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Here’s what we expect from Sony’s Wednesday event

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Sony will announce the PlayStation 4 home console tomorrow. If it doesn’t happen, I give my editors permission to beat me senseless with a first-gen PlayStation 3. Chances are they won’t have the pleasure of doing that because all clues point to a new system (though I’m sure they’d welcome the opportunity.)

At this point, Sony has made too much noise over whatever’s going on to reveal anything less than a new console. In fact, it will be a bigger surprise if Sony doesn’t announce a new PlayStation (which goes by the current codename “Orbis.”)

Sony must now unveil the PlayStation 4 while holding over enough information to have something worthwhile to give gamers for the Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3). The expo is an annual games industry trade show held in Los Angeles every June. The biggest names in the business often make their most important announcements during E3. Sony really just wants to get a jump ahead of rival Microsoft.

What we will see

The console

Sony will debut its next-generation console tomorrow. We’ll see what the system itself looks like on that day. If Sony follows its current naming convention, it will name the new system the PlayStation 4.

Information on multiple versions and basic specs for each

If current-generation trends are anything to go by, Sony will release more than one configuration of the PS4. We can expect at least two versions, maybe more. Each model will come with a different hard drive capacity across multiple pricing tiers.

Release window

Having a release window at this event is important. It’s the signal for gamers to start saving their money, and it gives them a something to look forward to. It also puts Microsoft at a slight competitive disadvantage because now Sony has a new console and approximate release month. Sony is probably not ready to provide a specific release date. It’s too early, and the company has to reserve some important details for E3. Sony may also want to hold back a bit and see what Microsoft does.

PlayStation 4 controller prototoype

The controller

According to rumors, the PS4 will have a totally reworked controller. The photo above is allegedly a prototype, and it has reportedly been confirmed as such by multiple sources at various websites. If real, it has a touch panel and a light on the top that appears to give the controller PlayStation Move functionality. Sony will probably detail the controller along with a few early gameplay demos highlighting its new features.

Launch window for first-party games

Gamers want to see games. Sony doesn’t have to turn this into an E3-sized showcase, but it has to give us something. The company wants to display the graphical power of the system and the new controller’s functionality. It also wants fans to see that there is something on the way in terms of software.

The Last Gaurdian

Above: Sony announced The Last Guardian in 2009. The game is still in development.

Media Molecule, the maker of LittleBigPlanet, is teasing an unnamed game on its website. Two employees at Motorstorm developer Evolution Studios recently Tweeted something about the event, and game designer Fumito Ueda recently confirmed that The Last Guardian is still in development. The curious timing of these is a fair enough hint that they’re related to the new console.

Online plans and features

Sony will probably give a general overview of online plans and services for the PlayStation 4. Expect talk about the PlayStation Network (PSN) and any added functionality. Regardless, this event is about the PlayStation 4, so don’t expect extensive details about online capabilities.

What we won’t see

Price

I’m counting on Sony saving this for E3. The company wants to keep some of those important details secret until June. It may even use the reaction and overall hype to gauge consumer interest as it decides a price point. I don’t know if that’s a common strategy, but Nintendo did something similar with the 3DS.

Specific release date

Sony will probably keep this for later in the year, too. Again, it will likely be held over for E3. Microsoft may reveal the successor to the Xbox 360 and may pin a release date on the console. Being out in time for the holiday season is a huge advantage for either console maker, and being first to market is always a plus.

Third-party games

Any third-party game announcements will probably be under wraps until later this year. Wednesday will be all about Sony. This will also make some room for those games to grab some attention during E3. Don’t expect third-party games this week. This is just an educated guess based on past press conferences.

The next generation of consoles

Nintendo started a new console generation with the Wii U, but Sony’s PlayStation 4 is arguably our first glimpse into the true power of next-gen technology. It wouldn’t be wise to give Microsoft a head start this generation, so Sony is moving first. Previously, the Xbox 360 had a full year to plant itself in the console space; Sony can’t give its rival that advantage this time around.


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