Friday, February 22, 2013

Sony exec talks PS app store, PS3 game portability, AMD chips, and more Sony clarifies that the PS3-games-on-PS4 issue hasn't been cleared up yet.

PS4's interface is heavy on social integration, and its network service will allow players to play for their friends in difficult parts of the game.
Sony revealed a few more choice details about its upcoming PlayStation 4 at a roundtable discussion with Shuhei Yoshida, president of Sony Worldwide Studios, that took place Thursday morning. Among Yoshida’s interesting tidbits were that Sony hasn’t decided whether downloaded PS3 games will be portable to the PS4, that 4K games are not in the cards for the system, and that he'd like to see a more expanded downloadable app store on PSN.
Immediately after Sony’s PS4 announcement, the press latched on to questions over whether Sony would allow games purchased through the PlayStation Network on PS3 to carry over to PS4, either through a direct transfer or through its Gaikai-powered cloud service (the company has already announced that PS3 discs will not work natively on the new system). At first Sony said no, and then seemed to say it didn’t know if such a thing would be possible. At the roundtable Ars attended, Yoshida stated that “we are working on service plans and haven’t decided.” It seems Sony knows there are feasible ways of achieving this kind of content transfer, but hasn’t yet decided if it’s a worthwhile pursuit.
 Sony briefly touched on a stereo camera, the PS4 Eye, right, that will work with the new console.
When questioned on the PS4's newly announced 3D stereo camera, the PS4 Eye, Yoshida wouldn't confirm whether the peripheral will be included in the box with the PS4 or not. He did note that face tracking will be “more robust” on the PS4, however, and that the Eye will be able to “use one camera for video streaming,” while still tracking players' movements for gameplay.
Yoshida also touched on 4K support for the PS4, notably mentioning that the console will not support games rendered at native 4K resolutions. The PS4 will be able to process and output 4K content like photos or digital video files to a 4K TV, but games rendered at those ultra-high resolutions are apparently still a generation beyond the PS4.
In the same vein, Sony appears to be leaving 3D behind with the PS4, as it did at this year's CES with its TVs. “A couple years ago, [stereoscopic 3D] was a big thing," Yoshida said. "We like what we can do on the PS3 with 3D, [but] all the companies have shifted focus from 3DTV to something else.”
Yoshida would not speak to Sony’s decision to go with AMD as the manufacturer of the internal processors for its next system, beyond platitudes. “AMD is great!” Yoshida said, before going on to express confidence that the company would be able to produce chips for the life of the PS4 (which, given the longevity of the PS3, could be quite a few years).
 Gaikai will allow customers to stream content, including games. Less importantly, it allows for "remote play" of a PS4 game on a PS Vita, which is all Sony was prepared to talk about.
Questions about streaming service Gaikai, and how many of its features would be available when the PS4 launches this holiday, went unanswered. Yoshida did say he expected that Remote Play capabilities between the PS4 and a Vita on the same wireless network will be working at launch. “I’ll be heartbroken if it doesn’t,” Yoshida said.
The PS4’s network will support several more complicated online services, such as the ability to stream one’s gameplay or reach through Internetspace and take control of a friend’s game. It's not yet clear whether those services will need a subscription or not. Yoshida wouldn't discuss whether the structure for PSN—where many basic services are free and bonus features come with a $50/year PlayStation Plus account—would be continued on the new system, or how services would be divided between free and paying users.
When asked if PS4 might ever take a more App Store-like approach to game distribution (with fewer hurdles and easier access for a wider array of developers), Yoshida said, “Personally, I’d like to see that happen… that’s the ultimate form of publishing. On the console side, PS3 and PS Vita still treat publishing like the disc based model,” he said, implying that he thinks this state of affairs could be improved.
Throughout its PS4 presentation, Sony emphasized how closely it worked with game developers and design studios in designing and engineering the console. According to a separate roundtable of developers, the new Dual Shock controller that was unveiled at the event may have been a particular point of contention.
“We had weekly, sometimes biweekly calls on specs, but also the controller,” said Herman Hulst, managing director of Guerilla Games, which is developing the upcoming Killzone Shadowfall. “Everybody gets to fight for something.” Matt Southern, the head of Evolution Studios which is creating Driveclub for the PS4, noted that the controller design debates had “so many diverse voices… each with the objective to get what they wanted from the controller.”


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