Wishful Thinking: Predicting the PlayStation 4

GameSpot staff from around the globe sound off on their hopes and dreams for Sony's new console.

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Randolph Ramsay, Regional Site Manager, APAC

PlayStation 4 Go?

Whatever the next PlayStation ends up becoming, it's a certainty that Sony will give us various configurations to choose from. After all, it has a solid track record of offering different units at hardware launches, with the most recent example being the 3G and non-3G flavours of the PS Vita.

Ditching discs means a quick death to the industry-hated second-hand games business.

But what are the chances that Sony will go all PS Go on us and produce a PlayStation 4 model that doesn't have a Blu-ray (or any other disc) drive? Considering the PSP Go's poor sales performance, you'd probably say not likely. Then again, Sony's not exactly known for being a company that's quick to learn from its mistakes, as the PS Vita's sluggish sales probably suggest. But a PlayStation 4 with a hard drive only isn't that outlandish an idea, and there are several reasons why.

As a dedicated home unit, any PlayStation 4 will likely have a constant connection to the internet, making downloading games and updates a much easier user experience than with the portable Go. Hard drives are cheap and getting cheaper, making it economically attractive. Sony already has a (fairly) robust, battle-tested software-delivery system in the PSN. And consumers are getting increasingly used to having their games delivered to them digitally, certainly much more so than when the Go was first released. But there's another, much more important reason why Sony would want to ditch discs altogether.

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Ditching discs means a quick death to the much-hated (by the games industry) second-hand games business. You can't trade in a download, meaning that Sony--and any company publishing on its platforms--gets a guaranteed piece of every sale. An environment where no second-hand games exist, where developers and publishers get a slice every time someone buys their title, is game industry nirvana. And it's much easier to spin to consumers, as well: having a PlayStation 4 model that doesn't have a disc drive is a less nuclear, more indirect method of damaging the second-hand trade than having a machine with a disc drive that somehow prohibits the use of a recycled game.

So, will there be a PS4 Go? For Sony, it's certainly something that makes sense.

Follow Randy on Twitter: @randolphramsay

With the hours rapidly ticking down to Sony's New York event, rumour and speculation are running wild that the company is preparing to announce new console hardware. GameSpot's global editorial team weighed in on their thoughts on the expected features, games, and services that the next PlayStation may offer, and the reality of what's likely to be unveiled.

Jonathan Toyad, Staff Writer, GameSpot Asia

What's old becomes new with the PlayStation 4.

If I had to go all-out bonkers with my predictions, I'd say that its supposed codename, Orbis, will be used for the actual device. Given the trend of branding consoles with less-than-unique names, this is a huge stretch, especially since marketing a console is dependent on how relatable your device's name is. The PS4 controller will be exactly the same as the current DualShock 3, only with the ability to be split into two and used as independent motion controllers.

Sony hasn't always let customers play their old, physical games on its brand new systems

As far as software predictions go, Vivendi will team up with Naughty Dog, paving the way for a new, next-generation Crash Bandicoot title with touchscreen functions and PS Vita cross-platform goodness. Additionally, Square Enix will get out of its creative slump and make Final Fantasy Versus XIII a launch title for the PS4. Just to up the ante in bizarreness, how about a gritty reboot of Tomba!, one of the most underrated characters to be on a Sony gaming platform?

Of course, since we're living on planet Earth, and expectations are usually beyond the reality we're given, the PlayStation 4 will unimaginatively be called that: the PlayStation 4, complete with the 2002 Spider-Man movie title font for its name. Used games will still be playable, but will require a surcharge to activate.

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The usual franchise culprits will be announced: a new Uncharted, a new Killzone, more teasing of The Last Guardian, and a new Infamous. Sweet Jesus, the latter announcement would make my day. Other potential surprises include Metal Gear Solid 5/Phantom Pain/whatever Kojima Productions is working on to be a PS4 exclusive. For a year. As much as the Metal Gear Solid brand is synonymous with the PlayStation, Konami still needs to make money.

I also hope that Sony makes the PS4 backwards compatible with PS3 titles, though I give it almost a year until it does so with a new hardware revision. Sony has inconsistently let its loyal customers play their old, physical games on their brand-spanking new systems, so I'm expecting them to make us pay for digital versions of the same damn thing they had eons ago.

Follow Jonathan on Twitter: @MrToffee

Guy Cocker, Editor, GameSpot UK

All flash, no substance at Sony's press conference.

A lot has changed in the eight years since the PlayStation 3 was announced in 2005. Back then, Sony's console was unveiled on the same day as its competitor's, Microsoft's Xbox 360, during E3. This week, Sony looks set to divulge details on the PlayStation 4, with no idea of when Microsoft will announce its own next-gen console, and it will do so on its own, without the biggest games show in the world as a platform.

Sony's focus will be games, apps and entertainment, not specifications.

This is likely to significantly change the format of the new console's introduction. I expect that Sony's focus will be on games, entertainment, and applications, rather than technology and specifications. Sony will undoubtedly attempt to dazzle us with the very best PlayStation developers, franchises, and partners, but I expect we'll come away knowing very little about the machine itself.

Why is this? Well, part of it is just down to modern marketing tactics; thanks to Apple, product launches are more about promoting social experiences and lifestyle benefits than they are about processor speeds. Sony will also want to make sure that the public goes away with a positive impression of its latest console, which means that it's unlikely to offer details on some of the more contentious issues making the rounds at the moment, such as whether or not the device will support backwards compatibility, games being locked to consoles or requiring always-on internet access, or blocking used games.

But the main reason I don't expect to learn much about the PS4 itself is because both Sony and Microsoft will no doubt spend 2013 trying to second guess each other until either of their new consoles launch. They will both be tweaking things in the run up to release, including their consoles' hardware configurations, price, and exact release date.

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In short, this event will be all about convincing you of how amazing the PlayStation 4 will be, and I have no doubt that Sony will deliver in this respect. Expect stunning trailers, bombastic gameplay demos, and, this being Sony, some cute tech demos. I'm incredibly excited for Sony's show--I think it will kick start an incredible year that will be fascinating to watch unfold, and begin to enjoy when we finally get our hands on all this shiny new hardware.

Follow Guy on Twitter: @guycocker

Martin Gaston, News Editor, GameSpot UK

The PlayStation 4 needs to be a great user experience.

Whether we like it or not, gaming's transition into a service-led culture is happening so quickly that it could be travelling at the kind of warp speed that would melt the Enterprise. The next generation of games consoles is clearly going to be about more than just games, and while Sony of course needs to focus on cranking out its great exclusive titles, there are two even more vital battles it needs to get right.

Sony needs to properly understand its place in the world, and embrace all of the non-Sony things I've got sitting in my pockets

Over the past couple of years, Sony has done its best to erect its own walled-garden philosophy around its hardware, linking PlayStation 3, PS Vita, and even one of those PlayStation-certified mobile phones that you almost certainly do not have. But such a firm belief in the lure of this particular ecosystem is damaging to a company with products that simply aren't as desirable as they used to be. Few people are going out of their way to buy PlayStation Move-enabled software, not nearly enough people fancy a PS Vita, and the less said about the Xperia brand, the better. Sony needs to properly understand where it sits in the world now, and embrace all of the non-Sony things I've got sitting in my pockets and lying around my house.

I also feel that the gaming marketplace is homogenising further with each passing year, and there's simply not a first-party publisher in the world that can crank out enough exclusive software for that to be the sole trump card in choosing its primary next-gen system. What Sony needs most is a user experience that's effortless and pleasurable, rather than an outdated nightmare, plagued with system updates and a clumsy UI. That means no XMB, and absolutely nothing like those hideous bubbles on the PS Vita. Sony's next machine needs to be slick.

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The PlayStation 4 needs to have a world-class interface, great compatibility with my other non-Sony devices, and be an absolute joy to switch on and use. Someone at Sony must have worked out that the PlayStation 3 missed a trick there. Seeing as Microsoft will almost inevitably burden its new machine with a Windows 8-style interface that's unashamedly peppered with gaudy advertisements, this one is absolutely Sony's battle to lose. I think it will rise to the challenge.

Follow Martin on Twitter: @squidmania

Jess McDonell, Video Journalist, GameSpot AU

The PlayStation 4 needs to be innovative without alienating its audience.

Handhelds and the Wii U have brought out the desire for tactile interaction, like swiping the screen to launch a grenade.

With the start of the new console generation, it could be argued that the new PlayStation--and the next Xbox, for that matter--has something to prove. Unless you're a console fanatic who wouldn't be caught dead on a PC, chances are you've been holding out for the new generation to cover some of the technical and graphical leaps that PCs have been making on consoles over the past few years. The PS4 isn't just going to have to pull out the impressive figures in the specs department, though, as more and more gamers seem as if they are not satisfied with their platform just being functional; they also need it to be innovative.

Handheld consoles and the Wii U have brought out the desire for tactile interaction--you know, the bit where you swipe the screen to launch a grenade and what have you. I think it's likely that we'll see this integrated for the PS4, particularly given the leaked controller images that have recently surfaced.

What I'd like to see is backwards compatibility, though this could well be serviced by the ability to stream PS3 games, coupled with a strong software library at launch. On the same note, keeping up the system's history of great exclusive content would be a plus, though at this stage it's something that is to be expected. On top of that, I'd like to see the PS4 extend the options for digital purchases and play, though the double-edged sword here is the inevitable inclusion of requiring constant online connectivity. What I think we're likely to end up seeing is a console that adds enough innovation to be worthy of the "4" in its name, but not so much that it alienates gamers who are fans of the current console.

Follow Jess on Twitter: @JessMcDonell

Edmond Tran, Video Director, GameSpot AU

Let us play games however and whenever we want.

Games are the things that matter to me. Whatever Sony ends up announcing, I won't be satisfied unless I see some montages Last Guardian at that presentation. That said, I do want more ways to play and access my games. If the next PlayStation lets me buy all of my games digitally from the PSN Store, and play them on either my Vita or console without interruption to my progress, I'll be happy.

I hope the next PlayStation is a full-sized, solid oak lectern with a built-in touch surface…

At the very least, I'd hope for some higher-performing Remote Play functionality. Currently, the quality is low, the latency is high, and the games that utilise it are few and far between. I hope some of the big processor numbers they throw at us will allow for Remote Play capabilities to be on par, if not better than, what the Wii U does now. I like what Sony is doing with its Cross-Buy and Cloud Save features already, so I'm hoping that these ideas aren't too far-fetched.

More superficially, though? I'm looking forward to seeing the actual console design and boot-up screen. I loved the look of the original PlayStation 3. It was a sleek behemoth, and the string quartet that started tuning up as you turned the machine on made you feel like you were about to conduct an orchestra of grand, classy-as-hell video games.

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I hope the next PlayStation is a full-sized, solid oak lectern with a built-in touch surface that randomly prompts you to do things like play Bach's Toccata in D Minor, read the Declaration of Independence, or land the Mars Curiosity Rover every time you're about to launch into a video game. I mean, video games aren't for kids anymore. Can't handle the extreme grandioseness?! Go play some fuzzy-kitten gem-matching thing, you baby! Kaz Hirai and I will be over here, busy with progressing the development of the human race with Killzone 4.

Follow Edmond on Twitter: @Doorselfin

Zorine Te, Community Manager, GameSpot AU

Will Sony be showing us the future or a modified version of the present?

Sony has made the bold claim that it will show gamers the future at its much-hyped press conference. For some reason, I've always envisioned future technology encompassing holographic projections, reality warping, and online links to everything.

Will Sony's PlayStation 4 possess the capability to scan your entire lounge room and detect the owner's presence?

If the PlayStation 4 were to include a feature that switches the console on upon a person entering the zoned area, would that be so far-fetched? Imagine coming home, ready to get your game face on. Your linked smartphone pings straight to the console as you enter the wireless range within your residence. You sweep into the lounge room, toss your backpack onto the floor, and collapse onto your couch. The PlayStation 4 is already on, primed and ready for you to pick up where you left off. Adding commonly used technology to consoles is one way to cement its role in everyday life, and I think Sony will like to tack on to that.

Perhaps augmented reality will be part of the new focus. Will the PlayStation 4 possess the capability to scan your entire room and detect the owner's presence? Create a virtual replica of the player to integrate into the game world? An in-built camera to monitor the gaming habits of its user base, big brother style? While AR technology has been explored already, there is still plenty of untapped potential.

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I think the physical appearance of a console also plays a big part in its success. Though a levitating piece of hardware that serves as much decorative purpose as it does function would be pretty cool, the PS4 will probably not float in mid-air. If current technology trends are any indication, we'll probably see a sleek console with lots of shine. The minimalist style will carry on to its interface, redesigned to look more like the customisable home screen that smartphone users are accustomed to.

Claiming to show gamers the future is a hefty statement. I can only hope that Sony delivers and surprises us, bringing technology that impresses and is, above all, fun.

Follow Zorine on Twitter: @ztharli

Dan Chiappini, Editor, GameSpot AU

Don't fence me in.

Duck and cover, because I'm about to drop some PS4 wish-listing bombs all over this thing.

First up, system updates. PlayStation Plus does a good job of removing the frustration of firing up your console and games, only to be met with a mandatory, user-initiated software patch thanks to automated updates. I get it, Sony, you have to justify the subscription cost by gating off features, but the United Nations says background downloading is a basic human right. Make it available to all users on the PS4, not just those who are willing to shell out for a premium service.

Region locking? Don't even think about it.

Cross-game voice chat. The Xbox 360 has had it for years, and the PS4 should, too. I realise that the PS3 didn't get it because of memory limitations, but now's the chance to make things right. Social interaction (if you choose) is a huge part of the gaming experience. Give players the chance to communicate freely, regardless of what they're playing at the time.

Region locking? Don't even think about it. As a citizen of a country that is, at times, left waiting for games to be released locally, don't put in roadblocks that stop players from supporting you by buying your games. A single, global PlayStation Store with uniform pricing is probably still a pipedream, but hey, this is my list, and you're not my real dad.

You know what would be awesome? Creating new ways to reward loyal PlayStation supporters. Super idea, Dan, but how? I'm glad you asked, Dan. Personally, I'm not into chasing trophies, but what if the amount of time you dedicated to playing a game, either by hours clocked or in achievements earned, offered a scaling reward system? Completed every challenge and unlocked the platinum trophy? Here, have a juicy discount (or free) DLC to keep playing the game you love. Even better if Sony rewarded consistent purchasers with bonus PSN Store price cuts, such as when buying multiple games from a single publisher, or owning the original game when a sequel is released.

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Hold on to your butts, because it's about to get crazy in here. What if the PlayStation 4 was built around a 3D printer? All games could be distributed digitally, but users who want a physical version of their purchase for their collection could print off their own discs, cases, and manuals. The copies would only work on the device they were created on. No more rushing out to pick up your pre-order on launch day. Plus, if you really wanted that sweet collectors' edition figurine, you could buy and download blueprints from the PSN and print your own. No more sellers charging jacked-up eBay prices!

Feet back on Earth, the rational part of my mind says that Sony's next home console will probably further lock down PSN IDs to avoid account sharing. Given the rumoured architectural tech changes, it also seems unlikely that the PS4 will support backwards compatibility of disc-based PS3 games--here's hoping for a Gaikai-powered streaming back catalogue.

In my mind, Sony's event is likely to include an even split of next-gen sequels to games you already own, and a handful of new and exciting franchises. The safe money is on new LittleBigPlanet, MotorStorm, and Killzone games, as well as the obligatory EA and Ubisoft offerings that mark all new hardware, and help supplement the limited first-party software available at launch. What will be interesting to see is whether some of the big hitters, like Call of Duty, which ships in the holiday window, will appear exclusively on next-gen devices, or be split across current and future consoles. We don't have long to wait to find out.

Follow Dan on Twitter: @DanChiappini

What do you hope Sony's next home console will look like, cost and do? Leave your comments below, and be sure to keep it locked to GameSpot ahead of tomorrow's PlayStation event.

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