News Article

Talking Point: Does the PS4 Need to Do More Than Push Polygons?

Posted by Sammy Barker

Generation game

Nintendo of America boss Reggie Fils-Aime reckons that Sony will need to do more than manufacture cutting edge technology in order to compete with the Wii U. The executive was responding to a query regarding the longevity of the recently released platform once the next generation console eventually arrives.

“In the end, our competitors need to react to what we’re doing in the marketplace, and need to figure out what their innovation will be,” the outspoken executive said in an interview with CNET. “It’s likely that faster processors and pretty pictures won’t be enough to motivate consumers. They need to react to what we’ve done, and we need to continue innovating with the Wii U and we will.”

In expertly avoiding the question – Fils-Aime fails to address what will happen if its latest console does get left behind – the spokesperson raises an interesting question: what constitutes innovation?

Certainly the company president seems to insinuate that raw hardware cannot facilitate new experiences alone, but that’s a flawed argument as far as we’re concerned. Showpiece franchises such as Assassin’s Creed and Uncharted prove that “faster processors” can provide new experiences, as neither series was possible on previous generation hardware. The former’s impressive crowd technology – a mechanic in the game – was one of the first real bullet-points for the PlayStation 3. Meanwhile, Naughty Dog’s trilogy transformed cut-scenes into playable sequences.

Fils-Aime appears to indicate that these types of technological advancements are not enough to excite consumers, but we beg to differ. You only need to cast your mind back to the reaction to Sony’s ridiculous Killzone 2 target trailer to understand the impact that the promise of new technology can provide.

Sony will continue to break boundaries with its selection of first-party games

And yet, improved hardware performance extends beyond just “pretty pictures”. Enhanced processing power can lead to all kinds of innovative experiences. LittleBigPlanet, for example, essentially transforms its parent platform into a whimsical workstation equipped with all of the tools necessary for users to create their own games. Furthermore, a sturdy online infrastructure makes it possible for budding designers to share their creations with the world at the tap of a button.

Media Molecule didn’t need a new input device to completely overhaul our understanding of user-generated content – it simply required a strong piece of hardware, a great idea, and a publisher that believed in its vision from the outset. Innovation means much more than eye-catching gimmicks.

Indeed, the next generation PlayStation console is unlikely to focus on touch-screen interfaces and motion controllers from the outset. An evolution of the PlayStation Move motion controller may be added as an optional extra, but Sony’s unique selling point is much more likely to stem from cloud technology, as its high-profile acquisition of streaming service Gaikai indicates.

Either way – assuming it maintains the same first-party strategy as the PS3 – it will continue to push boundaries in the software department. Nintendo may be able to reinvent its existing properties with a new interface, but Sony will continue to break ground with experiences such as Journey, The Unfinished Swan, and Heavy Rain. And, yes, it will almost certainly achieve that with a faster processor and a standard DualShock controller.

Do you agree with Fils-Aime’s insinuation that hardware advancements are not enough to facilitate new experiences alone? Would you like to see Sony experiment with new input devices for the PlayStation 4? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below.

User Comments (23)



Hokori said:

While I agree that Sonys finally making ips they didn't really that many to start with until mid PS2 era and Nintendo makes more then just there old ips
(Golden sun, chibi Robo, Ouendan, Daigasso band brothers, wii, brain age, pushmo, Sakura samurai, freaky forms, dillons rolling wester, tingle RPG, battalion wars, Baiton Kaitos, Xenoblade, the last story, Pandoras tower, ect.) and maiyamotos working on that new ip we know nothing about yet, Sony needs to make new ips or make more then an HD version of Ico and shadow of Collosus, I think if they made new series instead of all the HD remakes it would help (especially if they do a "super HD" or whatever, making the normal HD versions the same equivalent to SD, and I hope they don't just remake the games that are already in HD to super HD)



Cadiman1983 said:

I agree with Fils-Aime's to a certain extent. Having all the processing power in the world won't mean squat without good games. But the same is true for the input devices. The major difference for me is that I feel Sony is the only console manufacturer left who really cares about the games. Microsoft wants the Xbox to replace your cable box and all that jazz, and Nintendo doesn't play well with third party developers (no matter what they keep saying, we all know it is true). Am I excited to see what lies ahead for the next generation, of course I am. But to imply that Sony/Microsoft will be left behind because they don't come up with some gimmicky new controller is very short sighted.



ohhaime said:

PC's always have better processors and prettier pictures so power is never really a selling point for consoles to me.
I won't want to buy a PS4 just because it can render twice as many rubber ducks as a PS3. Games like Journey and The Unfinished Swan were not made because the PS3 was the only thing that had the hardware to run them. The thing that should sell consoles is new experiences. LBP could have been made for PCs with more power and memory then a PS3 but it wasn't. More powerful processors alone do not make new experiences.

I think if Sony doesn't include some kind of touch screen with their next system they will be at a big disadvantage.Because of smartphones and tablets everyone expects things to have touch screens now.I predict that with Windows 8 all laptops will have touch screens as a standard by next year. After that anything without a touch screen for input will start to look like a rotary telephone.



hYdeks said:

sony and microsoft are more for the hardcore graphic pushing cinematic games that use a traditional controller, and Nintendo is more about how to interact with the game. I think honestly, there's a market for both, but it would be cool to see a touchscreen gamepad for playstation 3



Ginkgo said:

Processing power is key to me, because it helps the feeling of immersion. It is certainly not the only factor, and good graphics alone will not work, but it IS important. Personally I have a dream of one day playing a game where you cannot distinguish the graphics from real life. Live out a virtual experience. I believe I will see it in my lifetime.

I think that the Wii U will sell well because of the name. The Wii got away with poor processing power, because of their innovative controller that captured the minds of causal gamers. But almost everyone I know who bought a Wii doesn't play it any more. Just gathering dust. The Wii U's graphics are now 6 years out of date, and when the PS4 and 720 come out it will be made to look rubbish again.

Fils-Aime's comments are nothing more than a diversion to try and make the conversation around the controller, because he knows their graphics won't hold up. I am not sure that the new tablet controller will grab people in that same way that the motion controller did, and if that happens, then suddenly the poor graphics will be a big issue.

Having said all that, I think that 3DS is awful tech (and the 3D is a gimmick) but people buy them by the droves so what do I know.



rastamadeus said:

I still don't think Reggie is meaning "PS4 should have a touch screen" or anything like that. It's true that a growing number of gamers, casual and 'hadcore', are becoming disillusioned with just better graphics, etc and want something new. Sony are more than capable of creating something that will make us all gasp, I just hope it isn't simply better visuals.

@HarmoKnight - bizarrely you forgot the game you're named after. I love that Nintendo are doing a load of new IPs recently, the next Smash roster is going to be ridiculously hard to choose for the dev team.

@Ginkgo - nothing, clearly



Slapshot said:

I just need a way to play games while I sleep. That way I can finally get to some of the games I want to — there's just to many to play!



Jaz007 said:

This article made some fantastic points. And despite the wii's innovation providing some great experiences I don't think it was the best fit for every game so a more traditional controller was need for this generation, and the additoinal power is a factor that allowed for some great experiences not possible on the wii, I'm sure Uncharted had moments that the wii coulden't even handle even with lesser (and provided it could the graphics would be unacceptable like less than ps2) and the wii coulden't have had such smooth animation like it did on the ps3 and the a.I on top that is a more sutble factor to consider. But don't get me wrong I think the Wii is great system.



Savino said:

I just love nintendo and sony!

Nintendo make the coolests gadgets for games ( yeah, wiimote and gamepad are very cool) and sony is all about brute force!

You cant go wrong with both!

And MS can go to hell with its crappy pc!



Hokori said:

@rastamadeus wow how could I forget my most anticipated 3DS game... Also I forgot my current favorite that's out Denpa Men... I don't have my A game today



Ginkgo said:

@rastamadeus You are right. Clearly different people look for different things and graphics/grunt is not high on many people's list. I have said before I know that I am not representative of the general population.

But I had a friend over recently who owns a Wii and we played GT5 with my racing wheel and he was blown away. The realism/immersion of that type of experience was completely new to him. Almost a revelation. Personally, I value that immersion, which is why I also love the Move and especially the Sharpshooter.

My hope for the PS4 is that it will enhance those types of experiences, and better graphics is a key part.

Don't get me wrong, the Wii U will be a success and sell well, but if it sells 100M units like the Wii I will eat my hat.



Zowolffo said:

Well if they don't want to repeat the PS3's launch again, then they can't just rely on overwhelming power.. If you look at history, the PS and PS2 were not the most powerful systems, but they sold the best for both generations.



tulaib_100 said:

i think ps4 will have a dual shock 4 and as far as the touch screen goes they will utilise ps vita slim for that i can bet 20$ that i'll win



craigun said:

Reggie Fils-Aime just loves to stir things up, he's just 'trolling'



Dambuster said:

look at this ...



Squiggle55 said:

I forgot about the purchase of Gaikai there for a second. That's another thing that will convince me to pick up the PS4 very quickly — if they introduce game renting on a console.



rjejr said:

@Squiggle55 - Nice, I predicted that bundle here about a month ago, possibly even that price.

As for the PS4, I don't know what to expect. The PS2 had some great stuff that the PS couldn't do, and the PS3 has great games that the PS2 couldn't do, but I'm not sure how much better graphics can get - and I think that is what Reggie is talking about. Once you have Uncharted and God of War can you really rely on graphical improvements to sell a new console?

I think Sony should max out the PS4 price at $400, which should be easy as the $250 PS3 already comes with a 250GB HDD and a blu-ray player. Now is not the time to equip the PS4 w/ whatever comes after blu-ray or a SSD. The Eye needs an HD revamp though, but the PS3 already has optical out and HDMI and WiFi and an ethernet port so it doesn't need to add much more from a technology perspective.

I do like the idea of game rentals. They are halfway there with PS+, now they just need to let us pick 1 game per month rather than give us one, but I don't see why they would need the PS4 for that.




Consoles are always distillations of PC hardware, never moreso than now.

PS3 can't come close to what's possible on a very high end gaming rig. Just take a look for the '100 mod' Skyrim video. But, they can try come as close as possible while remaining cost effective, and that's what PS4 and the next xbox will be trying to do, and rightly so.

With a simpler architechture to code for, a boost in CPU, GPU and RAM, and of course, not messing about with the DualShock, PS4 should absolutely push for very a capable bundle of hardware. Move and Vita support can be migrated, even enhanced. WIth those on board, and with MS having Kinect and Surface, they don't need to emulate WiiU and capture the casual market that Nintendo carved out for itself, they can continue in the same vein as this generation, and be open to huge AAA titles as well as indie gems.

Graphics aren't everything of course, but take a look at the showreels for the Unreal 4 engine, Cryteks new engine, Square Enix's new engine, even the Kara tech demo- and tell me you wouldn't prefer your games to look that good.

One thing I would like Sony to do is voice control. Xbox doesn't 'need' Kinect to do it, it's just a masterpiece of software only available as they see fit- with Kinect. But, the end result is quite something. It's a bit gimicky in a way, and most of the 'btter with Kinect' stuff seems a bit shoehorned in, but it works pretty much flawlessly.
So yeah Sony, we have the mic's already, but a better camera for Move would be good, and a vocabulary database such as Kinect would be sweet.

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