Update: The event ended without showing the console itself. More importantly, we now have a solid official release date: Holiday 2013.
As expected, Sony’s February 20th event witnessed the official PlayStation 4 announcement.
Sony started the event by reaffirming its commitment to PlayStation Vita and PSN before acknowledging that there is demand for a new platform.
The company made it clear that it has learned from PlayStation 3’s greatest pitfalls, and hence it made sure to make PlayStation 4 as developer-friendly as possible. Developers’ input was shaped all aspects of the console from its hardware specs to its software, tools and programming APIs.
To that end, Sony used a familiar X86 CPU and a “super charged” PC GPU as the main components at the heart of PlayStation 4. The console will ship with 8GB high speed GDDR5 RAM and a (large) hard drive of yet unspecified size. To showcase PlayStation 4’s strength, Sony showed an impressive Unreal Engine-powered graphics demo and a physical simulation of 1 million bodies that were all simulated using “a fraction of the GPU.”
Just like PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360, PlayStation 4 will be a multi-purpose entertainment device with more focus on transparent social integration and interaction with different devices such PlayStation Vita and (hopefully) smartphones and tablets. But don’t get fooled: PlayStation Vita is “PlayStation 4’s ultimate companion device.” Sony’s as of today, most PlayStation 4 games can be streamed and played through PS Vita, with the company’s long term goal being to enable that functionality for all PS4 games.
Sony also confirmed that the controller we’ve seen a few days ago is indeed the PlayStation 4 controller. Special attention was given the controller’s “Share” button which Sony claimed to be a revolutionary feature that was never possible on consoles before. Regardless of the validity of this claim, using the Share button, PlayStation 4 players will be able to let their friends watch them play in real time. Friends are also able to comment and write notes on your PlayStation 4 game’s interface directly (if you allow them to, that is). Even more, friends can drop items and supplies at certain in-game locations if the developer allows it.
The company also confirmed that PlayStation 4 is not backward compatible natively and that it is investing in cloud computing technologies that would make all PlayStation 1, 2 and 3 games playable.