We're just hours away from Sony's big event tonight. It's expected that during this event we'll see “the future” of PlayStation — with the PlayStation 4 obviously being the star of the show. The event was first teased earlier this month, but rumors surrounding the PS4 have existed long before this announcement. We're talking months of leaks, rumors and speculation all coming to fruition tonight — or so we hope.
For the sake of our sanity, let's no longer speculate about what will be announced tonight. Let's just assume the PS4 will be the big topic. So what do we know about Sony's next-gen console? Or, rather, what do we think we know?
Price & Release Date
I'm positive we will not get any official comment from Sony regarding the exact price or release date for the PlayStation 4. We may hear some comparable prices and a possibly a time frame, like “Holiday 2013,” but nothing specific. Then again, the latest rumor seems to have a pretty good idea of both of these topics. A source close to Kotaku claimed two different models of the next PlayStation will be available at two different price points: $429 and $529, respectively.
Furthermore, it's believed that the PlayStation 4 will be available in November of this year — though it's unclear if Sony will stagger the system's launch as it did with the PlayStation 3.
Backwards-compatibility thanks to Gaikai
It's rumored that the PS4 will not be backwards-compatible — at least in the sense that you will be able to use physical discs. However, thanks to Sony's acquisition of Gaikai, it might be possible to stream PS3 games to the PS4. A recent report from the Wall Street Journal sourced “people familiar with the company's plans,” claiming Gaikai would allow users to stream full games or demos instantly online without first having to download the full titles to the hard drive.
Streaming with Gaikai gets even better
Gaikai's streaming capabilities on the PS4 may even extend beyond backwards-compatibility. A rumor last night indicated that you'll be able to watch your friends play their games directly from your console's dashboard, even if you don't own the actual game they are playing.
I've personally heard that one of the ideas with this is to allow you to join in mid-level or mid-match and play with your friends. After completing the level or match, you'll have the option to purchase the game and continue playing without interruption via stream as the game downloads in the background.
That sexy controller
In recent days, we've seen more and more of the PlayStation 4's controller. The images are said to be early prototypes of the controller, but they still give us a good idea of what to expect tonight. The big feature of the controller is a two-point multi-touchpad directly in the middle. It's believed that Sony is looking to integrate the PS4 home console with its Vita handheld by emulating the same user interface. The touchpad is obviously a key contributor. It also looks like the dual analog sticks have undergone a change.
PS Vita/Smartphone integration with the PS4
The PS Vita provides a perfect opportunity for Sony to provide its own take on Nintendo's asymmetrical multiplayer gameplay. Sony has made attempts to link the two systems via cross-play and its cross-buy promotion, but expect further integration. With Gaikai's streaming ability, we could see Vita games streamed to the PS4, or vice versa. I could easily picture the Vita functioning in the same way as the Wii U's GamePad controller.
In the same light, it's also rumored that you may be able to connect your smartphone to the PS4 — similar to Xbox's SmartGlass — to talk to friends and purchase games from the PlayStation Store.
PlayStation Network, PlayStation Cloud, and PlayStation World
Whatever it's going to be called, it appears Sony is looking to revamp its online presence. Initial signs point to Sony charging a fee similar to Xbox LIVE for its services, although we don't know what it will offer. One of the services could, in fact, be the streaming functionality. It was discovered that Gaikai recently registered several domains related to something called “PlayStation Cloud.”
It's also believed that this new service will allow players to share achievements on social networks like Facebook and Twitter in a smoother process. Additionally, it may be possible to share footage of gameplay online through YouTube.
The ability to play pre-owned games
Similar to backwards compatibility, the ability to play pre-owned games has been a hot topic of debate. Publishers are of the belief that moving forward, next-gen consoles will prohibit pre-owned games from being played. Analysts seem to agree that such a move would be suicide for Sony or Microsoft. For the record, SCEA President Jack Tretton is opposed to the idea of blocking used-games. So rest easy.
As for PlayStation World… well, we really don't know much about it, outside of it being mentioned in last night's rumor. It could just be Sony's new name for its online platform.
It's certainly a lot to take in. Hopefully a lot of these rumors get some clarification tonight. The Sony event kicks off at 6:00pm ET. Be sure to tune in to GameZone for up-to-date analysis and thoughts on all of Sony's big announcements.
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