Yesterday, Sony introduced the world to its newest home video game console, the PlayStation 4. We’ve already shown you how the Internet reacted to the new games, the new controller, and its social features, but now let’s talk to some expert witnesses.
Overall, video game industry analysts seem pleased with PlayStation 4, although a few had some issues with how the Japanese publisher and developer introduced it.
“Sony is taking their next-generation platform in the proper direction,” EEDAR analyst Jesse Divnich told GamesBeat. “Judging by [yesterday's] presentation, Sony is putting a strong focus on game content and connectivity, which is the lifeblood of any platform.”
The other experts I spoke with echoed Dvnich’s take on the PlayStaiton 4, but IDC research manager Lewis Ward found it disappointing that Sony didn’t show the physical console.
“I think that the hardware is pretty impressive, but I wish I had seen the box itself,” Ward told GamesBeat. “Maybe I’m just old school in that I think the design characteristics matter.”
Wedbush analyst Michael Pachter agreed with Ward.
“I think form factor matters to people,” Pachter told GamesBeat after the Sony event. “People care about what the box looks like.”
But the box is just a box. In gaming, beauty is on the inside, and everyone agreed that the PlayStation 4 has the guts to push some fine-looking polygons.
Baird analyst Colin Sebastian thinks the new hardware, with its superpowered gaming capabilities, will drive interest among hardcore gamers.
“We think core gamers will be excited by the hardware upgrade,” said Sebastian. “Notably, Sony is abandoning its proprietary Cell chip solution [which it used on the PS3]. Overall we view the return to less proprietary technology as positive; as the PS4 will leverage the cost and performance improvements that the high-volume PC industry enables.”
PS4′s new PC-like architecture should streamline development, which should also keep costs down. It doesn’t separate the PS4 from any other console, but this aspect of its design will help it keep up with Steam and anything Microsoft unveils.
Speaking of Microsoft, Ward was quick to temper expectations for Sony’s new console based on the recent history of the Xbox 360.
“If Sony wants to regain its former glory in gaming, they’re going to have to convince [Xbox 360 gamers] to switch back over,” said Ward. “I did not see a compelling reason for Xbox 360 fans to do that.”
Sony introduced a lot of new features in the PlayStation 4. It has motion controls, cloud-streaming of games, and live video broadcasting through social networks, but these are all concepts that Microsoft could easily duplicate.
“I’m not sure that Sony convinced me that it has anything so [different] with the PS4 that [Microsoft would struggle] to respond to,” said Ward.
It all comes down to execution. If PlayStation 4 executes its features better than Microsoft does with the next Xbox, gamers will notice. More than 10 percent of Sony’s revenue comes from the PlayStation division, so the company has a lot on the line. It’s going to make an effort, but it needs to deliver on the promises it made today.
The good news for Sony is that it seems to have a clear vision for the future and most gamers and analysts are ready to give the PlayStation 4 a shot based on what it’s shown so far.