of theirs, which certainly looks like it might use this new peripheral, but given that it can scan the environment in full 3D space, it's going to be used for more than just PS Move functionality.
The console itself
Before we all point out the obvious and say that they're waiting for E3 to show off their new console, we had also made the assumption that Sony might not have wanted to reveal the console due to the potential of any of the markets, be it US or Asia, being put off by the design.
However, there could be one more reason that Sony decided to keep the console behind the curtains. Recalling yesterday's reveal, a lot of emphasis was put on Gaikai and its cloud streaming service. Games can be played simultaneously as they're being downloaded. What does this all hint at?
No actual disc drive
While going all digital would certainly be a really bold move on Sony's part, given yesterday's conference, it all seems pretty realistic. Imagine if Sony did reveal this: everyone with a PS3 right now would be scrambling to sell off their soon-to-be outdated games in preparation to go all digital. Imagine the outcry of fans hoping for all their PS3 games to be backwards compatible, combined with the realization that playing their favorite older games would necessitate digital re-purchase. The fallout from an announcement like that would be a nail in the coffin right now. Obviously if this is indeed true, it won't be accepted by anyone, no matter when it's announced. No reason to rush into that so early.
The final price point
The biggest and arguably most important aspect of the PS4 will be the price point. Sony made a grave mistake back in 2006 by releasing the PS3 in two models for $500 and $600. It made the install base quite small, with only dedicated and die-hard Sony fans picking the console up at launch.
The scary thing about the PS4's price point has almost everything to do with its specs. Sony announced that the console will have 8GB of DDR5 ram, which is unheard of, especially for a console. In terms of retail, Nvidia just announced their latest graphics card, the Titan, which will boast 6GB of DDR5, and that's sitting at $1000 alone.
That reason alone is quite scary because it implies the full-on gaming system carrying even more powerful hardware can't possibly be cheap. Now, we don't know what sorts of cuts Sony may be making to the console. It might be missing some guts internally that could possibly make it somewhat cheaper and offset the crazy price of the GPU and RAM, but it's still an uneasy thought that this thing could easily cost just as much as the PS3 did when it launched.