11 Predictions for the PS4

Well folks, the new year is upon us, and for us here at Padinga, that means one thing… getting our Video Game P&P* License re-certified. (*Press and Punditry; and no, there really isn’t such a thing. It’s called satire.) So to prove ourselves as official Pundits At Large, I give you… Our Official Predictions for the Playstation 4. In 2012. Probably nearly two years before its release.

Balls, folks. We have them. Michael Pachter, eat your heart out.

Read up after the Break.

1. Blu-Ray Drive, Blu-Ray Discs

Sony can’t afford to not stay behind another one of its flagship products: the Blu-Ray format. In an effort to maintain solidarity across its financial pipelines, the PS4 will stick with the Blu-Ray format, and may become the platform of the next generation which finds itself requiring its players to switch discs for larger games. Having a Blu-Ray player in its game system not only reduces costs for disc printing, it drives further Blu-Ray adoption for another generation. That being said…

2. Every PS4 Game Will Also Be Downloadable

This is one step closer to doing away with hard media entirely, something that Sony surely wants to adopt in order to cut costs and piracy. However, it knows that the market is not quite ready for this concept as a mandate; while the percentage of internet-based gamers is high, it is not high enough for Sony’s liking. As games get larger, file transfer times get longer, so expect Sony to innovate with the ability to start playing a game WHILE it downloads.

3. Graphics Will Be On Par with PS3 Tech Demos

In true Sony fashion. The PS2 tech demos showed Toy Story-level graphics, which we never really got until the PS3. The PS3 tech demos showed a rendering of Alfred Molina you wouldn’t believe wasn’t real, but the actual games couldn’t deliver this level consistently. Only Heavy Rain really delivered anything near the level that was shown. However, it most certainly delivered on the Toy Story-level that the PS2 tech demos had on display. Lather, rinse, repeat.

4. Online Play Won’t Suck

That’s right, my friends; Sony knows it has hammered, wrenched, and otherwise screwed the pooch with online thus far, and the Vita’s largely-online presence indicates a focus in that direction. Expect dedicated servers with improved matchmaking, a more consolidated & persistent online presence, and SDK tools that make the whole username/online concept smoother than buttah.

5. Sony Continues to Push Home

Despite its existence as a ghost town on the Sony servers, the recent re-release/re-vamp of Home shows that Sony hasn’t given up hope on Home yet. It won’t necessarily be improved much, aside from the obligatory graphical overhaul, in order to be backwards compatible with the PS3 Home client. Expect cross-promotion galore in order to get it all sorts of facetime, and possibly even a mode which lets it hover persistently behind the XMB when no other programs are running, just so that it’s always there in your vision, showing you the tantalizing world of social interaction as if looking through rose-tinted glass.

6. The Move is All But Abandoned

Sony has all but conceded to the Kinect in terms of motion-gaming, as its holiday catalog has shown. Unless Sorcery and/or Medieval Moves: Deadmund’s Quest show some surprising success, the rest of the PS3′s Move Catalog looks to be third-party tack-ons with no real substance or contribution to the Move platform. Sony knows this, and knows that the Wii’s own waggle has lost its wag, so it will cut its losses here. Some sort of camera add-on will live on, replicating many of the features of the 360′s camera, such as webcam conferencing and taking pictures. Expect to also see some Kinect-like features, such as motion-tracking games, and possibly even technology as radical as eye-tracking.

7. Sony Will Copy Another System’s X-Factor in Some Fashion

Good ol’ Sony just wouldn’t be Sony if they didn’t replicate its competitors in some fashion. Expect the Vita to work with the PS4 to emulate the Wii U’s AR and TV-separation abilities, and if the next Xbox has some kind of unique successful feature, expect the sincerest form of flattery for that feature as well.

8. The SDK Will Be Usable and Comprehensive

Sony has learned a few lessons from this generation, not the least of which is humility. They are fully aware that their PS3 SDK platform has not exactly been conducive towards multi-platform releases and ports, especially during the early years of the console’s life. It cost them a large measure of early success, especially in terms of console-exclusives and cases where simultaneous console/PC releases were desired. In order to not come out of the starting gate stumbling, Sony will look to win support with developers by having an accessible and powerful set of developer tools that specifically target cross-platforming needs. On a personal note, I’m hoping for a set of physics engine tools that finally account fully for hair and clothing collision!

9. Linux Will Be Officially Released On the PS4, Only to Be Stripped Away Later

It’ll happen. Sony has a standard practice of releasing Linux on its consoles in Europe in order to meet requirements for tax breaks that target devices that can pass off as “home computers”. Later, once the console is not actually losing money on each piece of hardware sold, they’ll pull this support in order to mitigate piracy attempts. The online hacker community will be incensed yet again, same as it ever was.

10. Christmas 2013 or Later

I know that’s not what you want to hear, but it’s hard to indicate otherwise. With a no-show at E3 this year, the earliest we could possibly see this machine is at Tokyo Game Show 2012, and getting a console out in less than a year from its debut is all but impossible. Besides, Sony is in no rush; we’re only six years into the PS3 life cycle, and Sony has declared all along that it intends a 10-year life for the PS3. That’s not to say that the PS3 won’t co-exist along its decendant for a year or two, but it certainly doesn’t need to do more than that. The PS3 has been successful, and there is simply no need to rush it along. We’ll get the PS4 when Sony is damned well ready to give it.

11. The PS4 Will Be a Solid Machine with Large Japanese Support and Fantastic Games

Sony is a company that knows how to turn out a quality product, and though they have made some mistakes with the PS3, it’s still a well-done machine, and the PS4 will follow suit. If you had told industry leaders two decades ago that the last-place entry in home console sales can still be a profitible, successful, and enviable product, you would probably have been laughed at, but there it is. Anyone who assumes that “the PS4 will go down in flames” or “will cause the death of Sony” is a hater or a fanboy, or both. The fact is, the market can support three consoles, and it will continue to do so. No one can know whether Sony will continue to maintain third place, or climb the ranks towards greater success, but I do know this:

Gamers still win, no matter what. We will still get great games and a solid piece of hardware to play them on.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Andrew-Allen/7605503 Andrew Allen

    Agreed on everything except 2. I’m not saying it definitely won’t happen, but there are enough conflicting market interests to make me unsure. Unless Gamestop has a way of keeping profits up, I think they’ll exercise their considerable influence to block this. 

    • http://www.facebook.com/joe.noh Joe Noh

       Isn’t Vita releasing every retail game as physical and digital? I don’t see why Sony wouldn’t do this for the PS4 as well.

      • http://www.facebook.com/people/Andrew-Allen/7605503 Andrew Allen

        A good point. Maybe it will. On the other hand, there’s a lot of vested interest in physical discs, and I don’t think retailers like Best Buy or Toys R Us have found a way to monetize digital purchases yet. So I think they will be resistant to such a change, for fear of its ramifications. Unless they know something I don’t. Many people do. 

  • http://www.facebook.com/dustin.hall1 Dustin Hall

    …of all games, Heavy Rain is your example of ‘graphics closest to tech demo’? …yeah?

    • Mark Ross

      Yes, yes it is. Did you play that thing all the way through? Good god man.

  • Anonymous

    The author’s lacking some serious cred when it comes to following the industry.  Where to start….

    How about #4 – there are _already_ far more dedicated server online games on the PS3 when compared with its console competitors, and the matchmaking for the first-party games works just fine.  Ie, when push comes to shove, online gaming is at its best on PS3, if you play a lot of games (if you only play one game, then clearly the best online gaming will be on the system that runs that game best).  Even better, more games on PS3 also have server/lobby lists, which if you have friends to game with online and can cope with primary-school levels of organisation, tends to yield deeper, more enjoyable results. Of course, matchmaking will still be there (like it is now, again just as good as its competitors) for all the kids that can’t cope with anything more than pressing the quickmatch button.

    Or #3 – There were a bunch of Move games out this holiday – Carnival games, Dancestar Party, Medieval Moves, and some others. In fact, a pretty similar number of Move games as there were Kinect games.  Indeed, based on the logic used in this article, it could be equally (and just as nonsensically) argued that Kinect has conceded to Move.  But why bother with facts when random rubbish is so much more fun?  Sony have been at the forefront of motion control in gaming since they kicked off the latest ‘cycle’ last gen with Eyetoy, and with the popularity of motion games, expecting it to be dropped is like expecting Microsoft to go software-only. 

    Or #1 – if they do (as is likely) stick with Blu-ray, and they foresee bigger games than 50GB, then they’ll likely just make sure the drive is compatible with the quad-layer BD disks.  Hell, Panasonic has developed disks that run off a BD laser that can store 400GB.  You may be just a little off with the disk-swapping comment – only by about 350GB!

    That’s not to say that there aren’t good points to be made – #2, #8, #10 and #13 are all solid predictions, and while #7 is phrased in such a way that suggests Sony does it more than its competitors (when all three to plenty of copying), I would expect all three to copy each other going into the launch stage, although I’d be very surprised if Sony copied the Wii U’s somewhat crazy approach to controllers (either its cost, or using analog nubs instead of sticks, both are issues that are going to cause Ninty grief over time) – more likely, I’d expect an expanded Move that looked a little more like Kinect, but maintained the controllers as well.

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Andrew-Allen/7605503 Andrew Allen

      I always dig comments that take time to spell out their points carefully, so points to you for that. I think you’re totally right in your criticism of point #1, and I also agree that Move hasn’t “conceded” anything. True that. 

      However,”Online gaming is at its best on PS3.” I just cannot possibly agree with that. Putting aside PSN’s repeated crashes and egregious leak of confidential customer information, Xbox Live’s cross-game chat support dwarfs dedicated servers and server lists any day of the week. Maybe if there was a discernible difference in match-making quality, but I’ve owned both system for years, and there ain’t. You’d have been better off pointing out Sony’s more open-door policy with user-created content, which would have at least held some water as a real counterpoint. 

      Also, Sony at the forefront of motion control? Look, the Kinect and Move are both deeply problematic, but at least the Kinect has fascinating potential as a piece of technology. It’s being used everywhere from motion capture rigs and 3-D rendering to physical and speech therapy.Again, if you were to argue that Sony supports their motion control with software better and more consistently than Kinect, then you’re absolutely right. But calling these guys pioneers for aping Nintendo is just…come on.

      • Anonymous

        Points right back at ya for a well argued response :) .  However, I think when it comes to gameplay rather than socialising, dedicated servers dwarf being able to chat with people in another game.  The lag difference between dedicated servers and peer-to-peer or CoD’s ‘one console used as a server’ system is chalk and cheese, and the single largest impact on any online game, from a gameplay perspective, is lag.

        That, and you’ve still got the ability to chat with your team on PS3, it’s not as if everyone runs silent.  You just don’t have the capacity to set up a separate sub-channel of just your mates on that team.  I agree cross-game chat is awesome, and I’ll happily argue that XBL is better than PSN because of it, but cross-game chat isn’t gameplay (hell, by definition it’s not even in the same game, although can usefully be used as such).

        Totally agree matchmaking is (unsurprisingly – Activision are hardly going to code it differently for the 360 than for the PS3) the same on both consoles. However, the author implies through his use of words that it’s actually superior on 360, which is a bit of a stretch.

        As for Sony ‘aping’ Nintendo, that’s just trolling put out by Ninty fans.  Eurogamer says it best:

        http://www.eurogamer.net/articles/digitalfoundry-the-case-for-playstation-move-article 

        And as for innovating, Eyetoy _was_ the first full-body tracking gameplay option on console, by a number of years!

        I’d also note that Move provides (from a gameplay perspective – totally agree that Kinect’s non-gameplay potential is enormous, but I’m arguing from a gaming perspective here – if we’re talking innovation in industrial/professional motion control, then that’s a whole ‘nother issue) a wider range of potential gameplay options.  Hell, most of the ‘core gaming’ ‘Kinect’ things due out this year are voice control – which can be done just as well and sometimes better with a mic!  Move also works _much_ better in relatively confined spaces – not all gamers have the run of their lounge room or a cavernous bedroom.

        However, I also suspect Sony _will_ copy Microsoft by basing the next-gen Move around a Kinect-level camera with IR depth sensing, to create the best of both worlds, and I’d also tip Microsoft to go the other way (create a ‘controller’ for Kinect similar to Move). 

        And then people on both ‘sides’ who don’t own both pieces of kit will be able to enjoy the positives of both :) .

        • http://www.facebook.com/people/Andrew-Allen/7605503 Andrew Allen

          I see your point Axe, fair enough. If the implication is that 360 has superior matchmaking, yeah that’s nonsense. I think it’s up to the individual how much cross-game party chat decides the issue. For me, I use gaming to keep in touch with friends back East, so it’s a deal-breaker. I need to be able to chat just with my people, and move them from game to game seamlessly. I just have to have that. 

          I’m STILL gonna have to argue the Move is a Wii clone, that Eurogamer article notwithstanding. However, I’ll concede that I had forgotten about the Eyetoy. I mean, damn, for the PS2? That’s way way ahead of the pack.

          If anything, it’s too bad they let the Wii take the field and become the motion control guys, when it was clearly on their minds before. 

          • Anonymous

            Aye, Cross-game chat is awesome, it’s just not a gameplay but more a social thing.  As for Move, I’ll deffo agree that the navigation controller is a straight rip-off, but the work on the core motion sensing began well before Ninty announced anything, and is far, _far_ more capable than Ninty’s tech (even it’s motion+ stuff – and I’ve owned both) – at the very least, it’s an evolution, but I’d argue it’s more likely an idea that developed in parallel, and got greenlit when the Wii took off (all of the big three do lots of development on plans that never see the light of day).

            But seriously, from a gaming perspective outside of dance simulations (which the Kinect does _really_ well) and possibly some non-weapon fighting stuff (not the stuff they’ve got out now, but Ryse looks like it has potential), the Move does motion _gaming_ better than the competition.  Move can be used for anything from controlling an RTS (Under Siege and RUSE) to puzzle games (Echochrome ii, Tumble), to light-gun games, to shooters (although I think a controller is better personally, but I do know a few peeps who’ve been swayed), to the standard Sports/Pets/Carnival games stuff.  Kinect does some stuff better, but can’t match the breadth, and  Motion+ can match some but not all of the stuff, and has no AR capability.

            On the by, I think neither Kinect or Move are problematic, but need to be viewed as peripherals, rather than core tech.  I look at my Move set-up like I look at my racing wheel – I don’t expect it to work with every game, nor be supported by 1000 games, but to be good at what it does for a select range of experiences.  Same for Kinect.  Problem is, both Sony and MS would like them to be in everything, which makes about as much sense as playing MW3 with a DDR dance mat!

        • http://www.facebook.com/people/Andrew-Allen/7605503 Andrew Allen

          Amen brother. This motion control thing is getting out of hand. Blegh. It just makes me appreciate a good old-fashioned controller all the more. 

      • Anonymous

        Too right :) .

  • http://www.facebook.com/joe.noh Joe Noh

    The NES Power Glove and U-Force controllers precede the Eyetoy by a long shot. Don’t forget those AWESOME controllers!

    • Anonymous

      lol, aye, I don’t think the gaming public/industry will _ever_ forget the power glove!  Deffo not saying Sony were first, but they were first with something that was at least reasonably successful (multiple millions sold and the like).