A PS4 will be launched by Sony but not until at least 2010 claims the Vice President of Technology for Sony Computer Entertainment Europe, Paul Holman.
What will happen between then and now is that Sony will introduce a series of firmware upgrades that will give the PS3 more media centre capability while allowing for the introduction of third party applications and hardware “Such as interactive controllers” similar to the Nintendo Wii he said.
“To say that there will be no PS4 because of a management change is a bit far fetched: he said.
Speaking to SmartHouse in Sydney, Holman said that right now Sony game developers are realizing that the PS3 with the Cell processor has “A heap more processing headroom than they initially anticipated and that this was resulting in the development of new gaming capabilities”.
He also said that by March when the PAL version of the Sony PS3 will be launched in Europe and Australia that the PS3 will undergo an additional firmware upgrade and that he anticipates that at least 20 new games will be available to coincide with the launch.
“The PS3 has an awful lot of processing power and we will harness this power with firmware upgrades and new features. He also admitted that the PS3 will become as much a media centre for the home as it is a gaming machine and the introduction of new capabilities such as the ability to download third party operating systems to the PS3 will see several new capabilities added to the system. We have already seen one European Linux application running on the PS3 and over the next few months we know of several others that plan to launch a product for the PS3”
He also said that in the future the PS3 could come with a keyboard and mouse that will allow for easier access to the internet as well as the use of new media centre and third party applications.
Today I played with the new PS3 and while the graphics are significantly inproved the big advantage is it’s ability to plau Blu Ray movies. Despite the delays, the shortages and the unprecedented high price of US$599 for the premium 60-gigabyte model, assuming you can find one – and the small number of available high-definition games that take advantage of its powerful new Cell processor, the PS3 sets new standards not just for video game play but also for multimedia entertainment in the digital era.
It also reaffirms that Sony is still at the top of its game when it comes to designing advanced technology in stylish packages. Sleek and gleaming black, it blends in with the most sophisticated of living-room home-theater systems, which sets it apart from the alien designs of its two main competitors, the Microsoft Xbox 360 and the new Nintendo Wii.
In the ongoing DVD format war, it also gives a huge boost to Sony’s push to make the Blu-ray Disc the dominant standard for high-definition DVD players and movie titles (over rival HD-DVD), since the PS3 becomes, for now, the least expensive Blu-ray player on the market. At todays briefing I was shown the difference between Blu Ray on the PS3 and the traditinal DVD playback. The difference was dramatic with clearer and sharper images.
The Xbox 360 has a full year’s headstart on the PS3 and Wii, which means it has more third-generation games available for it, and Microsoft has recently added new bells and whistles like an optional HD-DVD player and full-length movie and TV downloads in high-definition. However indications are that it is not hitting its sales targets in the USA and this could be a problem as both Sony and Nintendo roll out competitive products.
The Wii can’t match the PS3 or the Xbox 360 in terms of realistic graphics or movie playback, but it is significantly cheaper $395 in Australia. It also has its own set of innovative technologies and will appeal to families whose idea of fun does not necessarily entail eviscerating alien monsters.
In terms of technical firepower, the PS3 and the Xbox 360 appear to be in a dead heat. The Xbox 360 excels at online game play and has millions of Xbox Live customers already. Sony’s PS3 online game network had not yet been switched on at the time of this writing. Hoever we were shown an online shop that will see Sony Entertainment competing directly with mass retailers for software sales.
Technical propellerheads argue over which system, Sony’s or Microsoft’s, is the most advanced. In my view, Sony’s Cell processor and its integrated Blu-ray DVD drive are superior to the Xbox 360’s PowerPC chip and optional HD-DVD drive.
It will take software developers a long time to harness the full power of the Cell chip and the greater capacity of the Blu-ray Disc, so Sony’s technical advantage over the Xbox 360 won’t be apparent immediately.
Sony had claimed that the PS3 was backward-compatible with all games – some 16,000 in total – written for the previous PlayStation and PS2 game consoles. It turns out that not all older games will play properly on the new system, but most will.
Sony has endured what Elizabeth II once called an annus horribilis, a year of misery, what with exploding batteries, imploding profits and all the PS3-related delays, supply problems and griping over high prices. But Sony’s engineers and designers have reason to be proud: The PS3 is well worth the money and well worth waiting for.