PlayStation 4 will please hardcore gamers - but is that enough?

New console may struggle in a changing market

In an era of super-smart smartphones and tablets that are meant to appeal to everyone, Sony pitched its new PlayStation 4 to serious gamers this week, hoping their enthusiasm will be enough to stem a decline that has left it looking like an also-ran in the fast-moving tech industry.

For around two hours, without actually displaying the new device or announcing a launch date or price, Sony used a much-hyped New York event to show-off the console’s capabilities: beefed-up graphics, a new controller, and a greater emphasis on social media and cloud-computing, which will allow players to download and share new games.

Like the devices currently on the market, the new machine – when it is eventually unveiled – will also function as an entertainment centre and allow users to stream movies. What is different is the power Sony said the PlayStation 4 is packing.

But the message, underscored by a series of presentations from games developers, seemed to be clear: this is for hardcore gamers who want to share clips of where they are in a particular game, or look on, virtually, as an accomplished player battles a crisply-rendered alien. For them, the new PlayStation offers a bundle of goodies, including a way to switch from playing a game on your TV to a mobile device without interruption.

The outstanding question is whether this narrow focus will revive the company’s fortunes. Traditional consoles have been challenged by the proliferation of devices like the iPhone and iPad, which have become a popular destination for so-called “casual” gamers. Think, for example, of Angry Birds or Fruit Ninja and their success in recent years.

Nintendo succeeded in a staking out new ground with its Wii console, which, when it was launched with its innovative motion-sensing features, offered new hope to the industry by appealing to families. It wasn’t just for serious gamers looking to prowl in an alien world but also for the fitness enthusiast and the family gathering, when everyone could take turns at tennis or boxing, waving the controller in mid-air.

The sales showed that the pitch worked. The Wii outstripped both the PlayStation 3 and the Microsoft’s Xbox 360. The latter two are neck and neck, both selling between 75-80 million units, while the Wii stands at around 100 million. For Sony, that’s a big change from the PlayStation 2, which remains the best-selling home console of all time.

But the Japanese company, from the little it told us on Wednesday night,  appears to be going in the opposite direction to Nintendo, which in recent months has struggled to push its new Wii U console as more of us switch to mobile devices. 

“What was missing from Sony was a discussion of anything that could’ve made it a more broadly appealing device... It needed way more than a falling back on graphics, eye candy and tech demos,” Darrell Etherington wrote on the Techcrunch website.

Industry watchers are now waiting to see what Microsoft pulls out of its hat. The software giant is working on an update to its Xbox 360, which will go head to head with the PlayStation 4. Another critical question is price: the PlayStation 3 struggled after Sony released it with what was widely seen as too high a price tag of up $600 (£390) in the US.

The rivals

PS4

The Playstation 4 will have a new controller, dubbed the DualShock 4, which looks a lot like the current version but comes with a new touchpad and a share button that allows gamers to involve their friends in games. The device will also allow users to build social-network style profiles, which the company’s network will use to make game recommendations.

Wii U

The newest version of the Nintendo Wii came with a ‘Gamepad’ controller, which is essentially a powerful tablet which doubles up as a controller. It can be used with the console, or on its own, thus allow gamers to play on the move

XBox 720

Microsoft hasn’t yet released the successor to its Xbox 360. Among the anticipated features are a beefed up version of the Xbox Kinect motion sensor, which allows hands-free gaming.

News
people

Harry Potter actor suffered 'severe flu-like symptoms' on a flight from London to Orlando

Arts and Entertainment
Legendary Star Wars filmmaker George Lucas
film
News
news
Arts and Entertainment
tv

First full-length look is finally here

PROMOTED VIDEO
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebooks
ebookPart of The Independent’s new eBook series The Great Composers
Arts and Entertainment
Frank Turner performing at 93 Feet East
musicReview: 93 Feet East, London
News
Toronto tops the charts across a range of indexes
news

World cities ranked in terms of safety, food security and 'liveability'

Extras
indybest
Voices
A mother and her child
voices
Voices
The veterans Mark Hayward, Hugh Thompson and Sean Staines (back) with Grayson Perry (front left) and Evgeny Lebedev
charity appealMaverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Gadgets & Tech

    Recruitment Genius: Senior .Net Application Developer

    £40000 - £60000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

    Recruitment Genius: .Net / SQL Developer

    £25000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A skilled .NET developer with e...

    Recruitment Genius: IT Technical Support Engineer - PC/Mac

    £25000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This IT support company are cur...

    Ashdown Group: IT Support Analyst - London - £43,000

    £35000 - £43000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Senior IT Support Analyst...

    Day In a Page

    Isis hostage crisis: The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power

    Isis hostage crisis

    The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power, says Robert Fisk
    Missing salvage expert who found $50m of sunken treasure before disappearing, tracked down at last

    The runaway buccaneers and the ship full of gold

    Salvage expert Tommy Thompson found sunken treasure worth millions. Then he vanished... until now
    Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

    Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

    Maverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
    Assisted Dying Bill: I want to be able to decide about my own death - I want to have control of my life

    Assisted Dying Bill: 'I want control of my life'

    This week the Assisted Dying Bill is debated in the Lords. Virginia Ironside, who has already made plans for her own self-deliverance, argues that it's time we allowed people a humane, compassionate death
    Move over, kale - cabbage is the new rising star

    Cabbage is king again

    Sophie Morris banishes thoughts of soggy school dinners and turns over a new leaf
    11 best winter skin treats

    Give your moisturiser a helping hand: 11 best winter skin treats

    Get an extra boost of nourishment from one of these hard-working products
    Paul Scholes column: The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him

    Paul Scholes column

    The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him
    Frank Warren column: No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans

    Frank Warren's Ringside

    No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans
    Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

    Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

    The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
    Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

    Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

    Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
    Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

    Homeless Veterans appeal

    MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
    Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

    Comedians share stories of depression

    The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
    Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

    Has The Archers lost the plot?

    A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
    English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

    14 office buildings added to protected lists

    Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
    Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

    Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

    Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee