PlayStation 4 announced at Sony special event in New York

The Right Click
Screengrab of DualShock 4 controller with touchpad via livestream

The highly anticipated PlayStation 4 has finally been revealed, and it appears that the battle for supremacy in the next generation of consoles has really begun.

At an event in New York City today, Sony revealed that its next generation console would indeed be called the PlayStation 4, and that it will focus on the gamer experience, challenging the heavily "entertainment" centric experiences of the Xbox 360 and the Wii U.

Mark Cerny, director of the upcoming game Knack that was unveiled at today's event, explained the five pillars of Sony's strategy when creating a gamer-first console:

  • Simple: Cerny explained to the crowd that they made the PS4 'consumer-oriented,' easy to use and functional for both players and game designers.
  • Immediate: With improved hardware including the enhanced PC GPU, 8GB of unified memory and local storage HDD, Cerny said that the speed at which gamers can start playing has been greatly improved. This includes faster start-up time and less lag time between controls and actions on screen.
  • Social: When Sony said 'social,' they don't mean just a link with Facebook (although that will be included, too). The new PS4 takes careful consideration of how people play games socially, namely over-the-shoulder watching that typically happens in the living room. They've moved that experience online, allowing players to watch their friends play a game live, comment on their play, and even join in play or take over if they ask for help with a particularly tricky portion of gameplay.
    Players will also be able to upload videos of their gameplay to Facebook and share them with their PlayStation Network friends with a new feature that allows the player to capture their previous 10 seconds of gameplay as a short movie.
  • Integrated: Like the Wii U, the PS4 lets players take the game with them from the television screen and move it onto a portable one. Instead of the GamePad packaged with the system, Sony is making use of the sophisticated technology of the PS Vita, its handheld gaming system. Hints were also made at more information coming later this year on the PlayStation Cloud Services, which will likely allow gamers to make their gaming experience portable as well. There will also be integration with smartphone and tablet devices, although that appears to vary on a game-by-game basis.
  • Personalized: The redesigned PlayStation home screen will feature content related to your friends and the games you play, making it much more likely to contain news of interest to you.

It isn't all good news for Sony fans, however. Cerny said that the PS4 will not be backwards compatible with PS3 games, although there are plans related to the PlayStation Cloud in the works to make entire PlayStation libraries available for play — eventually.

There was also no confirmation on the 'always online' rumours that have been surfacing, which would make the used gaming market and sharing games with friends a thing of the past.

With the announcement of the PS4 coming so early in 2013, there's going to be lots to look forward to when Sony and all the companies developing their games take to the stage at the Electronic Entertainment Expo in June.

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