With the complete set of pre-E3 press conferences now over, EA, Konami, Nintendo, and Ubisoft have all been in the limelight for their presentations yesterday (10 June), but it was just two names that were always going to have the attention of the world’s media – Sony and Microsoft, as their respective new games consoles outlined a lot more information.
At the forefront of this was the pricing of each product, with Sony (who are using their E3 stint primarily to reveal the physical console) announcing a retail price for the PlayStation 4 of $399 (£349, €399). Microsoft, meanwhile (in an inverse of Sony are focusing on the games of their system at E3 2013), will be offering the Xbox One for $499 (£429).
With the many features that Microsoft have announced that do not appear to be too consumer-friendly, it appears as though the cost of each console could be another key point in favour of their Japanese rivals. However, Sony’s Andrew House-led conference yesterday evening in Los Angeles (USA) really looked to rub in the sensible strategy of ‘don’t do what Microsoft are doing’, by confirming that the PS4 will ‘place no restrictions’ on the used games market, with discs able to be owned, traded, lent to friends, or sold privately with no ‘authentication fees’ for a new user.
It was also claimed after the press conference that the PS4 would not be ‘region-locked’, meaning that games and consoles from different parts of the world will be compatible with each other.
Amongst the other ‘features’ confirmed by Sony was the fact that the PlayStation 4 will not require any form of compulsory internet connection to operate, according to Sony Computer Entertainment president Jack Tretton, but one negative point against Sony’s launch was the announcement that unlike on the PS3, a ‘PlayStation Plus’ subscription will be needed to play online games (a separate feature from all other online media).
However, consumers are expected to not be as concerned about this issue, considering that Microsoft have been running subscription-based online gaming since 2002 (with the original Xbox console), and that the PS Plus is currently available on a cheaper monthly rate than Xbox Live (at $50 per year ($4.16/m) compared with $60 ($5/m)), while also including discounted download offers and free selected game ownership for the duration of a membership.
Speaking of his own company’s console rather than comparisons to rivals, though, House noted that the PS4 as a whole is: “…sleek and visually impactful wherever it is placed,” and: “…worthy of the PlayStation heritage.”
The console, when released, will feature a 500GB removable hard drive (with it being currently unclear on whether Microsoft will offer the same), ‘8-core AMD Jaguar x86-64 CPU’, a ‘single-chip custom processor’, and USB and HDMI support, amongst other technological features on the 2.8kg product (which aside from a parallelogram sideview looks oddly similar to the Xbox One in shape, texture, and colour). It will also be compatible with a ‘PlayStation Move’ camera, though unlike the new (and near-compulsory) Xbox Kinect this will be sold separately as an optional add-on.
Furthering their gaming options, Sony will launch ‘cloud-based gaming service’ Gaikai in the USA in 2014, offering a ‘catalogue of acclaimed PS3 games’, although it is unclear if this will mean the console is unable to have backwards-compatibility with discs. A further announcement confirmed that independent game developers will be able to ‘self-publish’ their games on the system.
Meanwhile, it was also confirmed that Sony Pictures Entertainment will be leading an in-house charge of video content supply, offering exclusive content for the PS4 and PlayStation Network in the near future, while streaming services Redbox Instant and Flixter will make their way to PS3, PS4, and PS Vita users in America ‘soon’.
While the PS4 (set to launch with a number of titles including Drive Club, inFAMOUS: Second Son, Killzone: Shadow Fall, and Knack) has currently put itself in a clear pole position for the eighth-generation console race, one area that they have not yet come across is a confirmed launch date, something which Microsoft did do (vaguely) by announcing that their system is set for a release in ‘November’.
With Sony likely to choose a similar time for their 2013, launch, however, the race appears to be well and truly on, although judging by House’s joy on-stage while announcing the PS4’s features (mainly those which should never have been a discussion point in the first place), one company already has a headstart based on public reaction. If you have several hours to kill, the press conferences from Sony and Microsoft in full can be seen below for comparison’s sake, while for short-term viewers, a couple of fun digs by Sony and a trailer for the newest edition of a PlayStation favourite franchise can also be viewed: