Tobold's Blog
Thursday, February 21, 2013
The new PS4 will be a PC

As expected Sony announced the PS4, and it had no announced feature that would make me want to buy it. Backward compatibility will be even worse than the PS3, because basically Sony is changing the PS4 into a PC. On the plus side this makes it easier for game developers to make PS4 games, but with the downside that these games are increasingly unlikely to be Playstation-exclusives. If you can use more or less the same code on several platforms, why wouldn't you?

What I found disingenuous from Sony was the suggestion that at some future date the PS4 would be able to play PS3 and PS2 games streamed from the cloud. Because I am pretty certain, based on previous experience with the PSP, that you will not be able to use your existing PS2 disc as proof of purchase to be allowed to play the cloud version for free. So yes, maybe you'll be able to play PS2 and PS3 games again, but you will most probably have to pay for them again as well! And then they aren't even really running on your machine, but on some computer in the cloud with the result being streamed to you, and all the disadvantages of ping, lag, and lower quality that cloud gaming has.

If anything, cloud gaming makes me think that there is absolutely no need for proprietary consoles. If I can play by streaming from the cloud, why shouldn't I be able to play games from all possible platforms that way, using just one machine at home? Technically it should easily be possible to switch at will from playing an XBox game like Halo to a Nintendo game like Zelda and then to a Playstation game like Final Fantasy, with you just having one streaming box at home connected to your TV. If that won't happen, it is just because those companies won't work together, nor give the rights to do so to another company.

As a platform-agnostic service, Steam will be best placed to capitalise on the move to cloud-gaming.

If Gabe isn't all over this, he has lost his mind. The ability to stream my entire Steam collection on any device basically closes the book on consoles for me.
Gabe actually did a big talk on cloud gaming and how he thinks it's not the future, and is in fact pretty shit.

The basic theory is that the cloud has limitations, and the more people who use it, the shittier it gets. Also super-unfriendly to non-NA users. for a quickie.
The one thing the console gets you is that someone else does the tech support. People will pay a premium for someone else to ensure that the game will work properly when they go to play it. The cloud also helps in this dept because it means that the user doesn't own (or have to pay for) any of the hardware doing the heavy lifting - if I call Sony and say my game isn't running, they check if the server is up and if so then there are very few moving parts that can have broken in the user's house. For these things, a cut of every game goes to the platform for their work (e.g. $10 of a $60 PS3 game that costs $50 on PC).

But yes, all of us who play computer games - especially back 15-20 years ago when it was really dicey whether your new game would actually install and run - have already voluntarily taken on these challenges. Perhaps we're not the market.
I find that I' m much more curious about the next gen XBOX. In as much as I can get excited about any console. Specifically the kinect fascinates me. I love seeing what the modding community does with it and I think the XBOX proper has yet to bring something to market that really shows us what it's capable of.
The basic theory is that the cloud has limitations, and the more people who use it, the shittier it gets.

I can see how lower resolution graphics and 200 ms ping would affect negatively my experience of playing a shooter or racing game in the cloud. For a turn-based Japanese RPG the cloud's limitation are a lot less noticeable.
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Yup Sony makes no money allowing you to put your PS2 disk into a PS4 but they can make money charging you to stream a PS2 game from the cloud. I share you concerns though about how practical it will be in reality.

The backwards compatibility that I would really like to see is Sony do a deal with GoG to allow folk to play old PC games on their PS4 (with Wine or similar as a way to avoid MSoft). Almost certainly not going to happen but think of the possibilities.
Yeah, I was kind of shocked that they didn't even show us something, or let is know what they planned to charge. We're like 52 months into a 60 month project and you don't know how much it will cost?

Unless things change radically, the only thing that's going to keep me from going with the next XBox will be if they don't have blu-ray capacity. Otherwise there's basically no reason to mess with the PS4.
Cloud-based gaming is subject to many "experience" problems:

- image quality
- ping/lag
- needs a decent connection

Of course if you play Hearts or Chess online you can ignore them... But is the PS4 intended to play retro stuff?

FPS titles are cut out.
Graphically-cool games are cut out.
Fast-reaction games are cut out.

I mean... just buy a PC or build a custom one and enjoy the future.
Streaming games is one of those things I really thought would be the future, but I'm not sure these days. I don't know about Europe but in America there are basically just a few ISP monopolies. While broadband speeds have gone up over time, it's not happening fast enough. We need much better infrastructure for streaming games to work. If it does happen, it won't be in my lifetime at the current rate.

I think it's good to have one console to complement my PC, but I don't see that being a PS4. I will most likely get a Wii U when the good exclusives come out, just like I did with the Wii.
Here in Belgium it would work fine (the streaming that is). You can easily get up to 120MBS speed here, plenty to stream whatever you want in 1080p. And there are several other parts in Europe where the broadband speed is more then sufficient, Scandanivia in particular.
You can easily get up to 120MBS speed here

You can? Who is offering 120MBS, and is it unshared? I thought I had the fastest internet connection possible in Belgium with the 30MBS unshared VDSL.

Not that it matters, you only need about half of that for streaming 1080p.
I understand the scepticism. Broadband speeds are currently too slow for many people.

But we all know that will change, so Cloud Gaming isn't really a question of 'if' it will happen, but rather 'when'.

Sony have just put a stake in ground.

OnLive is out but the commercial model is wrong.

Meanwhile Blizzard have allowed players to stream their games while downloading for several years now.

It won't take a lot to make the whole thing viable for older games.
@ Bernard

Blizzard downloader streams the content based on where you are. You can't expect to install a fresh copy of the game with your level 90 character in Stormwind and instantly jump to any random raid instance. It will take a its time to download the proper content, there is no way to bypass that.

Of course if you have a level 1 human character... your fresh copy will stream quite fast.
But the level 1 characters are who the streaming is for. People who try WoW tend to be very impressed by the speed at which they can start playing (and critical of other games subsequently).
Mm, the only thing that excites me about the PS4 is streaming old content, but like you say, they will charge for it, and in the long run I think that will be a terrible PR move.

"We're too lazy to include backwards compatibility at all, we didn't even try in fact, but hey, you can pay us for the privilege of playing games that you already paid us for over a decade ago! Isn't that generous?"

The frustrating thing is that I'd actually be tempted, especially if they have a good library including some games that are difficult to get (like Tombi and a copy of Granstream Saga that works properly). I doubt they will though.

Also found it highly contrived how they're integrating the PS Vita. Rip-off of the WiiU much? Also, as if it's not enough to ask £400 for your console, you want £200 from me for your handheld as well? Yeah, sure...
Reading everyone's comments, it seems like Microsoft and Sony would make more money to spend tens/hundreds of millions of dollars less in developing a better console and use the money to purchase exclusivity from publishers.
Re cloud: PCs purchases are declining and smartphone and tablets are doubling; perhaps the future of streaming may be mobile?
Cloud computing is similar to X-11/Open Windows where you had a server and a graphics terminal.
And BTW if you want fair, no-botting play, then smart servers are a lot safer.
Askander: NPR (public radio) yesterday was talking about people using consoles as a 3-d scanner for clothes and more recently 3-d printers. (This being the internet, TTP is quite low.)
I don't think many people were expecting backward compatibility to the Cell. And Sony waiting for pricing details seems quite logical until they see XBox720.
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