PS4 Will Not Be The Biggest Announcement At Playstation Meeting.
We are all ready. Our cores ache for the inevitable announcement of the PS4 on the 20th of February. We have a good idea of what to expect. Leaks have been frequent and in most cases similar, which suggests a certain degree of accuracy. Sony have been reticent on the matter, with not a single response to the rumours. This also augers well for the coming event. Leaked images of the prototype controller have hit the net to resounding positivity and the hype can get no louder. Although there are still many questions to be answered — and I doubt all of them will be answered this coming Wednesday — one thing is for certain: Sony are about to do something BIG.
I’m a playstation fan; always have been and always will be. Many would view that as naive but there’s a reason I can say that with certainty. Since Sony’s first foray into the console business they have always delivered in one way or another, whether it’s games, peripherals or services. Sony planted something deep inside the gamer in me and I can pin it to three distinct moments: The chimed boot up of the PS1, the sore thumbs posters and the menu music of Tomb Raider. Like everyone else, I’m eager to see what their next console brings to the table. We can expect better graphics, smoother frame rates, better AI and bigger, bolder gameplay. One only has to look at up coming games on the PS3 like The Last Of Us, Beyond: Two Souls and God Of War Ascension to inspire wild speculation.
But as strong as the gamer in me is, there is also a corporate me. That may not be of interest to a lot of gamers because most gamers are simply consumers. They anticipate the releases, buy the releases, play the releases and wait keenly for the next. I believe a gamer should take a moment to consider the fact that Sony are a company, a company that needs to make money in order to continue creating unique franchises and taking risks, because without that sound financial footing, we the gamer would suffer in the long run. It has been well documented that Sony are in financial difficulty, but we the gamer can take solace from the fact that Sony’s gaming division is one of their most successful divisions, and so it follows that their focus is going to be exactly where we would hope for the foreseeable future.
But what of the headline? Sony acquired ‘Gaikai’ [Definition: A large open space] on the 2nd of July 2012 for $380 million but since then little has been said about its implementation. Occasional articles popped up suggesting that this was Sony’s answer to full backward compatibility on the PS4, or even the PS3. I have no reason to doubt that this is the case — in fact I would be shocked if it wasn’t utilized in this way. But I believe that this is just the proverbial ‘tip of the iceberg’ and Gaikai is going to be bigger than any single console. Absorb that for a moment, put the PS4 announcement to one side, and consider the possibilities.
Some of you may already be ahead of me, some of you may be as excited at the prospect as I am, but many of you may not have fully embraced the potential because you relate to a sleek, black box that sits just below your HDTV. Data is not reliant upon hardware when it is piped directly into your homes. It is not restricted by a product, regardless of which product that may be. As I have already pointed out, most people are consumers and they will consume anything that is easily available, particularly if it entertains and is reasonably priced. New TV channels arrive on a regular basis and many people wait eagerly to see what fresh content they may bring. All it takes is a remote and the will to seek it out. From consoles to laptops, from phones to tablets, TV channels have spread digitally beyond the confines of traditional delivery points.
And so it will be with games. Gaikai or perhaps PSTV, will offer Sony a much broader alternative to the single console solution and more scope for building revenue. Just as TV channels have migrated, so will PS branded games. PS1, PS2, PS3, PSP games will be available through this channel and will require but two acquisition: A subscription fee and a controller. This channel will eventually be incorporated into all Bravia TVs and through licensing deals, to other TV manufacturers. The same applies to all internet connected devices that are not Sony branded. PS4 will be a great console with great content, but the the message ‘The future of Playstation’ is bigger than anyone can possibly imagine.