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Opinion

PS4: The Morning After the Night Before

Anyone mentioned the bundled headset yet?

With a rare bit of spare time today it’s been entertaining to think back over last night’s PlayStation 4 presentation and take in some of the reaction from around ‘teh interwebz’ as that’s normally good for a laugh.

My own opinions of what we saw last night begin with the thought that it’s interesting that they came right out at the start and basically admitted that the PS Vita is getting a new hardware revision that will output to your TV. So pretty much like the recently unearthed patent that may or may not simply be for the PS Vita dev kit?

TFLOPS don’t matter except when they do

teraflops: noun; a measure of processing speed, consisting of a thousand billion (a one followed by twelve zeroes) floating-point operations a second. Sometimes abbreviated to TFLOPS to make it look more serious.
The PlayStation 4 hardware specs turned out to be exactly what we all expected following the various leaks that were accurate even down to the point nought four in the 1.84 TFLOPS figure for the GPU.

Of course that’s a crucial number for much of the willy-waving on the Internet over the last 12 hours or so. The PC gaming crowd were quick to point out that the Nvidia GeForce GTX 680 is around 3 TFLOPS and the new $1000 Titan from the same stable is 4.7 TFLOPS so the PS4 is out of date already.

It’s a pointless comparison of course, the PS4, despite the underlying architecture, isn’t trying to be a high-end PC.  It’s got to be affordable and practical for most households. If there is a useful TFLOPS comparison, it’s this one: the PS4′s GPU with 1.84 TFLOPS is much more powerful than the 0.4 TFLOPS RSX in the PS3.

By that single abstract measure the PS4 is 4.5 times more powerful than the PS3.

We know less about how the PS4′s CPU will compare to the PS3 performance-wise as they’re so very different. The 3.2GHz Cell BE in the PS3 had a single ‘full’ processing core and a handful of SPU assistants.

The speed that the 8-core x86-64 AMD “Jaguar” CPU in the PS4 runs at hasn’t been made public yet but it’s 8 ‘full’ cores will be more flexible and, more importantly, familiar to developers. Add in the unified memory and PlayStation gamers won’t be waiting so long for the next Elder Scrolls DLC.

Now with even more shock!

The new DualShock 4 looks good, but with “enhanced rumble”, the light bar, touchpad and headphone socket I do wonder about battery life as battery capacities aren’t growing at the rate technology needs.

Buried in the wall of text in the press release for the DualShock 4 and PS4 Eye is “Combined with the Mono Headset that will be bundled with PS4…” so everyone will have a headset from day one. If you’ve spent much time on Xbox LIVE you might not think that’s such a good thing but it is at least one less accessory to buy.


With a PS4, DS4, Eye and headset in the box that sticker price is rising. And shouldn't a stereo camera be called an Eye-Eye?
Personally, the technical side of the presentation was by far the most interesting. All the social stuff makes me feel anti-social and I really hope the PS4 can see beyond Facebook’s walled garden. The PS3 can upload to YouTube, let’s hope we don’t lose that.

As for all the pre-loading of games it thinks I might want, video sharing, etc., that all just makes me worry for the bandwidth and download limits on my broadband connection. And I’m lucky enough to have an above average broadband service so where does that leave the people on restrictive plans?

Is Shadow Fall a boast about Guerilla’s dynamic lighting?

The games and technology demos also left me cold. I don’t care that Killzone will now have even more pixels on screen in different shades of grey, orange and blue. I think a little bit of green got in there by mistake. And I certainly don’t care about being able to see which way the exquisitely rendered suede on the car seats is brushed.

The police weren’t popular with Ubisoft, who were encouraging you to shoot out their tyres or crash them into bollards while Sucker Punch suggest that, alternatively, you should just use your super power to kill them.

David Cage wants us to be impressed by the possibilities of a staring competition with a significantly aged Max Headroom in desperate need of a realistic hair shader and made a big thing about how the polygon counts of his characters are getting bigger with each game and hardware generation.

Media Molecule then immediately told us it’s not about the polygons, they’re a nightmare and invited us to vandalise each other’s clay sculptures before proposing that our dreams are to play rhythm-based music games using expensive plastic peripherals that mostly just sit on the shelf our PS Moves, forgetting that genre died 12 months ago.

Sony have got it right

I appreciate that some of that may sound crushingly negative but that’s likely just flippant sarcasm bubbling to the surface. For what it’s worth I think Sony have got it all right, including the decision not to show the console.

Some clearly came away disappointed having gone in with the wrong expectations. Most surprising of the various pieces I’ve read today was the one from The Guardian. I consider that their games and technology coverage is normally by some margin the best among the British papers.

Their reaction piece this morning PlayStation 4 launch: where was the console? in stark contrast to their reporting of the event itself seems almost as if it’s not to be taken seriously, so maybe I missed the joke. But if they did really expect “The event… to include the rollout at least of a box, and a price, and a date when you’d be able to get your hands on one” then they need to go back and study how these things work!

The majority of what I have read today, fanbois and the odd media blog aside, has been positive for Sony.  They’ve clearly established their aims with the new console and network architectures, stolen a march on Microsoft and can still make a big splash later in the year with the actual reveal.

Exciting times, no?

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27 Comments
  1. Michael
    Team TSA: Development
    Since: Forever

    Headset from day one? That’s WIN.

    Comment posted on 21/02/2013 at 17:11.
  2. Kennykazey
    Member
    Since: Mar 2010

    Damn, now there will be even more foreign language and background music in online games… teraflop.

    Comment posted on 21/02/2013 at 17:29.
  3. Dom El
    Member
    Since: Mar 2012

    The headset is a nice addition! Overall, even where I’ve seen grumbles regarding the lack of a console, poor streaming, and for some the games on show, people have been still been grudgingly positive about the console and the announcement event.

    Well done Sony!

    Comment posted on 21/02/2013 at 17:31.
  4. Alex C
    One for all.
    Since: Forever

    Coverage from some quarters was borderline embarassingly off target. It’s as if this is their first ever console reveal.

    Comment posted on 21/02/2013 at 17:40.
  5. bunimomike
    Member
    Since: Jul 2009

    I have never seen so many misplaced articles about what happened last night in all my video-gaming life. Admittedly, the internet means that we’re absorbing more than ever before but by quite some margin, it was pure shite in 95% of the media.

    Comment posted on 21/02/2013 at 17:51.
  6. Jakster123x
    Member
    Since: Aug 2011

    I was on BBC news this morning and was surprised to see that their headline was about the lack of a PS4 hardware reveal, “The ‘invisible’ PlayStation” i think they put it.

    Why is this being reported on as negative? Surely Sony coming right out and showing us what the console does and the games it’ll have is better than them bringing 1,400 people into a room and saying “Look at it, that’s a PS4 and it can play some games and do some other stuff too. See you in June.”

    Comment posted on 21/02/2013 at 18:04.
    • cam the man
      Member
      Since: May 2009

      We all want a good looking piece of kit under our TVs but it doesn’t really matter what it looks like as long as the games/features are better than the rest.

      Comment posted on 21/02/2013 at 18:25.
      • Jakster123x
        Member
        Since: Aug 2011

        Exactly.

        I’m disappointed that the 3 things my dad told me he heard about the PS4 from the radio were that the console wasn’t shown, there was no price and there was no release date. It’s irritating that a 2 hour conference with so many positives has somehow became reported as disappointing due to these three things.

        Sure, the fact the hardware wasn’t shown surprised me, but it really isn’t that relevant at the moment, they can show it in June when it’s closer to being final. The final 2 points are the most annoying though. They were never going to be announced yesterday. It is neither surprising nor disappointing that there was no concrete release date or price point revealed last night/this morning.

        Comment posted on 21/02/2013 at 18:59.
  7. The Von Braun
    Member
    Since: Oct 2012

    The PC VS Console aspect, even though i knew was coming, i had to stifle a groan once i saw the wave of ‘Call that next gen? my PC already….’ etc etc posts on various forums on the net.

    It really is pointless to compare the 2 platforms, PC games are rarely optimised to the same degree console games are, PC graphics card life cycles totally different to that of consoles,If Sony had put an uber custom chipset in the PS4, it’d only have pushed up the cost of the console and had developers eye rolling as they think, not again…..and PS4 would end up getting worse versions of multi-platform games.Hell just how many Wii U developers are optimising PS3/360 conversions for Wii U’s GPU and extra Ram?…exactly.

    At the end of the day, you pays your money and makes your choice.1 inital out lay on a fixed platform or the upgrade path the PC offers.Each has it’s fair share of pro’s and cons.

    But here’s the thing, IF developers are’nt willing to use the processing power of any platform, be it PC or console, it really does’nt matter a flying fig if the console version is running at 1080P, 30 FPS with 2X A.A and the PC version is at 1080P, 60 FPS+, with $X A.A etc when they A.I routines would shame a PS2 FPS.

    This generation alone i saw the same p*ss-poor path finding A.I in Red Alert 3, a Brothers In Arms game offering worse A.I than the 1st Xbox game, 2 Aliens games which had the worst Alien A.I since PS1 Alien Trilogy, dumb arsed guards in stealth games, Res.Evils Sheeva happily shooting me in the face, walking happily into a crate which was being pushed into a furnace etc.

    Think Jez San put it best, back in the PS2 era, everything from the Dreamcast onwards has rendered enough polygons to do the job, it’s what the developer does with them that now counts.

    Please developers, some A.I i can believe in, no more:sewer or air duct or bloody lift sections in games, if your going to do an Aliens game, ensure you have intelligent Alien behaviour A.I, other wise your ruining the creatures mythos.

    Leave the PC vs Console comparison back in the Graphics Tarts era’s (Graphics Tarts copyright Sega Europe/Saturn era i think :-) )

    Comment posted on 21/02/2013 at 18:08.
    • plutoniumdragon
      Member
      Since: Dec 2008

      What he said. I am a PC gamer mostly, but what’s good for the consoles should translate to being good for the PC as well.

      Comment posted on 21/02/2013 at 20:10.
  8. cam the man
    Member
    Since: May 2009

    Just this second watched BBC1 news report about the launch of the PS4 but it was more about ‘gamers’ using tablets etc. than it was about Sony. Don’t know why they bothered.

    Comment posted on 21/02/2013 at 18:29.
  9. TheDemocrodile
    Member
    Since: May 2010

    The funny thing for me is that, as an avid PC gamer, i was expecting to do nothing more than be alarmed by the specs on show and yet i find myself being curiously optimistic.
    Yes of course its worrying that my current gaming laptop will still be more than relevant despite being well over a year old but the step forward to an X86-64 architecture has a ton of benefits.
    The decision to use the more advanced RAM is to be welcomed as well as even if its highly unlikely to be utilised properly from day one at least the potential is there and given how developers have worked miracles on such abysmal tech specs over the last 12 months it seems a given that it will eventually be used.

    At the same time however i was hoping for more announcement on the storage capacity and more importantly, type.
    SSDs are essentially nowadays for a quick boot and fast acting system, i realise it adds a bit to the expense but if they use standard hard drives i feel that they are missing out on one of the more important advances in recent years.

    At the end of the day its unlikely i`ll be jumping aboard at the beginning, i didn’t pick up my PS3 until they announced the Slim models a few years back, the lessons learnt from picking up an early 360 aren’t quickly forgotten in my house and i feel itll need at least a few years to develop the kind of back catalogue i require.

    (incidentally the fact that the CPU is related to the Jaguar CPUs worries me intensely, i can only hope that its related in name only.)

    Comment posted on 21/02/2013 at 18:34.
    • plutoniumdragon
      Member
      Since: Dec 2008

      An SSD would have been nice, but hopefully they’ll allow one to be fitted and the interface will be quick enough for it to benefit. Unlike the PS3 where the HDD is a major bottleneck…

      Comment posted on 21/02/2013 at 20:35.
  10. TSBonyman
    Member
    Since: Dec 2009

    I haven’t enjoyed a Sony presentation so much since the E3 where they revealed The Last Guardian. Last night just seemed positive after positive, even the social aspects have me excited.
    The PS3 suffered a lot of bad press in it’s early days no matter what it got right or wrong and it seems that there’s a hefty dose of that still about. I was upset at all the crappy headlines this morning but I have faith that when PS4 does arrive it’ll shut a lot of the naysayers up.

    Comment posted on 21/02/2013 at 19:19.

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