What Sony announced last night wasn’t a game console; it was an idea.Or, more precisely, a bunch of computer parts likely living in a nondescript temporary computer tower somewhere.
We have no idea what the console will look like, and neither does Sony. We only got a brief glance at what the main menu and operating system will look like. We have no idea what kind of apps and streaming content will be available beyond the basics like Netflix and Hulu that are already on the PS3. We don’t know how much it’ll cost.
It’s pretty clear the PS4 doesn’t exist yet.
And in an odd twist, it feels like we know more about Microsoft’s unannounced next-generation Xbox than we do about the console Sony attempted to unveil last night.
The closest we got to new PS4 hardware was a look at the controller and a list of PC parts that will power the console. (Based on that information, you could pretty much build your own PS4 with computer parts readily available on sites like Newegg).
Here’s the problem.
We’ve moved beyond the era where video game console makers can wow crowds with graphics so good your eyes will bleed and crazy powerful hardware specs. That may get the hardcore gaming crowd excited, but if the PS4 is going to be a hit Sony should be thinking about what normal people want on their TV. There’s still a huge opportunity for someone to swoop in and completely dominate the living room, but it doesn’t feel like Sony cares about that.
All we saw yesterday was demo after demo after demo after demo of games that appeal to Sony’s loyal fanbase. There’s little reason for anyone else to care.
The real challenges for Sony’s PS4 venture are how it will handle social gaming and the recent mobile gaming craze on devices like smartphones and tablets. We got a taste of that last night when we saw how the PS4 can beam games wirelessly to Sony’s handheld PlayStation Vita gaming system. And there are some cool sharing features that will let you upload videos of your gaming sessions to Facebook and Ustream by pressing a “Share” button on the controller.
Unfortunately for Sony, all of that cool stuff felt empty during last night’s event, and there are some doubts the PS4 will be able to fulfil Sony’s promise to deliver streaming games to the console.
No one expected the PS4 to be 100% finished, but most expected to at least get a look at the hardware and get a better idea of how it’ll work in the real world. The entire event felt like a ploy to get ahead of Microsoft’s impending next-generation Xbox announcement. The result was two uncomfortable hours of nothing.
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