5 positives and 5 concerns about the PlayStation 4 so far
By: Jeff Rivera
Sony came out looking confident, excited, and prepared for the next generation to begin. Lots of questions were answered, lots of questions remain to be answered, but one thing is for sure, Sony isn't stepping into the next generation with a half hearted attempt. With tons of never before seen features in console gaming, the PS4 looks to be Sony's most innovative and forward thinking console to date. Below are five things that I took away as positives from the PS4 event and five things that leave me with concerns that Sony still needs to address.
Positive 1 - The PlayStation 4 is Extremely Forward Thinking
Given Sony's recent financial woes and the Vita's current underwhelming performance, many thought that Sony would play things safe and not take too many risks with unproven ideas and features. During the PS4 unveiling, Sony showed many features that look to truly move the way gamers will interact and play together forward. The social integration, the sharing features, the way you can take over a friend's game over the Internet, and streaming features through USTREAM all look like very welcome additions to the console world, and they should elevate the PlayStation brand online.
Positive 2 - Sony Shows Confidence in their Franchises
While some might lament seeing Killzone and inFamous out there on stage before some newer IPs, it's important that Sony maintains confidence in their bigger franchises. Sony fans are the first that need to be excited, and based on on post-announcement buzz, the base was effectively rallied.
Positive 3 - They Directly Addressed Complaints About PS3 with PS4 Features
The PlayStation 3 had its fair share of quirks that really irked people. One of the most regularly cited issue with the PS3 was the downloading times and process for games, updates, and media. With Sony's solution of allowing you to do vastly improved background downloads, we'll all be happier. Sony also directly confronted complaints about online communication, which is probably what kept Sony from getting a strong foothold with Call of Duty fans this generation.
Positive 4 - Basic Move Functionality is Built Into the Controller
The Move never got going this generation, mostly because it was too expensive as a peripheral that had weak support from both 1st and 3rd parties. By building some Move functionality right into the PS4's controller, developers can count on everybody having basic Move functionality with every system sold. Support should go up significantly and at no added cost to the consumer.
Positive 5 - Sony ditches the Cell
Yes, it means an end to disc-based backwards compatibility, but the Cell chip was a disaster for the PS3. Originally it looked to be a powerhouse processor that would make the PS3 an attractive machine to develop for, but the opposite proved to be true when developers realized that the PS3 architecture was nowhere near as easy to work with as the Xbox 360. By moving to more standard parts, the PS4 will receive better ports, have better chances at being the lead platform, and will not see performance problems with major development tools
Concern 1 - How Many Features Will be there on Day One?
Maybe it's not the time to announce what features will be available for launch, but Sony was extremely coy about just how much of what we saw would be launching with the PlayStation 4. We know that many features are planned to roll out in waves, we just don't know how far apart those waves will hit. Here's hoping that Sony at least has robust communication and sharing options available on day one.
Concern 2 - How Long Will Legacy Support Live?
This is more of an issue with the PS3, but Sony has said that PSN games will not transfer over to the PS4. In order to continue playing these games and having access to them for download, you'll need to keep your PS3. If you planned on keeping your PS3, that's fine, but how long will Sony make the PS3's version of the PSN accessible. If you can't have a copy of everything you've purchased due to hard drive size, will you eventually have to decide what to keep and what to lose before Sony flips off the switch?
Concern 3 - The Controller Design Points to Old Conventions
Sony can be pretty stubborn at times, and their insistence to stick with the wonky placement of the analog sticks on the PlayStation 4 controller proves that they're not willing to admit that the current design has ergonomic issues. The left analog stick should have swapped places with the d-pad during the PS2 era. To see it still down below the d-pad for the PS4 is just aggravating. Hopefully this doesn't mean that Sony will stick with other old quirks, such as the Xross Media Bar.
Concern 4 - Odd Choices of Partners
I don't see anything wrong with USTREAM, but these days they're a little bit of a backwards choice with the rise of TwitchTV. A lot of pro and amateur streams are making Twitch their home, with USTREAM being a far less desirable service to use. It was also a bit of a bummer to not see a touted partnership with YouTube for the video sharing, which makes me think that Sony will be setting up a bit of a walled garden around their own social network. I guess Sony could always bring YouTube support into the fold later, but it's not all that likely.
Concern 5 - How Will Used Games be Handled?
Sony is being extremely tight-lipped on this issue, and in the last few days there have been somewhat conflicting accounts from Sony representatives about how used games will be handled with the PlayStation 4. Based on current whisperings, it seems as if second hand games could be subject to a paid validation or that they might not even work at all. I really hope that Sony isn't very heavy handed with used game sales, because many gamers rely on used games to fund their new game purchases.