PlayStation 4 (PS4) is an upcoming video game console from Sony Computer Entertainment. Announced as the successor to PlayStation 3 during a press conference on February 20, 2013, it will launch on November 15, 2013, in North America, and November 29, 2013, in Europe and Australia, and will compete with Nintendo’s Wii U and Microsoft’s Xbox One, as part of the eighth generation of video game consoles.
Moving away from the complicated Cell architecture of the PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4 will feature a simpler AMD processor, in hopes of attracting a broader range of developers and support for the system. Sony also plans to place more focus on social gameplay, incorporating a “share” button on the new controller and making it possible to view in-game play streamed live from friends. The console will focus on interactivity with other services and devices, including Gaikai, a cloud-based gaming service that will offer streaming video game content; PlayStation App, which will connect smartphones and tablets into a second screen to enhance gameplay; and PlayStation Vita, which will be able to play a majority of the games through Remote Play.
According to lead architect Mark Cerny, development on Sony’s eighth-generation video game console began as early as 2008. Less than two years earlier, PlayStation 3 had launched after months of delays due to issues in production. The delay placed Sony almost a year behind Microsoft’s Xbox 360, which was already approaching 10 million units sold by the time the PS3 launched. PlayStation Europe CEO Jim Ryan said Sony wanted to avoid repeating the same mistake with PS3’s successor.
In 2012, Sony began shipping development kits to game developers consisting of a modified PC running the AMD Accelerated Processing Unit chipset.These development kits were known as Orbis. In early 2013, Sony announced that an event known as PlayStation Meeting 2013 would be held in New York City on February 20, 2013, to cover the “future of PlayStation”. Sony officially announced PlayStation 4 at the event. They revealed details about the console’s hardware and discussed some of the new features it will introduce. Sony also showed off real-time footage of games in development, as well as some technical demonstrations. Sony released more information about the console and presented the device itself in June 2013 at the Electronic Entertainment Expo.
The company revealed release dates for North America, Central America, South America, Europe & Australia as well as final pieces of information at the Gamescom conference in Cologne, Germany on August 20, 2013. The console will be released on November 15, 2013 in the United States and Canada, followed by further releases on November 29, 2013, in Australia, Europe, North America, Central America & South America. The PS4 has also been scheduled for a December 2013 launch in South Korea, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Singapore and Malaysia, ahead of the console’s Japanese début on February 22, 2014.
The console design was not revealed at the press conference revealing the console, since the design and specifications were still being finalized. However, some technical specifications about the console were announced. The technology in PlayStation 4 will be relatively similar to the hardware found in personal computers. This familiarity should make it easier and less expensive for game studios to develop games for PS4. The physical console was finally unveiled by Sony at E3 2013.
According to Eurogamer, Sony will make a loss of $60 per unit sold for $399 at launch, but expect to immediately recoup the losses through PlayStation Plus subscriptions and game sales.
Main article: PlayStation 4 technical specifications
PlayStation 4 will use a processor developed by AMD in cooperation with Sony. It will combine a central processing unit (CPU) and graphics processing unit (GPU), as well as other components such as a memory controller and video decoder. The CPU consists of two quad-core Jaguar modules totaling 8 x86-64 cores. The GPU consists of 18 compute units to produce a theoretical peak performance of 1.84 TFLOPS. The system’s GDDR5 memory is capable of running at a maximum clock frequency of 2.75 GHz (DDR equaling 5500 MHz). The console will contain 8 GB of GDDR5 memory, 16 times the amount of RAM found in the PS3 and is expected to give the console considerable longevity. It also includes secondary custom chips that handle tasks associated with downloading, uploading, and social gameplay. These tasks can be handled seamlessly in the background during gameplay or while the system is in sleep mode. The console also contains an audio module, which can support in-game chat as well as “a very large number” of audio streams for use in-game.
Its read-only optical drive is capable of reading Blu-ray Discs at speeds of up to three times that of the PS3’s. The console will feature a hardware on-the-fly decompression module boosting optical disc reading speed and buffer unread data when a game is not actively accessing the optical drive, forming part of Sony’s PlayGo strategy. Like PlayStation 3, the Blu-ray Disc drive should be capable of reading 16-layer 400 GB discs. Although the console will support photos and videos at 4K resolution, the system is not expected to be able to render games beyond 1080p. The console will include a 500 gigabyte hard drive for additional storage, which can be upgraded by the user.
PlayStation 4 will feature WiFi and Ethernet connectivity, Bluetooth, and two USB 3.0 ports. An auxiliary port will also be included for connection to the PlayStation Camera, a motion detection digital camera device first introduced on the PS3. A mono headset, which can be plugged into the DualShock 4, will come bundled with the system. Audio/video output options include HDMI TV and optical S/PDIF audio. The console does not have an analog audio/video output.
Although not available on the system at launch, the PS4 will feature a ‘Suspend mode’ feature. This places the console in a low-power state, while allowing users to immediately resume their game once the console is awoken. The console will also be able to download content such as game and OS updates while it is in this state.
Main articles: DualShock 4 and PlayStation Move
PlayStation Move controllers
DualShock 4 will be PlayStation 4’s primary controller, retailing at US$59/€59/£54. Similar to the DualShock 3, it will connect to the console via Bluetooth 2.1+EDR. The DualShock 3, however, will not be compatible with PS4. The DualShock 4 will be equipped with several new features, including a built-in two-point capacitative touch pad on the front of the controller, which is clickable. The controller will support motion detection via a three-axis gyroscope and three-axis accelerometer and improved vibration, as well as being the first PlayStation first-party controller to feature official support for the Windows PC platform. It will include a non-removable, rechargeable lithium-ion battery tentatively capable of storing 1000 mAh. The tentative design weighs 210 g (7.4 oz), has dimensions of 162 × 52 × 98 mm (6.4 × 2.0 × 3.9 in), and has a rubber or etched plastic backing to enhance grip. The design shown at Sony’s launch event was “near final”.
DualShock 4 controller
The controller will feature several output connectors. Its stereo jack (3.5 mm TRRS connector) will support the connection of a headset to allow a user to speak and hear audio simultaneously. A micro-USB port, an extension port, and a mono speaker will also be included. The controller can be charged via micro-USB, a dedicated charging station, or the console (even when the console is off).
DualShock 4 will feature the following buttons: PS button, SHARE button, OPTIONS button, directional buttons, action buttons (triangle, circle, cross, square), shoulder buttons (R1/L1), triggers (R2/L2), analog stick click buttons (L3/R3) and a touch pad click button. These mark several changes from the DualShock 3 and other previous PlayStation controllers. The START and SELECT buttons have been merged into a single OPTIONS button. A dedicated SHARE button will allow players to upload videos from their gameplay experiences. The joysticks and triggers have been redesigned based on developer input. The joysticks now will feature a concave surface.
DualShock 4 will also feature a light bar that can display different colors. The colors will help identify players and alert them with critical messages such as low health. It also will interact with a camera attachment that perceives movement and depth by using the controller’s light bar. It is based on the existing technology used in the PlayStation Move. Existing PlayStation Move controllers will be supported on PS4.
PlayStation Camera device
PlayStation Camera, initially named PlayStation 4 Eye, is a motion sensing input device for PlayStation 4. It will include two 1280×800px cameras. The lenses will operate with an aperture of f/2.0, with 30 cm focusing distance, and an 85° field of view. The dual camera setup will allow for different modes of operation, depending on the target application. The two cameras can be used together for depth-sensing of objects in its field of vision, akin to the Xbox 360’s Kinect peripheral. Alternatively, one of the cameras can be used for generating the video image, with the other used for motion tracking.
PlayStation Camera will also feature a four-channel microphone array, which helps reduce unwanted background noise and may even be used to issue commands. It is tentatively set to be 186 × 27 × 27 mm (7.3 × 1.1 × 1.1 in) (width × height × depth), with a weight of 183 grams (6.5 oz).It will record video in RAW and YUV (uncompressed) formats and will connect to the console via an auxiliary port. The PlayStation Camera will be released as a separate, add-on accessory, priced at US$59/€49/£44.
Main article: Remote Play
Smartphones, tablets, and PlayStation Vita can interact with PlayStation 4 as second screen devices. Companion devices can also wake the console from sleep mode.
PlayStation Vita can be used for streaming video directly from the console to the handheld, allowing supported games to be played remotely. Sony hopes to make all PS4 games playable on PlayStation Vita. Developers can add Vita-specific controls for use via Remote Play.
The PlayStation App will allow mobile devices to interact with PlayStation 4, similar to Xbox SmartGlass. It will be available for iOS and Android smartphones and tablets. Gamers can use this application to, for example, purchase PS4 titles while away from home and have them remotely downloaded to the console, watch live streams of other gamers, and view in-game maps while playing games.
Software and services
PlayStation 4 system software screenshot shown at the 2013 meeting
PlayStation 4 runs an operating system called “Orbis OS.” The current prototypes are based on the FreeBSD operating system. Although the console does not require an Internet connection to function, it will provide “richer” functionality when it is connected to the internet. The PlayStation Network (PSN) will allow players to access a variety of cloud-based services from PlayStation Store, including Music Unlimited and Video Unlimited subscription services. Customers can browse titles and stream games via Gaikai to demo them almost instantaneously. Online multiplayer access requires a subscription to PlayStation Plus, a policy new to PlayStation consoles, but free-to-play titles such as DC Universe Online, PlanetSide 2 and Warframe will be playable without a subscription, and asynchronous functions such as online leaderboards can still be accessed. Furthermore, owing to the need to subscribe for online multiplayer, Sony will not allow online passes to be used on the system by any publisher. Sony intends to expand and evolve the services it offers over the console’s lifespan.
PlayStation 4 will replace the XrossMediaBar with a new customizable interface titled PlayStation Dynamic Menu. The user profile for players will show recent activity, their full name, and other details in addition to their unlocked Trophies. The PS4 home screen will feature personalized content from friends. Services from third-party vendors, such as Netflix and Amazon Instant Video, will also be accessible within the new interface. It will be possible to multitask during gameplay, such as opening a web browser while playing a game.
Sony is focused on “social” aspects as a major feature of the console. Although the console will have improved social functionality, the features are optional and can be disabled. Gamers will have the option to use real names with friends, in addition to a nickname in other situations when anonymity is important.
The DualShock 4 controller includes a “share” button, allowing the player to cycle through the last 15 minutes of gameplay to select a screenshot or video clip appropriate for sharing. Media is uploaded seamlessly from the console to other PSN users or social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter.
“Ustream’s integration within PS4 consoles will put gamers on a new media field. They will have the ability to direct, produce, and star in their own video game production, simply by being an awesome (or not so awesome!) gamer.”
—Ustream co-founder Brad Hunstable
Gamers can browse live video of titles their friends are playing through the PS4 interface, with cross-game camera and microphone inputs, spectate or assist in their game to help them overcome difficult obstacles, and broadcast live video of one’s own gameplay via public services Twitch and Ustream, allowing friends to view and comment on them from other web browsers and devices.
See also: List of PlayStation 4 games
Sony Computer Entertainment of America chief executive officer Jack Tretton said games for PlayStation 4 will range in price from US$0.99 to $60.00. Games on PlayStation 4 will not be region-locked, so games purchased in one region can be played on consoles in all regions. Additionally, gamers can trade, lend, and re-sell their games, as buying a game means it is owned by them forever.
Sony hopes to make it easier for independent game developers to develop titles for PS4. At the 2013 E3 Sony event, the company revealed that they will allow developers to self-publish their titles on PlayStation Network for PlayStation 3, 4, and Vita systems. The company further announced at least ten indie titles that will make their console debut on PlayStation 4 by the end of 2013.
In addition to the physical media available at retailers, all PlayStation 4 titles can be purchased online. Additionally, every game can be test played for free. Players can sign into any PS4 console to access their entire digital game library. Sony will not prohibit the trading of disc-based games and will not require the console to periodically check in online to validate game legitimacy.
The system will feature downloadable content similar to what is available on other PlayStation platforms.
PlayGo will allow quicker access to supported games. When a title is selected online, only a portion of the game data has to be transferred to the system before it can be started (e.g. the first level), with the remaining parts downloading during play, reducing waiting time. If users prefer to play their game directly from disc, PS4 will install data to the hard drive during play, eliminating loading times. This is accomplished via the system’s secondary processor. Similarly, system updates are downloaded seamlessly in the background without interruption. PS4 also features technology that attempts to determine trends, including titles a gamer is likely to express interest in next, and then automatically download a small percentage of those games in the background, even in sleep mode, in order to save time.
Sony has confirmed that PlayStation 4 will not natively support PlayStation 3 games. While the company has yet to also rule-out on-console emulation of some previous generations, the company has detailed plans to explore cloud-based emulation of previous generations as a long-term solution to the challenges of backwards compatibility.
Sony is planning to launch a cloud-based streaming service through Gaikai, a company acquired by Sony in July 2012. The service will emulate and render previous generations of PlayStation games, streaming them to the PS4 and the Vita, over the internet.
Reception to the console from developers and journalists has been positive.
Mark Rein of Epic Games praised the “enhanced” architecture of Sony’s system, describing it as “a phenomenal piece of hardware”. John Carmack, programmer and co-founder of id Software, also commended the design by saying “Sony made wise engineering choices”, while Randy Pitchford of Gearbox Software expressed satisfaction with the amount of high-speed memory in the console.
Eurogamer called the graphics technology in the PS4 “impressive” and an improvement from the difficulties developers experienced on PlayStation 3. Ted Price, president and CEO of Insomniac Games, said: “As a longtime partner of Sony’s we’ve enjoyed some pretty awesome console tech over the last couple of decades and it looks like the PS4 will continue that trend. I think most of us in the console development world are always looking for more horsepower, more memory, more storage, faster load times… Sony showed clear evidence that we’re getting those boosts with this console. However since we at Insomniac love creating new IP, what seems particularly cool is the Gaikai streaming which should allow you to experience console IP on different types of devices.”
After Sony’s E3 2013 press conference, IGN responded positively to Sony’s attitude towards indie developers and trading games, stating they thought “most gamers would agree” that “if you care about games like [Sony] do, you’ll buy a PlayStation 4.” PlayStation 4’s removable and upgradable hard drive also drew praise from IGN, with Scott Lowe commenting that the decision gave the PS4 “another advantage” over the Xbox One, for which the hard drive cannot be accessed.
GameSpot called PlayStation 4 “the gamer’s choice for next-generation”, citing its price, lack of restrictive digital rights management, and most importantly, Sony’s efforts to “acknowledge its consumers” and “respect its audience” as major factors.
As of August 2013, SCEE has been quoted as saying that over one million preorders have been placed for PlayStation 4.
On October 17, 2013, Sony announced that the PlayStation 4 will cost R$3,999. The cost was explained by a Sony Brazil representative to be largely due to the Brazilian government’s high import charges, which were estimated to make up 60-70% of the cost. Mark Stanley, Sony’s general manager of Latin America, released a statement on October 21 with regards to the price of the PlayStation 4. The included chart shows the Brazilian government’s taxes and import fees are 63% (R$2,524), which in addition to other fees, raised the price of the PlayStation 4 to R$3,999. Stanley also stated that Sony is in discussions with Brazilian officials to reduce the import taxes and fees, and will try to begin locally producing the PlayStation 4 to reduce the price, as it did with the PlayStation 3.
After Sony’s E3 2013 press conference, IGN responded positively to Sony’s attitude towards indie developers and trading games, stating they thought “most gamers would agree” that “if you care about games like [Sony] do, you’ll buy a PlayStation 4.” The PlayStation 4’s removable and upgradable hard drive also drew praise from IGN, with Scott Lowe commenting that the decision gave the PS4 “another advantage” over the Xbox One, which has an inaccessible HDD.
GameSpot also states that PlayStation 4 is “the gamer’s choice for next-generation”, citing the price, the lack of restrictive digital rights management, and most importantly, Sony’s efforts to “acknowledge its consumers” and “respect its audience” as major factors. GameSpot editor Tom McShea wrote that “by saying no to the used game restrictions and always-online that Microsoft is so happily implementing on the Xbox One, Sony has elevated the PlayStation 4 as the console to grab this holiday season.”