Talking Point: Does the PS4 Need to Do More Than Push Polygons?
Posted by Sammy Barker
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.