Sony wants you to know that the PlayStation 4 is coming this Christmas, but not what it will look like.
The Japanese electronics giant talked about its upcoming console for the first time on Wednesday and showed what it can do, without actually revealing the device itself.
“I don’t know that the box is going to be something that’s going to have a dramatic impact on people’s feelings about the game, said Jack Tretton, CEO of Sony Computer Entertainment of America, the US-based arm of the PlayStation business.
Tretton said the price of the PS4 hasn’t been decided yet, but hinted that it wouldn’t be as high as the PlayStation 3 was initially.
The PS4 will be jostling for attention this Christmas with Microsoft’s successor to the Xbox – details of which are expected in June.
Sony did reveal that the insides of the PS4 will essentially be a “supercharged PC,” much like an Xbox.
That’s a big departure from the old and idiosyncratic PlayStation design and should make it easier for developers to create games.
“One of the big challenges we faced in the past was that we created great technology that we handed over to the development community, and they had to go through a learning curve before they could harness it.
And when they did, we saw some phenomenal games,” Tretton said.
“We wanted to lower that barrier of entry and really give them the ability to create tremendous gaming experiences from day one.”
The adoption of PC chips also means that the new console won’t be able to play games created for any of the three previous PlayStations, even though the PS4 will have a Blu-ray disc drive, just like the PS3.
Instead, Sony said gamers will have to stream older games to the PS4 through the internet.
Other new features revolve around social networking and remote access.
With one button, you can broadcast video of your game play so friends can “look over your shoulder virtually,” said David Perry, co-founder of the Sony-owned internet game company Gaikai.
With remote play, you can run a game on the PS4 to stream over the internet to Sony’s mobile gaming device, the PlayStation Vita, which debuted last year.
The goal is to make the PS4 so good at figuring out what games and other content you want that it can download it without being asked, so that it’s available when you realise you do want it, Sony said.
“Our long-term vision is to reduce download times of digital titles to zero,” said Mark Cerny, Sony’s lead system architect on the PS4.
Beyond games, the PS4 will let people create animation in 3-D using a Move motion controller – all in real time.