Everybody that knows me would tell you how excited I am about the change that Sony announced at the reveal of the PS4. I want to go over some of the main points that I think are actually really huge for developers and the consumer. This is going to be much more focused on the hardware with some touches on features they announced that I feel will be important in the future.
When I first started working on the PS3 I was blown away with how complicated it was to use the CELL processor. Now I love challenges, I did do some pretty cool thing on the SPU’s but the time and effort was much higher than I felt like it should of been. I think the choice to go to a common architecture with 8 hardware cores, is a “HUGE” move forward for Sony. This is going to make it so indie developers can actually build games for the PlayStation 4. On the PS3 there was so much effort put into platform specific code that indie developers couldn’t afford to truly optimize for the hardware. I would be willing to bet that a lot of the smaller PSN titles didn’t use the SPU’s at all, and even some of the larger games didn’t fully start utilizing them until later in the platform cycle. Even though I’m going to miss not “discovering” some new hardware, I think this is going to help Sony more than we realize at this point. Also because of this choice Sony is giving up the ability to support PS3 titles. I feel like this isn’t a deal breaker though, and I believe a few months after the console has been released people won’t even mention that its missing. Just hang on to your PS3 so you can boot up your old copies of Uncharted when you get the urge to play them again.
Not much was actually revealed about the GPU, but we know that it will be on the same die as the CPU, and will be connected to unified memory which I will cover after this. The GPU was rumored to support DirectX 11, but I’m pretty certain Sony would not fully support a Microsoft technology, although I do believe they will have some of the features that DirectX 11 supports. We’ll see though when more details come forward.
8GB GDDR5 Unified Memory
Take a minute to let that sink in, that is 16x the amount of memory in the PS3. The amount of memory isn’t the only big announcement, the fact that it will be using 8GB of GDDR5 memory is completely unexpected. GDDR5 memory is “fast” and also very expensive, but this is going to allow for so much more of everything. I am a bit concerned that the price of games is going to increase a lot more, but lets hope this architecture makes development easier and faster than previous generations so it balances out. The real increase in content will come in art creation though, and that will take more effort to create content that fills the memory provided.
Live Streaming to UStream
I didn’t see any mention of Twitch, but I hope that’s supported as well. I think this is a huge step forward in connecting gamers with their audience. I watch a lot of streams, and I know I’m excited for this feature, but I will be interested to see how many people are like me.
The controller looks good, but I really hope they tightened up the joysticks, and fixed the triggers. I use to love the PS2 controller, but as times have changed so has my demands for a good controller. Going back to the Dreamcast and N64 which had horrible controllers, all the way to today where the Xbox 360 controller is amazing, the PS4 controller has to make some changes, and I for one can’t wait to see if they’ve done it.
A lot of the other features seemed more like a dream or something that isn’t in development yet such as streaming games remotely to your PS4, or having it so a friend can jump in and help you through a particular area that your stuck. This all seems cool, but I want to see how much of this actually comes through. With whats announced right now, I can’t wait for E3 where we are sure to find out more.
Also is Microsoft going to actually release this year?