Sony announced the new PS4 this week, and here at Ars we calculated the size of its DualShock 4 touchpad, reported on its horsepower, found out whether it will block used games, and we even learned that Jimmy Fallon is pretty special. So, as the PS4 approaches, it’s fair to say the new console is under our editors' microscopes, but also those of our readers.
What kind of impact is the Playstation 4 going to have on console, social, mobile, and PC gaming? The console won't be arriving until the holidays, but in the meantime, the confirmed details give us lots to speculate about. Ars OpenForum readers are discussing these details in the thread “The Next Generation: Playstation 4 and XBox Next.”
About that processing power
The Playstation 4 is going to feature eight cores, a “highly enhanced CPU,” GDDR5, among other new upgrades (full list in our report).
Matrices is not particularly impressed: “What is it that can actually be expected from this memory speed and size specification? Because based on what we know of the rest of the hardware—namely, that the GPU is pretty anemic on its own terms—there will be plenty of hardware bottlenecks long before those memory specs are even relevant when it comes to rendering power.”
Members in the thread have speculated what all this hardware will mean for the cost of the console.Wwen says, “it needs to be $400 or lower. The gaming industry doesn't exist outside the rest of the economy, which is mostly down around the world…I expect this generation’s life span to be the norm for the next as well, but in my opinion, the library of games is going to make more of a difference than extra radical shaders or polycounts or bifuricated motion blur with multithreaded steam valves or whatever those game makers are into today.”
When it comes to the cost speculation, Throatwobbler Mangrove also joins in and draws some comparisons to Nintendo’s newly released Wii U, a next-gen console that many OpenForum members feel is underpowered: “Again though, rumours (cough) are that Nintendo is not making a profit on the WiiU. Sure the controller is an expense, but it's only 1 resistive-touch screen with the processing done at the WiiU. The anemic hardware specs, and Nintendo is still selling it at a loss at ~$300? So how in the heck the PS4 cost will be reasonable without Sony taking a bath (when they're already pretty wet) is just beyond me.”
How will social play out?
The new social elements of the PS4 have been covered in some of our previous reports, but OpenForum member Draxlith has some thoughts about them: “How come no one mentioned the "watch friends' playing" bit yet? I think that's one of the coolest bits. For those that didn't catch it, you can invite friends to watch you playing, and can even pass control to them all via PSN. That's nuts, and yes, gimmicky, but friggin cool. They also said it has built in support for uStream to stream gameplay, if you're into that.”
HappyBunny agrees: “I think the video sharing and live streaming stuff is going to be a big deal. Streaming gameplay or sharing videos of games is becoming pretty popular, and having that integrated as a core system feature is going to be really nice.”
Wwen adds that part of the appeal of the social features is not just the ability to watch others’ gameplay, but also to record. “I thought it was interesting, because I watch a lot of Lets Play while playing Skyrim or something. IIRC, it currently takes some expensive kit to record gameplay from consoles for an LP. Unless you're set on becoming an LP Superstar (Mortus?), not many do that. Cam LPs are awful. That's a niche category of people though.”
Draxlith makes and interesting prediction about the impact social will have on gaming and Internet buzz: “No, not because you or I are going to go 'I can share videos? Sold!', but because from launch day (assuming it works as advertised), YouTube and Facebook will be flooded with PS4 videos and screens. Let's Plays, Walkthroughs, and so on will all come out first and more often on PS4, meaning that if you were to Google a multiplatform game, you are likely going to see it running on a PS4 because every PS4 owner could be uploading their videos. This is downright genius from a standpoint of all the free marketing they are going to get out of this.”
And then there’s the Xbox
Sony’s first to bat in announcing its next generation console this year, but Microsoft has said it will announce its XBox successor in April. The OpenForum members provide some analysis about what may happen as Microsoft gets closer to the big reveal on its own console.
TheDoomsdayMonster says, “Man...I would pay to be a fly on the wall of the hastily assembled meeting at Microsoft. The PS4 is going to have (assuming that the Durango leaked specs are correct) double the ROP's, 50 percent greater GPU power (6 extra compute units), and more bandwidth than Durango; I can see the jaws on the floor from Microsofts engineers at this very moment.”
Deviation is focused on game selection: “The vast majority of the games I purchased for my Xbox 360 have been third-party games. If the third-party titles are pretty much guaranteed to never look or perform better on Microsoft's hardware this generation, it comes down to the exclusive content. With Sony in a better position this time around and with Microsoft just not having much in the way of first party content (what do they have past Halo, Forza, and the deal for Gears of War?) I might skip the next Xbox entirely. That's also one of the reasons I'm so excited about the improved controller.”
What’s your analysis?
What about you? What are you thinking about the gaming landscape now that some of the details about PS4 are public? Register for an account to participate in the discussion, or share your thoughts in the comments below.