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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the Nvidia GeForce GTX 680 is around 3 TFLOPS and the new $1000 Titan from the same stable is 4.7 TFLOPS so the PS4 is out of date already.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?

  1. leeroye
    Since: May 2012

    I didnt get that move controller thing with the Band. Are they seriously trying to tell me you can control the movement of the characters and the music just by waving the wand around. And how long would that actually keep you entertained for any way.

    I think they should forget about the move, its a waste of time. More games like Watchdogs please, that demo was, dare i say it epic. When the character made the barriers pop up when the police car was after him, that was just one of them wow moments for me.

    Comment posted on 21/02/2013 at 19:46.
  2. AddictedAndy
    Since: Oct 2008

    I’m annoyed at the new eye which unless I am mistaken is not USB. I have my current eye extended by 15m to reach my cabinet and its all embedded into my walls. I can’t stand wires so unless they make it long enough to go under my carpet somehow its going to mean redecorating again.

    Also hoping for a proper iPhone/iPad app that let’s you control everything.

    I didn’t watch the presentation and have only rely’d on TSA coverage but I am pretty hyped for this!

    Did they mention 4k? Also what’s this about a new vita?

    Comment posted on 21/02/2013 at 20:03.
    • cc_star
      Team TSA: Writer
      Since: Forever

      4K photo viewing and maybe playback, confirmed that nothing game related will be 4K

      Comment posted on 21/02/2013 at 20:21.
  3. Lyts1985
    Since: Jan 2009

    Can’t help but feel they’ve revealed their cards too early… MS now know exactly what they’re up against and can change their plans to match\better Sony without anyone even knowing… I feel they should’ve left the reveal until closer to launch, or at least held back on publicising the specs etc

    Comment posted on 21/02/2013 at 20:12.
    • cc_star
      Team TSA: Writer
      Since: Forever

      Yeah, could have just showed off the games, the controller & Gaikai related services.

      Microsoft can now react the specs (just like Sony did by bumping the GDDR5 up to 8GB) and add services they haven’t even designed yet & just add them later through firmware.

      Comment posted on 21/02/2013 at 20:20.
  4. The Von Braun
    Since: Oct 2012

    For MS to suddenly ‘beef’ up the specs now to match those of PS4, it terms of type of memory used and how much of it, i’d wager would cause the mother of all headaches for the company.

    Not only would it push up the cost of raw materials for the console (they’d have to sort out a supplier, face stock shortages etc as they’d be in-line behind Sony and PC card producers), but circuitboards, manufacturing plants etc would have to be re-engineerered to suit (people still asking just how Sony have fitted so much DDDR 5 memory on board) etc.All of which would cause delays to the launch of Xbox next and thus give Sony even more of a head start.After seeing the PS3 finally catch up with 360, i’m sure they would want to launch sooner (and unlike Sony would’nt be overly concerned about Japan).

    Plus W.I.P Xbox Next games would have to be re-jigged to take advantage of any changes.

    History has proven that releasing hardware that’s been altered at last minute to compete with a rival system is a bad move (Sega Saturn with it’s 2nd 32 BIT RISC chip added, meant chips fighting over resources) or NEC’s PC-FX (Codename Iron Man being messed with once NEC released it was no match for PS1 or Saturn) or things rushed out the door without proper bug testing (ATARI Jaguar-chipsets had crippling bugs inthem, which meant hardware was throttled way back from it’s intended potential).

    Plus we are talking MS here, a company who’s bean counters took one look at Kinect and said: ‘You know what? lets down grade that camera, take out the on-board CPU and still sell it at the original R.R.P’.Are they really going to want to push up the raw material costs per unit of the Xbox Next?.

    They’ve already taken a few (cheap) pot shots at the PS4 event, a console reveal with no console huh? type stuff.

    Comment posted on 21/02/2013 at 21:04.
    • Lyts1985
      Since: Jan 2009

      Von, I see your point and I considered that myself, but Sony have thrown down the gauntlet now with what looks like an impressive setup with lots of interesting features. To the layman it’s all about gigabytes and teraflops and MS aren’t going to want to unveil a machine with say 4GB of RAM as average Joe will simply believe its underpowered. Regardless of how late in the day it is they aren’t going to want the new Xbox to be seen as inferior to the PS4… Increasing RAM, for example won’t have much influence on any game development in progress.

      I’m fairly confident that when the next Xbox is unveiled it’s specs will either be on par or better than the PS4, or specs won’t even get a mention. You can rest assured that their new machine will boast similar features too…

      Don’t get me wrong, I’m hyped for the PS4 and can’t wait to see how it turns out, I just think some secrecy is a good thing and that this is perhaps too much too soon. I do hope I’m wrong though, as I’d love Sony to prove their worth in the next gen and show exactly why they are now on their 4th iteration of home console :-)

      Comment posted on 21/02/2013 at 23:25.
  5. The Von Braun
    Since: Oct 2012

    But current thinking had the Next Gen Xbox having 8 G of Ram from the offset, it was always the PS4 that big questions surrounded (and indeed still do, as in just how the hell have Sony done that, when current PC cards are’nt managing it?), just of an older, slower type (DDR3 instead of DDR5, not that i have any real understanding what i’m typing here).

    Thinking is/was that the Next Gen Xbox O/S alone needed more Ram than PS4’s, plus it needed it as console designed to be running multiple applications at once, Kinect 2 will hog a load of it as it too has to handle multiple applications.

    Sony annouced PS2 specs early, just to destroy Dreamcast on paper 75 Million Polys a second, they then down played it to 66 Million Polys a sec, reality was around 10-15 Million and even then that dropped once you factored in more advanced lighting, textures etc.

    Will be interesting to see what MS does-for 360, it got hammered by showing real, but early game footage, when Sony with PS3 went all out ‘concept, no it’s honest guv, we swear’ footage of Killone and more duckies in a bath tub.But MS had it’s own share of gaffes:that fake Halo 2 9 Min E3 demo.on Xbox, Milo+Kate Kinect (what’s that you say Peter? it was real, but we, the great unwashed were not ready for it? say it’s not so, is that what happened with Xbox Fable? BC? G.Cube Unity? DC Black And White?).

    I don’t see them going the ‘Arms Race’ way (unlike say the MD VS SNES era where you had 256 colours, Mode 7 VS Blast Processing, lol), sure MS will be bigging up Kinect 2, bragging about Kinect 1 sales, superior online with XBL, timed exclusives on Generic modern setting FPS combat shooter :this time it’s blacker ops and we mean war:Hardened Edition.

    There’ll be new Halo, Forza, Gears etc i’m sure to satisfy the hardcore, Rare will have Kinect 2 games, but think it’ll be like Sony, more about the services and building on solid foundations laid this gen, than going all out to destroy a rival’s power.

    Think both have grown up somewhat and realised folks are a little more savy in cases and that it means nothing to the people they are now going after.People wanting best specs are going PC route.How can a console compete with this upgrade path or that of tablets/smart phones where your lucky if model you buy on day 1, is’nt rendered old hat within 12 months? PS4+Xbox Next designed to last years.

    It will be interesting to see what they say about using Blu ray this gen, after all the talk of ‘Future being digital anyway’ they made this gen, when questions asked why they stuck with DVD.

    Comment posted on 22/02/2013 at 01:19.
    • Greg Aldridge
      Team TSA: Writer
      Since: Oct 2008

      The only challenge to fitting 8GB of GDDR5 RAM in the system is financial, not technical. Standalone PC graphics cards don’t fit as much, though they’re up to 6GB these days, as they don’t need to with the PC having multiple GBs of ‘system’ RAM.

      Comment posted on 22/02/2013 at 10:05.
  6. Broonba
    Since: Mar 2009

    I need to go & lie down after reading some of the comments…….Teraflops, GDDR RAM, x amount of polygons per second etc, etc.

    Oh and what’s this about a new Vita?

    Comment posted on 22/02/2013 at 12:46.
  7. jimmy-google
    Since: Feb 2009

    A lot of the reporting made me wonder how these people got gaming related jobs. Everyone seemed to have a good idea about what would be revealed. The only surprise is that there were a lot more features than expect, more new games and no show of the actually console.

    If anything Sony showed more than expected.

    Comment posted on 22/02/2013 at 13:27.

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