Gaming

Why not to expect the PlayStation 4 anytime soon

Andrew House, newly elected SCE president
Andrew House, newly elected SCE president
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Don’t expect the PlayStation 4 to be announced anytime soon – that’s the message that Andrew House, president of Sony Computer Entertainment, communicated in an interview with MCV.

Andrew House, newly elected SCE president
Andrew House, newly elected SCE president

When questioned about the arrival of a new PlayStation, House stated that the “right time” for a new console would only come if a “significant leap on the current experience” could be demonstrated.

“The right time to talk about new advances in hardware is when you can demonstrate a significant leap on the current experience, and something that is going to be attractive. That remains our philosophy. Beyond that we have nothing to say at this point.”

Sony has always stated that it would adhere rigidly to the PlayStation 3’s advertised 10-year life cycle. With this in mind we won’t see the PlayStation 4 until 2016.

House’s argument that a “significant leap” on current hardware is first needed is valid. Incremental upgrades to the PlayStation’s hardware would simply not be enough to make a new console “attractive”.

Arguably, we don’t necessarily need better hardware in the immediate future to enjoy a better gaming experience. We’ve reached a point at which hardware has become less relevant, instead software the main focus.

As seen with mobile, hardware restraints force software innovation. Process-intensive tasks can be outsourced to cloud servers, reducing what is required of internal hardware and ultimately device costs.

PlayStation 3 sales remain strong, affording another reason not to announce something new. It’s up to Sony to prioritise system software enhancements and auxiliary services over the next few years to remain fresh.

6 Comments

  1. Hmm, can’t agree. It would hardly be an incremental upgrade. The PS3 is extremely outdated hardware wise. Despite the focus being on software, there have not been any significant jumps forward in visuals or gameplay in years. Mostly thanks to the limitations of the current hardware set used by current consoles.

    The severe lack of RAM and Graphical performance in the PS3 and 360 alone has resulted in stagnation of the gaming market. Stagnation which has carried over to the PC in many cases in the form of terrible console ports, or games lacking what use to be mainstream features as development is more focussed on these outdated and limited platforms.

    The sooner the new consoles are released the quicker this stagnant market can climb its way up again in more than just visual quality, as new hardware allows for better development techniques, more realistic environments and far more complex gameplay mechanics.

    One also has to remember that current generation hardware is significantly faster and would eliminate any of these hardware constraints being mentioned. While the idea of outsourcing process work to cloud computing is a nice dream, it’s just a dream.
    The world simply does not have the use of widespread high speed internet that is 100% reliable, and yes there are services such as Onlive. But they’re extremely lacking and selling a console with limited hardware hoping that a streaming service will be sufficient is only asking for disaster. In fact it would be another way for companies to sell outdated ( and limited ) systems in the hopes that people would pay a monthly subscription to simply be able to play games.

    It also eliminates the ability to play Offline, something that many people will certainly not be happy about.

  2. Hmm, can’t agree. It would hardly be an incremental upgrade. The PS3 is extremely outdated hardware wise. Despite the focus being on software, there have not been any significant jumps forward in visuals or gameplay in years. Mostly thanks to the limitations of the current hardware set used by current consoles.

    The severe lack of RAM and Graphical performance in the PS3 and 360 alone has resulted in stagnation of the gaming market. Stagnation which has carried over to the PC in many cases in the form of terrible console ports, or games lacking what use to be mainstream features as development is more focussed on these outdated and limited platforms.

    The sooner the new consoles are released the quicker this stagnant market can climb its way up again in more than just visual quality, as new hardware allows for better development techniques, more realistic environments and far more complex gameplay mechanics.

    One also has to remember that current generation hardware is significantly faster and would eliminate any of these hardware constraints being mentioned. While the idea of outsourcing process work to cloud computing is a nice dream, it’s just a dream.
    The world simply does not have the use of widespread high speed internet that is 100% reliable, and yes there are services such as Onlive. But they’re extremely lacking and selling a console with limited hardware hoping that a streaming service will be sufficient is only asking for disaster. In fact it would be another way for companies to sell outdated ( and limited ) systems in the hopes that people would pay a monthly subscription to simply be able to play games.

    It also eliminates the ability to play Offline, something that many people will certainly not be happy about.

  3. Interesting points Al. What would be a realistic hardware upgrade to make a new console worthwhile? Am I right in saying that developers can only develop for the lowest common denominator as they’re mostly porting games across the three major gaming platforms, so hardware upgrades would need to come from every console for an improvement of gameplay in major titles? When do you expect consoles to release upgrades?

  4. Interesting points Al. What would be a realistic hardware upgrade to make a new console worthwhile? Am I right in saying that developers can only develop for the lowest common denominator as they’re mostly porting games across the three major gaming platforms, so hardware upgrades would need to come from every console for an improvement of gameplay in major titles? When do you expect consoles to release upgrades?

  5. That’s correct; it’s always the lowest common denominator that takes priority. Although the differences between the 360 and PS3 architectures have caused problems. The reliance of the PS3 on the Cell processor has caused nothing but woes it seems, while the 360 is more akin to the current AMD APU’s.
    Personally I expect at least a current iteration Direct X 11 GPU in the systems, which given the current increases in performance, with lower power consumption and heat output shouldn’t be that difficult.
    Both AMD and NVIDIA have great offerings on the desktop (and mobile platforms), although we can assume they’ll take a current or perhaps a last generation model and adapt it to suit the console as they have done previously.
    Proprietary hardware systems are only hurting the industry really, and yes they are needed to separate the companies’ products, they can hamper development. Recall the PS3 release, it wasn’t all that successful and the CELL architecture it uses is very hard to develop for. This is shown by the fact that many multi-platform games sometimes end up coming to the PS3 rather late; and that’s only when they develop for the consoles.
    The best course of action would be to have a similar architecture as current computers, allowing much easier cross-platform development. Easier said than done yes, but as shown before; games primarily developed on the PC such as Battlefield 3 and The Witcher 2 can then be ported to the consoles without suffering the same problems as the normal route of console-PC would bring, i.e. decreases in graphical fidelity, limited control options, user settings and gameplay depth.
    Considering consoles run at a paltry 30FPS and 720p usually, that can easily be achieved by many mid- high-end integrated solutions, so a current or last generation graphical processor would not only offer full HD gaming at 1080, but also allow much higher FPS, or if they still want to stay between 30-60FPS they are able to spend the extra resources on improved visuals, physics and more. This also greatly improves the longevity of the system while still allowing further improvements on the PC market for hardware and software without causing the current problems in the gaming industry.

  6. That’s correct; it’s always the lowest common denominator that takes priority. Although the differences between the 360 and PS3 architectures have caused problems. The reliance of the PS3 on the Cell processor has caused nothing but woes it seems, while the 360 is more akin to the current AMD APU’s.
    Personally I expect at least a current iteration Direct X 11 GPU in the systems, which given the current increases in performance, with lower power consumption and heat output shouldn’t be that difficult.
    Both AMD and NVIDIA have great offerings on the desktop (and mobile platforms), although we can assume they’ll take a current or perhaps a last generation model and adapt it to suit the console as they have done previously.
    Proprietary hardware systems are only hurting the industry really, and yes they are needed to separate the companies’ products, they can hamper development. Recall the PS3 release, it wasn’t all that successful and the CELL architecture it uses is very hard to develop for. This is shown by the fact that many multi-platform games sometimes end up coming to the PS3 rather late; and that’s only when they develop for the consoles.
    The best course of action would be to have a similar architecture as current computers, allowing much easier cross-platform development. Easier said than done yes, but as shown before; games primarily developed on the PC such as Battlefield 3 and The Witcher 2 can then be ported to the consoles without suffering the same problems as the normal route of console-PC would bring, i.e. decreases in graphical fidelity, limited control options, user settings and gameplay depth.
    Considering consoles run at a paltry 30FPS and 720p usually, that can easily be achieved by many mid- high-end integrated solutions, so a current or last generation graphical processor would not only offer full HD gaming at 1080, but also allow much higher FPS, or if they still want to stay between 30-60FPS they are able to spend the extra resources on improved visuals, physics and more. This also greatly improves the longevity of the system while still allowing further improvements on the PC market for hardware and software without causing the current problems in the gaming industry.

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Darren McCarra
Darren McCarra is co-editor of The Sociable. He has a keen interest in photography, all things mobile, and writing about technology and social media. You can follow him on Twitter, Facebook and Google+.