At last Sony have started the next generation of the console wars. This is a long awaited announcement that sets the ball in motion for a whole year of hype and press conferences from Sony, Microsoft and plenty of developers wooing us with their shiny, fancy new wares.
I am personally quite excited about this launch later in the year. I used to be quite a die hard Nintendo fan having owned all their previous consoles, but I feel a little let down by the Wii and its lack of power and even though it had some pretty strong dedicated games (e.g. Mario Galaxy 1&2, Zelda) the console has really struggled to keep up with the superior offerings from Sony and MS. As I get older I spend less and less time gaming and end up using my consoles as much for watching video and TV as I do for playing games. I am not a massive fan of online multiplayer, but do enjoy the high quality graphics and more adult content that the serious consoles provide. To add to that Nintendo have released a console with a controller that is almost as big as the original Xbox controller which required a bungie around the neck to be able to hold for more than five minutes. Not great…
So for me what were the most exciting things about the launch event? Well there was quite a lot to be excited about.
What was exciting?
- Some awesome graphics
Clearly the power of the next gen consoles is going to give some pretty amazing visuals that was clearly demonstrated through the demo of Drive Club and the rendering of this old mans head by Quantic Dream. I don’t need to say much more here, watch the videos. There will be plenty more to see over the summer and at E3.
- Lots of UK developers
I am really excited that they chose to present a number of different projects and most of the people involved in those presentations were British. This is a pretty cool thing in this modern age where the US and Japan lead the tech world that some British developers and architects are driving forward high end gaming. The industry in the UK has always been strong, but this just affirms that there is still plenty to offer in terms of expertise from my little island. Even a couple of the really senior Sony chaps are Brits (Michael Denny and the other Sony guy).
- A different approach to console strategy as well as keeping the core fan base
It looks like Sony is really embracing the need to keep up with the changing way we do things by integrating more with tablets and mobile, social gaming etc., but they have also got it right in that what they do is so much better than playing Infinity Blade on an iPad. You just can’t get those immersive experiences on a tablet or mobile. A lot of people have said that the consoles are losing ground on mobile, but in reality those people playing on their iPhone would have never have bought a console anyway so it is pretty unlikely that they are going to fork out £300 on a brand new one. That isn’t losing market share when actually it is never a market you would have had anyway.
I always found it hilarious and pretty astounding how well Nintendo did getting the Wii into people’s homes. I had 50 year old colleagues at work who bought a Wii only to play it for a couple of weeks and now it sits there under their TV collecting dust and consuming power… Gaming isn’t a massively mainstream activity and probably won’t be after the new consoles are released because being dedicated to it takes a certain male youth demographic. It is just the way it is, so the developers might as well concentrate on delivering that experience to that group to the highest level rather than spreading themselves thin on crap girly / family friendly games.
- 5 key principles of user interface
As an Enterprise/Business Architect with an interest in the way companies link strategy with technology and its users I found the principles that Sony has adopted as the most fascinating aspect of the whole presentation. There is a short article about these principles here; they are summarised below:
It is brilliant that they have focused the vision for the console around some core values and this is certainly something that I will try to bring into my company with our core content delivery platform and other new developments and how it can be used to improve the experience for our users. By being able to zoom in on a few critical elements and bring those into everything that you deliver it stops development happening that shouldn’t happen, isn’t properly focused or isn’t going to deliver value to your end users. It sounds quite simple, but it is tough to distill that vision down to those 5 principles.
It was also pretty cool to hear from their Chief System Architect. He really helps to understand how they got around to getting the console developed. It is clear that they needed to go back to a more generic architecture that allows 3rd parties to easily deliver powerful and high quality content (games and applications) without the struggles of fighting the complexity of the system itself that was one of the main blockers for PS3 in the early days.
- Controller looks pretty good too
What was not so good?
You can’t have it all I suppose:
- No price
- No UK release date
- No pictures of the console itself
You may or may not have spent late Wednesday night watching the live stream from New York, but if you didn’t I definitely recommend catching it here:
If you really want to read a stream of completely unsubstantiated spleel on what PS4 will or won’t be then check out this site.