Cerny laid out five characteristics that the company hopes will
differentiate PS4 from its own previous PlayStation platforms as well as
those by its competitors. Namely, by making it simple, immediate, social, integrated and “personalized.”
By immediate, Cerny
means not only the speed of the custom hardware but also the immediacy
required for suspend/resume operation in game play. The PS4 will also
come with a secondary custom chip responsible for downloading and
processing games in the background.
By social, Cerny talked of
PS4’s “always-on video compression and decompression hardware.” It will
make “sharing video popular” while a gamer interacts with his friends,
he explained. It enables popular “spectating” function simpler and
easier, since all users have to do is to push a “share” button for
real-time sharing of game play on the remote, second screen, he said.
is expected to be used far beyond the living room, said Cerny, as its
use will be “integrated” with other devices including smartphones,
tablets, PlayStation Vita (mobile gaming platform) and the Web. The idea
is to let people play PS4 games on multiple platforms even while they
are away from the PS4 game console in a living room.
PS4 will also offer personalized services by predicting kinds of games a user prefers and pre-loading it for him, Cerny said.
Lessons learned from PS3
industry observers who attended the press conference here were
generally impressed by the energy and confidence Sony and its developer
partners brought to the event.
More encouraging is that Sony’s
PS4 team appears to be taking to heart the lessons they learned from the
PS3. In particular, by embracing the X86-based platform, they believe
that Sony could address what turned out to be fatal issues of product
delay and the lack of content PS3 faced. Sierra Media’s Dipert,
recalling the PS3 launch, noted that “the CELL processor ended up being a
nightmare to program.” Further, when coupled with the late-design-cycle
add of a Nvidia GPU in PS3, it led to “a dearth of compelling game
content not only at the introduction of PS3 but also for a long time
afterward,” he said.
Then, there is also an issue of a comparative launching schedule.
The PS3 was one year later than the Wii and the Xbox 360,
giving both of these other platforms a big market lead. "Consumers had
already bought the big-ticket-item console," Dipert said. "They were assembling game
content libraries. Therefore, they were reluctant to buy yet another
This time around, though, Nintendo’s Wii U
hasn’t taken off on the market, and the next generation of Microsoft’s
Xbox 360 is not out yet.
It remains unclear how
Sony plans to proceed with the migration of native PS4 games to other
platforms (when connected to smartphones, tablets or Vita), or
converting currently available PS3 games to x86. One obvious way to
solve this is to do software emulation. Dipert called it “a really
really hard problem.”
However, with PS4, there's a heavy reliance
on 'cloud'-delivered content. Dipert noted, “It's conceivable that Sony
could convince developers (at least its own game studio) to create
x86-compiled versions of existing PS3 games, which could then be
downloaded to the PS4, thereby providing a no-cost or some-cost 'bridge'
for potential customers with lots of existing PS1, PS2 and PS3
content," he said.