Barring some highly unlikely last-minute surprise from Microsoft, Sony will be the first to announce its next-generation hardware tomorrow evening at a New York City event. Though Sony has kept its mouth largely shut on the PlayStation 4, rumors and speculation have abounded.
Below is a roundup of everything we know--and everything we think we know--about the PlayStation 4.
In the past week, two new prototype images of the PS4 controller have emerged. Fans of familiarity will be happy to know the controller is similar in shape to the DualShock, a mainstay of the PlayStation brand since its inception.
What's different this time around? Both images show the controller is beefier than the existing PS3 DualShock and its analog sticks feature an outer rim. (We'll be honest, they kind of look like belly buttons. Sorry.) The images also shown an illuminated light on top that resembles those on PlayStation Move controllers. Might Move be built into the new pad? This would match up with a previous report stating Sony was eyeing to improve Move for the PS4.
What stands out the most is the rumored controller's new front-facing touchpad, the functionality of which has not yet been revealed. In addition, the Start and Select buttons--as well as the rumored "Share" button--are nowhere to be seen.
Lastly, the latest PS4 controller image shows a headphone jack and some sort of speaker functionality. Could voice chat for PS4 games be as simple as talking to your controller?
According to reports, games in development for the PS4 include a new title from Uncharted studio Naughty Dog, Killzone 4 from Guerrilla Games, Mafia III, something from Heavy Rain studio Quantic Dream, LittleBigPlanet 3, The Last Guardian, and possibly a new Call of Duty game, among others. If Sony is in fact announcing the PS4 during its briefing tomorrow evening, new software announcements would not be a stretch.
Specifications and Functionality
The latest speculation is that the PS4 will feature 8GB of system memory, 2.2GB of video memory, an AMD Bulldozer eight-core processor, and an AMD R10XX GPU. There's also believed to be a Blu-ray drive, four USB 3.0 ports, two Ethernet ports, and a 160GB hard drive. This is based on information reportedly accurate for development kits as of January 2013.
According to an unnamed Sony official speaking to Japanese newspaper Nikkei this month, specs will be important for the PS4, but won't be the system's selling point. This person said Sony will push the platform as a home entertainment "nerve center." More specifically, the source said Sony will focus on the PS4's ability to connect and share with mobile devices--widely perceived as competition to traditional gaming platforms.
The Wall Street Journal--accurate with its reports in the past--says the PS4 will be backwards compatible, allowing gamers to stream PlayStation 3 titles. This may be achieved through technology from streaming service Gaikai, which Sony spent big money to acquire last year.
In addition, the newspaper last night reported that the PS4 may allow for cross-platform play between smartphones and other mobile devices. This would not be an entirely novel idea for Sony, as Wipeout 2048 for PlayStation Vita allows gamers to compete in online races against Wipeout HD players on PlayStation 3.
The PS4 also will reportedly feature beefed up social networking features, allowing players to share their achievements with friends on Facebook and Twitter. If text is not enough, the new platform is also believed to offer a direct-to-YouTube video uploading option.
The Used Games Question
Sony has patented technology to stamp out used games and rumors of the PS4 blocking second-hand titles has been floating around for almost a year. It's important to note that just because Sony has a patent on such a technology, it does not mean the company will actually use it. In addition, the analyst consensus is that the PS4--and the Xbox 720 for that matter--will not block used games.
Market-leading retailer GameStop said this month it will be able to successfully sell any future console--even one that blocks used games. In the end, however, it's up to Sony. We'll know soon.
$400+, according to Japanese and United Kingdom newspaper reports, the latter of which suggests Sony will not announce a price point during its briefing tomorrow evening. Instead, the company is reportedly waiting for Microsoft to reveal the Xbox 720 before deciding on a price. For reference, the PS3 launched in North America in 2006 at a $600 price point.
Sony shelled out $380 million for the streaming game company last year, saying it intends to use the acquisition to establish a new cloud service combining Gaikai's resources with its own, but it is unclear exactly what that means. It could be for the PS4's rumored streaming option for PS3 titles, or something entirely different.
The PS4 is widely expected to be available at retailers in the last quarter of the year to capitalize on the holiday shopping season. This would hardly be a surprise, as Sony shipped the original PlayStation, the PlayStation 2, and the PlayStation 3 during the September-November season in their respective launch years.
Check back with GameSpot tomorrow evening at 6 p.m. for our extended coverage of the PlayStation Meeting.