Console wars return as Sony reveals powerful PlayStation 4 to take on Microsoft’s Xbox One

11 Jun 2013

At E3, consumer tech giant Sony unveiled a US$399 (€302) PlayStation 4 (PS4) that will go on sale this autumn. Sony revealed powerful hardware packaged in a sleek body along with a solid line-up of game titles, with 30 exclusive titles coming from SCE World Wide Studios.

Despite Sony revealing the capabilities of the PlayStation 4 in February, this was the first time anyone outside of Sony got a glimpse of the new machines, which look to be smaller, slimmer and less boxy than the rival Xbox One. They sport a slim blue light indicator along the side and come with a game controller that looks comfortable.

The PlayStation 4 features an eight-core x86-64 AMD Jaguar CPU and an enhanced GPU. It will have 8GB of GDDR5 memory, capable of 176GB/s bandwidth and further boosting graphics performance. The console will also have optical drive, contrary to much speculation, and will include a built-in HDD.

“We are proud to unveil today the most advanced gaming system ever created, PlayStation 4, which demonstrates everything PlayStation stands for – a relentless focus on the gamer, an inspired community of developers equipped with the most powerful technology, and the long-standing legacy to building worlds without boundaries through one-of-a-kind gaming experiences,” said Jack Tretton, president and CEO of SCEA.

“What’s equally exciting for us, however, is transforming the PlayStation ecosystem into a stronger, more vibrant destination that enables gamers to engage, share, play, and connect on their terms.”

CE World Wide Studios (SCE WWS) is developing more than 30 PS4 exclusive titles, 20 of them, including 12 new IPs, are planned to release within a year of the launch of the PS4 system. This demonstrates PlayStation’s focus on delivering original, creative content to gamers that will define next-generation gaming experiences.

SCE WWS president Shuhei Yoshida provided an update on PS4 exclusive titles, #DRIVECLUB, Killzone Shadow Fall, and KNAC, which will be available at launch, and inFAMOUS Second Son, available in the first quarter of 2014. He also unveiled SCEA’s next blockbuster title, The Order: 1886, from acclaimed studio Ready at Dawn.

SCEA vice-president of Developer and Publisher Relations Adam Boyes introduced a line-up of titles that will be making their console debut on the PS4 system, including: Transistor by Super Giant, Don’t Starve by Klei Entertainment, Mercenary Kings by Tribute Games, Octodad: Deadliest Catch by Young Horses, Secret Ponchos by SwitchBlade Monkeys, Outlast by Red Barrels, Oddworld: New N Tasty by Oddworld Inhabitants and Galak-Z by 17-bit. Boyes also unveiled blockbuster content from key publishing partners, including KINGDOM HEARTS III and FINAL FANTASY XV from SQUARE ENIX, Ubisoft Entertainment, Assassin’s Creed IV Black Flag and Watch_ Dogs, 2K Sports’s NBA 2K14, Bethesda Game Studios’ The Elder Scrolls Online, and the world exclusive unveil of Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment’s Mad Max.

Bungie was also on stage to introduce the world gameplay premiere of Destiny. SCEA announced a long-term exclusive partnership with Bungie and Activision that will ensure that the PS4 ecosystem evolves and grows with the incredible Destiny world.

Welcome to the era of cloud gaming

PlayStation 4

Sony also unveiled new details for PS Plus, built to bring games and gamers together and fuel the next generation of gaming on the PS4 system. With a single PS Plus membership, gamers will enjoy all of the program benefits across the PS4, PS3, and PS Vita systems.

PS Plus benefits include exclusive game discounts, cloud game saves, early access to beta programs and content, and access to the Instant Game Collection.

The Instant Game Collection, which provides PS Plus members immediate access to a library of games – including blockbuster hits, innovative indie games, and classic titles – will extend to gamers on the PS4 system along with online gameplay, ensuring that gamers always have a selection of games to discover and enjoy with other members of the PS Plus community.

PS Plus membership can be purchased through PlayStation Store and is available as a one-year membership for US$49.99, a three-month membership for US$17.99, and a new a one-month membership option for US$9.99.

Sony also announced that PlayStation’s cloud gaming services will be available in 2014 beginning in the United States.

The cloud gaming services will provide gamers on the PS4 and PS3 systems, followed by gamers on the PS Vita system, with immediate access to a catalogue of PS3 titles. These games will be streamed using Gaikai’s proprietary network technology to deliver fast and responsive gameplay.

PS Vita – more titles on the way

More than 85 additional titles are slated to launch for the PS Vita system by the end of 2013, expanding the current library of more than 125 PS Vita-dedicated games and more than 400 classic titles from the PSP and PS One Classics catalogues.

Featured titles mentioned at the press conference include Batman: Arkham Origins Blackgate, CounterSpy, Destiny of Spirits, Doki Doki Universe, Killzone: Mercenary and Tearaway. In addition, SCEA announced that God of War HD 1 and 2, Flower, and Dead Nation from SCE WWS, as well as Square Enix’s FINAL FANTASY X and X-2 and Telltale Game’s The Walking Dead are coming soon to the platform.

The Walking Dead on PS Vita will feature a new control scheme that gives players the option to use the dual analog sticks and buttons or touch controls unique to the platform.

To celebrate the title’s debut on PS Vita, Sony will offer a limited-edition bundle that includes a 3G/Wi-Fi PS Vita, the complete first season of The Walking Dead game series (including the newly announced Season One episode, 400 Days) and bonus content.

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years