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Sony overloaded us with information about the PlayStation 4 video game console that it announced last night, but many questions still remain.
This morning the Japanese publisher of games and hardware trotted out (a very tired) Shuhei Yoshida, the president of Sony Worldwide Studios, to clear up some of those questions in a roundtable with journalists. We still don’t have all the answers, but we’re definitely beginning to see how Sony aims to innovate in the console world and avoid some of the mistakes it made with the PlayStation 3.
The discussion covered many different aspects of the PlayStation 4, but let’s start with the questions we were able to ask Yoshida.
GamesBeat: Will we see streaming company Gaikai’s cloud services on the PlayStation 3 as well? It should technically be able to run on any device.
Shuhei Yoshida: That’s the vision. That’s what [Gaikai CEO] David Perry said. In the future the ultimate goal is everything everywhere. … So when we say everywhere, like every device, including the smartphones, TVs … refrigerators [Laughs] … that’s our goal. But we have to phase services step-by-step.
GB: Following up on the PS4′s social capabilities, will we see things like microtransactions and free-to-play games that are so common in social gaming?
Yoshida: I totally expect many games to show up on PS4 that are free-to-play or will have microtransactions or subscriptions, many different kind of things that are happening on different devices. These things will just work. I’m a big fan of some of these games as well.
Now for other topics discussed during the roundtable:
Will downloadable PlayStation 3 PSN games work on the PS4?
Yoshida confirmed that the PS4 does not have hardware-based backward compatibility for both downloadable and disc-based P3 games. But he added, “Unless, somehow, some games work on emulation. The easiest thing technically would be to make PS1 games work on PS4 with emulation, but we are not talking about our emulation plans as yet.”
When it comes to transferring other PSN purchases to the PS4, Yoshida said, “We could do it if we choose to; we know who’s bought what. But we haven’t decided yet.”
Yoshida also mentioned cloud support as one way for enabling older titles on the PS4, but he wasn’t ready to announce anything yet.
GamesBeat: Is The Last Guardian still a PS3 title?
Yoshida: I’m not ready to talk about that … sorry. We’ve broken promises. we are waiting for the right to time reintroduce The Last Guardian. I’m not going to say anything beyond what [The Last Guardian lead designer Fumito] Ueda said.
GamesBeat: Will Gaikai streaming on the PlayStation Vita handheld work with all launch games?
Yoshida: I’d be heartbroken if it doesn’t on day one. … My expectation is we have to have all games work on PS Vita, unless it’s like a camera-only game.
GamesBeat: The PS4 announcement event felt a lot more Western than the PS3 launch. Is this a change of direction for Sony?
Yoshida: Who is the president? Andy [Andrew House, president of Sony Computer Entertainment] is not Japanese. I’m Japanese, but I spend a lot of time in the U.S. When you look at how SCE as a company is resourced, there are lots of hardware engineers in Japan, but outside of Japan, there are lots of software engineers resources, some R&D studios. Gaikai is here, so more and more development is done outside Japan.
GamesBeat: Any plans for PS Vita bundles with the PS4 in the future?
Yoshida: Personally, I’d like to see that … for some retailers create some nice bundles. But I think it’s way too early to talk about the final package, what’s in the box now, and much it costs.
GamesBeat: Is 3D still a focus for the PlayStation 4?
Yoshida: It’s not a focus, but it [PS4] does do it, and it does it better. So more games will run at 1080p and 60fps, so it’s an easier, better experience when you watch them on a 3D TV. … 3D was a big thing a couple years ago. We made it a big thing, because it was led by the consumer electronics side of Sony. … But now the consumer electronics side of Sony, all the company’s have shifted from 3DTV to something else. So, they’re not talking about it.
Why would we?
GamesBeat: Is the audience ready for a console with more social features rather than one in which the graphics are significantly better than the previous generation?
Yoshida: The simplest answer is we want both [types of consumers]. People like [Quantic Dream's] Davig Cage, for him the high performance is very important because what he wants to do is make the digital character like a human being, so you can fall in love, get scared, feel sorry for them. Depending on the developer, performance is very important. Really want to help realize that on PS4 as well.
And some consumers are really socially addicted like myself, for those people it’s really important to share what they’re doing. … So that’s a big focus.
Photo: Dean Takahashi/VentureBeat