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.

Sport
Luis Suarez and Lionel Messi during Barcelona training in August
footballPete Jenson co-ghost wrote Suarez’s autobiography and reveals how desperate he's been to return
News
newsMcKamey Manor says 'there is no escape until the tour is completed'
Voices
Hunted: A stag lies dead on Jura, where David Cameron holidays and has himself stalked deer
voicesThe Scotland I know is becoming a playground for the rich
News
people
PROMOTED VIDEO
Life and Style
ebooksA superb mix of recipes serving up the freshest of local produce in a delicious range of styles
Life and Style
ebooksFrom the lifespan of a slug to the distance to the Sun: answers to 500 questions from readers
Arts and Entertainment
Architect Frank Gehry is regarded by many as the most important architect of the modern era
arts + entsGehry has declared that 98 per cent of modern architecture is "s**t"
Money
Welcome to tinsel town: retailers such as Selfridges will be Santa's little helpers this Christmas, working hard to persuade shoppers to stock up on gifts
news
Arts and Entertainment
Soul singer Sam Smith cleared up at the Mobo awards this week
newsSam Smith’s Mobo triumph is just the latest example of a trend
News
Laurence Easeman and Russell Brand
people
Sport
Fans of Dulwich Hamlet FC at their ground Champion Hill
footballFans are rejecting the £2,000 season tickets, officious stewarding, and airline-stadium sponsorship
News
Shami Chakrabarti
people
Arts and Entertainment
Benedict Cumberbatch has refused to deny his involvement in the upcoming new Star Wars film
filmBenedict Cumberbatch reignites Star Wars 7 rumours
Sport
football
News
news
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

    Business Analyst - Surrey - Permanent - Up to £50k DOE

    £40000 - £50000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...

    ***ASP.NET Developer - Cheshire - £35k - Permanent***

    £30000 - £35000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...

    ***Solutions Architect*** - Brighton - £40k - Permanent

    £35000 - £40000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...

    Senior Software Engineer - C#, VB.Net, ASP.Net - Kingston, Sur

    £50000 - £60000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Senior Software Engineer - C#, VB.N...

    Day In a Page

    Wilko Johnson, now the bad news: musician splits with manager after police investigate assault claims

    Wilko Johnson, now the bad news

    Former Dr Feelgood splits with manager after police investigate assault claims
    Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands ahead of the US midterm elections

    Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands

    The Senator for Colorado is for gay rights, for abortion rights – and in the Republicans’ sights as they threaten to take control of the Senate next month
    New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

    New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

    Evidence found of contact between Easter Islanders and South America
    Cerys Matthews reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of Dylan Thomas

    Cerys Matthews on Dylan Thomas

    The singer reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of the famous Welsh poet
    DIY is not fun and we've finally realised this as a nation

    Homebase closures: 'DIY is not fun'

    Homebase has announced the closure of one in four of its stores. Nick Harding, who never did know his awl from his elbow, is glad to see the back of DIY
    The Battle of the Five Armies: Air New Zealand releases new Hobbit-inspired in-flight video

    Air New Zealand's wizard in-flight video

    The airline has released a new Hobbit-inspired clip dubbed "The most epic safety video ever made"
    Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month - but can you stomach the sweetness?

    Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month

    The combination of cinnamon, clove, nutmeg (and no actual pumpkin), now flavours everything from lattes to cream cheese in the US
    11 best sonic skincare brushes

    11 best sonic skincare brushes

    Forget the flannel - take skincare to the next level by using your favourite cleanser with a sonic facial brush
    Paul Scholes column: I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Phil Jones and Marcos Rojo

    Paul Scholes column

    I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Jones and Rojo
    Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

    Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

    While other sports are stalked by corruption, we are an easy target for the critics
    Jamie Roberts exclusive interview: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

    Jamie Roberts: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

    Wales centre says he’s not coming home but is looking to establish himself at Racing Métro
    How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?

    A crime that reveals London's dark heart

    How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?
    Meet 'Porridge' and 'Vampire': Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker

    Lost in translation: Western monikers

    Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker. Simon Usborne, who met a 'Porridge' and a 'Vampire' while in China, can see the problem
    Handy hacks that make life easier: New book reveals how to rid your inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone

    Handy hacks that make life easier

    New book reveals how to rid your email inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone with a loo-roll
    KidZania lets children try their hands at being a firefighter, doctor or factory worker for the day

    KidZania: It's a small world

    The new 'educational entertainment experience' in London's Shepherd's Bush will allow children to try out the jobs that are usually undertaken by adults, including firefighter, doctor or factory worker