Sony unveiled a new-generation PlayStation 4 system on Wednesday and laid out its vision for the “future of gaming” in a world rich with mobile gadgets and play streamed from the Internet cloud.
At a press event in New York, computer entertainment unit chief Andrew House said PS4 “represents a significant shift from thinking of PlayStation as a box or console to thinking of the PlayStation 4 as a leading place for play.”
PS4 was designed to get to know players, ideally to the point of being able to predict which games people will buy and have them pre-loaded and ready to go.
It also allows live streaming of gameplay in real-time, letting friends virtually peer over one another’s shoulders and even letting game makers to act as “directors” guiding players along.
Sony has also given a “green light” to building “the most powerful network for gaming in the world,” according to David Perry, chief of Gaikai cloud gaming company purchased last year by Sony.
Gaikai specializes in letting people play videogames streamed from the Internet “cloud” instead of buying titles on disks popped into consoles or computers.
“By combining PlayStation 4, PlayStation Network, and social platforms our vision is to create the first social network with meaning dedicated to games,” Perry said during the event.
A button on the PS4 controller will let players instantly stream in-game action to friends in real time, and even allow someone to transfer control to more capable allies when stuck, according to Perry.
He expressed a vision of letting people access and play videogames old or new on the Internet using PS4, smartphones, tablets or PS Vita handheld devices.
“We are exploring opportunity enabled by cloud technology with a long-term vision of making PlayStation technology available on any device,” Perry said.
“This would fundamentally change the concept of game longevity, making any game new or old available to get up and running on any device, anywhere.”
Sony needs to adapt to changing lifestyles while not alienating videogame lovers devoted to its hardware.
Low-cost or free games on smartphones or tablet computers are increasing the pressure on videogame companies to deliver experiences worth players’ time and money.
With the press event still in progress, Sony had yet to indicate availability or pricing for the PS4. New-generation consoles are typically priced in the $400 to $500 range, and blockbuster game titles hit the market at $60 each.