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Next week is Sony's Playstation Meeting and it is expected to be the biggest one yet with the announcement of the successor to the Playstation 3. Sony themselves have said this is the showing of the future Playstation and here is what some of our staff writers expect from the event along with their predictions on what they might unveil.
On February 20th we are going to 'See the Future' of the Playstation according to Sony. Other than that we don't know anything else about the event. Judging from the fact that Sony are flying game journalists fom around the world to this event we can assume it's something more than just a new Move game or a Vita Slim. So what should be expected from the Playstation Meeting 2013?
Of course the new Playstation seems very likely to be announced at the event and is what everyone has been waiting for. How much we will find out we can only speculate, but I think we will get the name at the very least. But what will it be called? Playstation 4 or just Playstation are the two options I think we have here. I can't imagine them adding a word like Orbis to the name like the Vita as that didn't work and Sony definitely have an attachment to numbers more than any other company, so PS4 is the safe bet. However don't be surprised if they take a page from Apple's book and just call it Playstation to keep it nice and simple.
Rumors about the controller have been rife for a while now and I believe if we do get a glimpse at the console they have to show off the new one. I expect a modified dual shock to be what they present, which is nothing too drastic compared to the boomerang originally announced for PS3. People like the controller and it is one of the most recognisable features of the Playstation, so I doubt they will want to tinker with it too much. Just please fix the shoulder buttons. I can't imagine price or release dates will be mentioned at all with a predicted announcement at this time. These things come later on after the spotlight of showing the console has passed. We could perhaps get a vague date for the year it is coming in either 2013 or 2014 but outside of that don't start saving your money for a specific date just yet. Specifications also won't be mentioned at this time.
The leaked photo above is almost certainly the new controller for the next Playstation albeit in early development form and the first thing that stands out is what seems to be a touch pad in the middle. This is very interesting as it could really affect the way we play regular games using a controller instead of using an extra peripheral like the Move. I'm neither for or against this really, until I have seen how its integrated into games it is hard to have an opinion. The design of the actual controller itself is also bound to change slightly so I would say the analogue sticks look odd but they will be different by the time we get our hands on the thing. Overall impressions; looks like a modified dual shock which is what I expected. Nothing that will deter me or make we want to buy one either way just yet.
In terms of games we will probably see a few images of first party developers names working on games for the console such as Sucker Punch, Naughty Dog, and perhaps even some franchises might be teased for a return such as Gran Turismo. I don't expect actual games to be announced and footage of the games surely won't be shown this soon. Expect all that great stuff later at E3. Overall I don't think that much will be shown at all at this event. The main purpose will surely be just to announce the new console, and right now that is all Sony has to do to get people talking. They can save many of the specifics for a later date to steal the thunder from other companies in the future. On February 20th the whole of the gaming media will be solely looking at Sony. They had better take advantage of the spotlight.
It seems strange that Sony is announcing a date before Microsoft when taking into account what they said previously regarding Microsoft announcing their console first. This of course does not mean that they will officially announce the PS4, but this is more than likely considering they do not want to get left behind in the next console generation like they did in this one. I believe we are going to see a "prototype" of some sort with regards to the game's physical design because consoles have the tendency to change rapidly in their design depending upon the feedback from the community. Speaking of outcries from the community, the rumor that the controller will feature some sort of "touch pad" as opposed to the start, select, and PS button has certain fans enraged. To me this won't be that big of a deal if the Dualshock 3 isn't completely revamped to match its, shall we say, competition. The controller has largely been the same design since 1994 and is essentially the system's calling card to the Playstation community. Plus, we all know what happened to the boomerang controller all those years ago.
As for the name, the recent website URL for Quantic Dream's next game "SingularityPS4.com" may have already given it away. Historically this is how Quantic Dream registers its URLs. They include the game's name and system name after it. While Quantic Dream is not owned by Sony, they might as well be and believing they have information regarding the next-generation console is not too farfetched. Plus, knowing how well the Vita sold may exhibit that leaving the numerical order for more obscure titles could lead to confusion. I also don't believe that Sony will botch the price as they did before and adopt a more resonable one.
Maybe this build up for Sony's next console could also explain the disregard for their handheld because it has some form of functionality with the new system. We are not quite sure what that will be yet, but it better be world-altering or the Vita still won't sell for balls. Also Sony, don't lead with a price-tag that would make even Blizzard blush, because that may have had something to do with your unsuccess. Ultimately, this is Sony's time to redeem themselves on the many fronts I have mentioned above and hopefully they won't disappoint.
Sony has a lot of catching up to do, especially when Microsoft is killing it in the online department. But perhaps the biggest and most controversial idea surrounding both of these new machines, Microsoft's newest system (unannounced as of now) and the new Playstation, is the concept of blocking used games. However, I predict that this will not happen. Blocking used games would only alienate the consumer, and really only benefits developers, and no one else.
However, with the rumor first breaking that Sony's new console may have some sort of built-in disc blocker (something I suspect is basically just online passes for games), and a new rumor report coming out last week that claims the next Xbox will block all used games, this is one hell of a fired up rumor. However, I think we are at least a console generation away from that, where I predict the the generation after this one will be completely converted to digital distribution only. Blocking used games also just feels like too much of a hassle to even bother with at this point. Locking a game to just one system is flat out stupid because what happens if your console breaks down? What happens if you decide to inevitably purchase a new, upgraded version of this system two years down the road? Too many obstacle and road blocks mar this whole concept right now.
Putting the used games argument to bed, the next thing I predict Sony will do is announce some sort of “Playstation Plus Premium”. It may not be called this, but don't expect Sony to keep the PSN completely free this generation. Playstation Plus has worked well for them, offering up older games basically as free rentals, but if they want to even come close to competing with Microsoft in terms of having an actual working service, they need to start doing some real maintenance. I know this gets into a grey area that most people don't want to talk about, because hardcore defenders of Sony will tell you that their primary reason for sticking with Sony this past console generation was the fact that PSN was free.
Yet if Sony wants to continue to offer up a competitive service, they need to get with the times in 2013. Offering up party chat options, maintenance to servers could provide minimal lag problems, and perhaps even keeping the instant game library service would bring a very steep competition to Microsoft's Xbox Live. As a gamer who owns both systems, I don't mind paying $60 a year for Xbox Live (honestly with Amazon putting the 12 month cards on sale every year, I don't think I've ever paid that much for live), and I wouldn't mind having to shell out an equal amount of money for a service Sony provided if it could come close to even competing with Xbox Live at this point. One could argue the whole “ads” perspective of Xbox Live, but I see just as many ads on the PSN as I do Xbox Live, and that's free.
Thirdly, Sony needs a real heavy hitting line up of launch titles, including at least one truly great AAA title. My prediction? Uncharted 4. Considering the games have all seen two years between releases and the weird limbo we are currently in with franchises right now, I would be surprised to see a hint of a new Uncharted at their conference next week. Considering everything has been absent on that front, mostly due to Naughty Dog's new game, The Last of Us, and we do know that there are separate Uncharted teams, so it would not be surprising if something has been brewing in secret for some time. We already know that Kojima has two different Metal Gear Solid titles under way, Metal Gear Solid 5: The Phantom Pain and Metal Gear Solid: Ground Zeroes, so it would be a nice pipe dream to see one of those become a launch title as well. Perhaps Sony will roll out an AAA IP for launch? Who knows, but Sony has a real chance to capture an audience out of the gate.
Finally, I predict a $399 price point. Sony really can't chance releasing a $600 console this time around, as it really slowed their growth this generation. With our struggling economy, these consoles really can't afford to be priced any higher than $399.
Whatever comes, one thing is certain: I am extremely excited for a new set of consoles. This prolonged, eight year console cycle is possibly coming to an end this fall. I'm interested more than anything to see just how big of a battleground it will become between Sony and Microsoft. We'll find out on February 20th, when Sony fires the first shots.