So, now that the PS4’s been announced; just what can it do? We’re finally seeing the results of Sony buying out Gaikai and many more of the cool tricks that they have up their sleeves.
We’re expecting a lot out of the next generation of consoles. Not just in terms of graphical and processing power, but exactly the number of things we can do with them. Through the entirety of the seventh generation, we’ve seen use of our home consoles for more than just gaming. They’ve become social devices, entertainment centers, for some people they’ve become the centrifuge around which our lives turn. Gaming has become an important part of our day-to-day activities, so as gaming evolves we expect to be able to do more with it.
So what about the details of the console? Let’s start with the controller.
The new PS4 DualShock controller features a pair of touchscreens. One on the front and another on the back (Much like the Vita). These optional control formats allow developers to do a few new things with their games, as evidenced in some of the innovative games we’ve seen on the PS Vita. For now we’ve not seen any games that plan to make any obvious use of the controller, but I expect we’ll start seeing things by E3 2013.
Going back to the social aspect of consoles, we want to connect with our friends, and gaming is a great way to do that. Multiplayer is a staple of gaming that allows us to always be connected, but how can we progress further down this avenue?
The PlayStation 4 looks to bring a new level of social interactivity with it’s new sharing features and cloud gameplay. The share button on the pad allows you to instantly show screenshots, video footage and all sorts with your friends online.
Not only is this a great social aspect, but that kind of media sharing is a staple part of eSports, which is a good step towards that market for Sony.
The cloud gaming service that will be part of the PS4, courtesy of Gaikai, will allow you to do things that were never before possible in gaming. Whilst you’re connected with your online friends, you’ve always been able to play co-operatively and competitively but never much more than that.
The cloud service will allow your friends to participate in a completely different way; if you’re stuck somewhere in a game, you can petition your friends to try it themselves from the comfort of their own home by streaming your game to them.
There’s more you can do with the cloud gaming than just allow your friends to assume direct control. Whilst it was unfortunately announced that the PS4 won’t have any backwards compatibility, you will be able to stream PS1/PS2/PS3 games via the cloud gaming service provided by Gaikai. This does mean that you might be paying for games you already own, but buying a PS4 doesn’t mean you have to get rid of your PS3.
As for entertainment; with the explosion of services such as Netflix we expect to be able to use our internet connected devices as stand-in entertainment centres. Sony announced today that all of these entertainment services would be returning with the PlayStation 4. This will make the PS4 at least as much of an entertainment center as the PS3, if not with even more capability.