The PlayStation 4 is coming

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Sony called and they assembled.

Technology and video game journalists from around the world were in New York on Wednesday night (Feb. 20) for a press event at the Hammerstein Theatre in Manhattan’s Fashion District.

The company was coy about what they were going to announce, but the expectation among the assembled was that the next home-entertainment console was going to be announced.

And, sure enough, the PlayStation 4 was the star of the show.

Andrew House, president and group CEO of Sony Computer Entertainment, revealed the moniker for the devic—previously known by the code name Orbis—after a video retrospective that highlighted PlayStation’s nearly 20-year history.

The new console is high powered—lead system architect Mark Cerny called it “supercharged PC architecture”—with 8GB of memory. It will also have a hard drive for local storage, but the exact size of that hard drive was not mentioned. 

In fact, we don’t even know what the PS4 will look like. Cerny was happy to show off the new controller, the DualShock 4, which has the usual sticks and buttons along with a new touchpad, headphone jack, and light bar. But images of the system itself were completely absent from the presentation.

Pricing for the PS4 was another detail left out of the script. It will be available sometime during the vague “holiday 2013” period.

Cerny keyed on five concepts that went into the design of the PS4: immediate, integrated, personalized, simple, and social.

Immediate refers to the ability of the PS4 to suspend and resume games almost instantly, he said. A secondary chip will enable players to download content while playing something else. And smartphones, tablets, and PS Vita handhelds will extend some game experiences by integrating them with the PS4 ecosystem.

A “share” button on the controller will allow one-press uploads of video and screenshots to a user’s social networking sites. Communication with social networks will be possible while in-game, even to the point, said Cerny, where you can have a friend in another place play your game for you.

 Games teased at the event include Destiny (Bellevue’s Bungie), Driveclub (UK-based Evolution), Infamous: Second Son (Seattle’s Sucker Punch), Killzone: Shadow Fall (Amsterdam’s Guerrilla), Watch Dogs (Ubisoft Montreal), and The Witness (from Braid developer Jonathan Blow).

The graphics that were part of the demonstrations were astounding, from the water and smoke effects in Shadow Fall to the old man’s head that Quantic Dream’s David Cage showed off (which looked better than the CG characters in films like Avatar).

But what will make the PS4 a success will be in how game developers choose to use the power of the system to create different types of gaming experiences. Expect to hear more about that part of the story in the months to come.

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