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NEW YORK CITY — As expected, Sony officially announced the PlayStation 4 today at a press conference.
It’s been more than six years since the launch of the PlayStation 3, and since then, the rise of mobile games, free-to-play online titles, and home-brewed success stories like Minecraft have fundamentally changed the shape of the gaming world. More than anything, Sony needs to prove tonight that it can still justify the need for an expensive home console.
While we didn’t see any specific hardware tonight, Sony made it’s vision of the PlayStation 4 clear: It’s the most socially-connected console ever, and its technical prowess removes many of the restrictions developers have had to deal with in current consoles. Most of all, there were a lot of games on display, which shows developers are jumping onto the PS4 with ease.
But we also know Microsoft isn’t taking this sitting down — we’ll likely hear more about its Xbox 360 successor in the next few months. One thing’s for sure, it’s going to be an exciting year for console gamers.
Here are the highlights from the event (you can also watch a replay of the livestream of the event here.):
Below, check out our full live blog of the PlayStation 4 event.
8:00 p.m.: “We believe PlayStation 4 proves we have more to offer than ever before,” said Sony Computer Entertainment Group CEO Andrew House, before he left the stage without giving us a glimpse of the freaking hardware. Shenanigans!
7:58 p.m.: Activision’s Eric Hirshberg came on stage to confirm that Bungie is bringing its next project, Destiny, to the PlayStation 4 (as well as the PS3). In a video, Bungie’s Jason Jones showed off some new footage from the game, and it looks about as glorious as you’d imagine. A few of the Bungie folks, including composer Martin O’Donnell, hit the stage looking like a bunch of badass Spartans.
7:53 p.m.: Blizzard’s Chris Metzen is up next to show his support for the PS4. “Blizzard and Sony have entered into a strategic partnership through which … we will take over the world,” he joked.
He revealed that Diablo III will be available on both the PlayStation 4 and the PS3. Blizzard has customized its controls to work better on a gamepad, and it should have a four-player co-op mode.
7:45 p.m.: We’re finally getting another close look at Ubisoft’s Watch Dogs, which looks just as badass as it did at E3 last year. It starts off with the main character hacking an ATM and taking a nice stroll down the street. He encounters a woman being mugged and so begins an elaborate chase sequence. After a brief shootout with the police, he then proceeds to hack a train and jump atop it.
7:34 p.m.: Square Enix CTO Yoshihisa Hashimoto is next up, showing off the new engine Luminous Studio. It’s the same next-gen Final Fantasy demo we saw months ago (but it still looks awesome).
Final Fantasy brand director Shinji Hashimoto also noted that we’ll learn more about the next title in the Final Fantasy series at this year’s Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) that takes place in Los Angeles in June. (Kind of strange that he appeared to tell us nothing.)
7:27 p.m.: Sony’s Andrew House confirmed almost every major third-party company will support the PS4. He introduced Capcom’s Yoshinoro Ono, who’s showing off a new engine codenamed Panta Rhei. Ono takes the opportunity to introduce a new Capcom property “Deep Down” (which is listed as a working title). It looks like a crazy high-resolution successor to Dragon’s Dogma.
7:22 p.m.: Media Molecule (LittleBigPlanet) creative director Mark Healey is the first to bring up PlayStation Move motion controller. His studio has developed a 3D sculpting game for the PS4 that can lead to some realistic-looking sculptures.
7:15 p.m.: Quantic Dream’s David Cage points out that its first game, Omikron, only features 350 polygons per character, Heavy Rain featured around 15,000, and the upcoming PS4 title Beyond will feature 30,000. He showed a brief demonstration of an old man’s face that looked incredibly detailed, thanks to new shader technology from the PS4.
7:10 p.m.: Braid’s Jonathon Blow briefly showed off his next title, The Witness. It’s an open-world game that offers three to four different puzzles from anywhere you stand, Blow boasted. From the little we saw, it looked bright and colorful with a variety of different puzzle types.
7:04 p.m.: Nate Fox from Sucker Punch, the creators of Infamous, briefly showed off its next title, Infamous: Second Son. It revolves around a group of superhuman young adults who wreak havoc in a security-focused society. (Fox didn’t shy away from tying the game’s world to our own security obsessions.)
6:57 p.m.: Next up is the founder of Evolution Studios, Ian Hetherington, who’s revealing the racing title Drive Club.
“Drive Club is a game to play in real clubs, asynchronously and real time against other clubs all around the world,” he said.
Hetherington said the studio is obsessively detailing the insides internals of real cars to deliver a flawless first-person experience. “We’ve gone borderline insane with real-world details,” he said.
A brief demo of someone entering a car was rendered painstakingly accurate. Portions of this presentation look like something out of the television show Top Gear, not a game console.
6:45 p.m.: Guerrilla Games’ cofounder just hit the stage to reveal the next Killzone title, Killzone: Shadow Fall. The demo centers on a shootout in a massive futuristic city, with a few Uncharted-esque set pieces for good measure. The graphics at this point look like they belong on a very powerful PC. But the jump from PS3 to PS4 certainly doesn’t match the massive difference between the PS2 and PS3.
After the demo ended, the person behind the controller simply clicked the “Share video” button to send his game footage online to a Facebook page.
6:40 p.m.: Notable developers are now discussing the potential of the PS4, and the social features around it, in a canned video.
6:35 p.m.: Perry confirmed that PlayStation 3 games won’t be supported by the PS4 natively, but he said they’ll be playable using Gaikai’s technology. Eventually, he says Sony wants to let you play older PS games on any device via streaming.
6:30 p.m.: David Perry, CEO of the game-streaming company Gaikai (purchased by Sony last year), hit the stage to detail how they will be a part of the PS4 experience. Thanks to Gaikai’s tech, you’ll be able to stream games to test them out from the PlayStation 4.
“Our vision is to create the first social gaming network with meaning,” Perry said.
“We believe so much in remote play, that it’s been built into the architecture of the PlayStation 4,” he said. The PS Vita is the key to Sony’s Remote Play strategy. He showed onstage how smoothly you can play the PS4′s Knack remotely using a Vita as a screen and controller (much like how the Wii U’s GamePad can also take some games off the living room television to make them a bit more portable).
“Our goal is to make every PlayStation 4 title playable on the Vita,” Perry said.
6:24 p.m.: Sony is focusing on immediacy with the PlayStation 4: You can now instantly pause and resume play by hitting the PlayStation button. It sports a dedicated core for social sharing and uploading game videos. You’ll also be able play games as they download (a pseudo-streaming function).
You’ll also be able to see the games your friends are playing and hop into their play sessions (Cerny said you could even take over their controls). He expects game footage uploads to become as common as screenshots. The PS4 will also focus on real-world friends this time around (though your existing PlayStation Network friends won’t be going anywhere).
The PS4′s prediction capabilities will eventually be able to figure out the next game you’re going to buy and preload it to your system. Mobile and tablet apps will continue the PlayStation 4 experience.
“As a developer and creator, certainly as a gamer, I’m thrilled by the potential of the PS4 to power new gaming experiences,” said Cerny.
6:21 p.m.: Cerny is showing off a new game that he’s directing, Knack, which sports graphics that look almost like a Pixar film. It also seems to be a great demo to show off the PS4′s capability to have plenty of objects onscreen at once.
6:18 p.m.: Cerny revealed the new PlayStation 4 controller, which features a share button, touchpad, and a much more streamlined design than the current DualShock controller.
6:11 p.m.: The mic is passed to Mark Cerny, the system architect for the PlayStation 4. He reveals that he started work on the console five years ago, in the early days of the PS3.
“It’s a platform by game creators for game creators, with deep features meant to support the ongoing evolution of gaming itself,” said Cerny. It’s powered by an x86 CPU, powerful graphics, a hard drive for local storage, and 8GB of high-end GDDR5 memory.
6:09 p.m.: House officially announced the PlayStation 4. “Expect worlds to come alive with greater fidelity and intensity than ever before; expect the best franchises to be even better,” he said while mentioning that the new platform will enable gamers to stay connected when away from their primary console.
6:04 p.m.: Andrew House, president and group chief executive of Sony Computer Entertainment, hit the stage to kick off the event. He’s touting the progress Sony has made so far with the PlayStation Network and the portable PlayStation Vita.
“Our vision for the future is consumer-centric, developer-inspired, and characterized by a commitment to play experiences,” he said.
6:00 p.m.: Everything’s starting on time. Sony briefly teased a new logo, and now we’re watching a video montage of past PlayStation titles. Getting a bit teary eyed from nostalgia. Also, lasers.
5:53 p.m.: We’re sitting next to two Argentinian reporters who are live streaming this entire event. Way to hog the Wi-Fi, guys!
5:36 p.m.: They’ve let everyone in, and we’re only four rows from the stage. You can feel the excitement in the air (and hear the out-of-towners complaining about NYC’s cold weather).