Blast from the Past: This Time Last Year, You Were Awaiting the Unveiling of the PS4
Posted by Sammy Barker
At the precise moment that we’re penning this article exactly one year ago, the PlayStation 4 wasn’t officially announced. Sony had teased its big 20th February press event in New York, but it still hadn’t disclosed exactly what it was going to reveal. The speculation was strong, of course, but it wasn’t until Andrew House took to a somewhat low key stage at approximately 6PM local time that the console became a reality. Fast forward to the present day and it’s already exceeded sales in the region of five million units.
The show itself was criticised at the time. Some industry pundits pondered whether the platform holder had played its next generation system too safe, with a selection of necessary decisions but very few real innovations. Elsewhere, the mainstream media lambasted the absence of any tangible hardware, with concepts and controllers on display, but no actual unit itself. Meanwhile, many opted to wait and see what Microsoft had in store – a decision which meant that they would have to twiddle their thumbs for almost three months while the Redmond-based firm failed to react.
I'll wait for a while. Honestly, I thought the event was pretty disappointing. The system seems really cool, and I'm psyched for inFAMOUS, but that's it really. - brotagonist
Day one for sure as long as either Killzone: Shadow Fall or inFAMOUS is there. I thought Sony did a pretty good job, don't know how anybody could be disappointed. - Gamer83
I'll buy one, for sure. They showed more games than I was expecting this early on, and there will definitely be more revealed throughout the year. - hamispink
The event started with a bang. A flashy ‘Push the Boundaries’ trailer leaned heavily on nostalgia from past PlayStation platforms, and kickstarted a yearlong campaign that would see the manufacturer draw heavily upon its history and demonstrate how those past successes have helped to define its future. Upon boldly declaring its latest device the most powerful ever made, Marble Madness creator Mark Cerny took to the stage to reveal his role in the design of the console. Up until that point, no one knew that the industry legend had been working as an architect on the appliance for the past five or so years.
A flashy ‘Push the Boundaries’ trailer leaned heavily on nostalgia from past PlayStation ad campaigns
The sleepy public speaker immediately introduced the five key features that would define the new machine: its ‘supercharged PC’ architecture, simplistic x86 CPU, enhanced GPU, 8GB GDDR5 memory, and local storage hard-drive. There was a sense at the time that the company was not just presenting this information to consumers, but also to developers, who had famously complained about the complexity of the PlayStation 3. However, it was the use of the superfast unified memory solution that most pleased pundits, and remains the device’s best asset.
While it may not have brought a box with it to the event – Worldwide Studios president Shuhei Yoshida later revealed that he first got to see the console’s chassis behind closed doors later that day in New York – it did show off the DualShock 4. Redesigned based on feedback, the platform holder pointed to its numerous new features, including enhanced rumble, reduced latency, touchpad, and light bar, which could be tracked by a new stereo camera which would also launch alongside the console.
And it didn’t take too long to show off the format’s first piece of software. With credits including Ratchet & Clank and Crash Bandicoot, Cerny confirmed that he was collaborating with Japan Studio to create a new old-school platformer named Knack, which was immediately followed by a trailer demonstrating its colourful environments. Gaikai president Dave Perry later took to the stage to discuss the Japanese giant’s in-production streaming service, which was recently renamed PlayStation Now. We also got our first glimpse of live gameplay from the abovementioned mascot platformer, courtesy of Remote Play.
Footage from Killzone: Shadow Fall was immediately uploaded to the franchise’s Facebook page in real time
With the hardware discussion completed, the company turned its attention to the console’s most important asset: games. It kicked things off with a real show stopper, as Killzone: Shadow Fall was announced with a live ten minute demo. Footage from this playthrough was then immediately uploaded to the franchise’s Facebook page, demonstrating in real-time the system’s social network capabilities. However, it didn’t stop with just the one game, bringing a slew of developers up on the stage to talk about the system and a catalogue of impending titles.
From the first-party side of things, Evolution Studios unveiled social racer DriveClub, which is sadly still stuck in the Runcorn-based developer’s parking lot as we write. Meanwhile, a nervous Nate Fox confirmed inFAMOUS: Second Son, while David Cage and Alex Evans opted to show tech demos from Quantic Dream and Media Molecule respectively. Perhaps the most interesting segment was the appearance of Jonathan Blow, though, which revealed the early signs of the firm’s indie intent.
The manufacturer also rolled out a handful of third-party studios, with Yoshinori Ono from Capcom confirming free-to-play dungeon crawler Deep Down and Square Enix teasing a Final Fantasy-themed announcement, which would end up being Final Fantasy XV. Ubisoft was also awarded the opportunity to demo Watch Dogs, while Blizzard Entertainment announced that Diablo III was coming to the next-gen console. Activision wrapped things up with Destiny, which the outfit stated would have exclusive content on PlayStation platforms. Having former Halo developer Bungie on stage at a Sony event certainly seemed like a big deal at the time.
Looking back, the actual unveiling of the PS4 feels like a small scene in a bigger drama building up to launch
And with that, the two hour plus conference came to a close. Unsurprisingly, it gave us plenty to talk about over the subsequent 24 hours, with this intrepid editor suggesting that “practicality and power” had paved a “positive start” for the fresh format. You seemed impressed with it, too, with the majority of you commenting that you were pleased with the reveal, and a big chunk of you voting Sucker Punch’s superhero sequel as your most anticipated game. Unsurprisingly, other sought after titles included Watch Dogs and Killzone: Shadow Fall.
Looking back on it now, the actual unveiling of the PS4 feels like a small scene in a bigger drama building up to launch, but the show served as a real statement of intent from the manufacturer. Up until that point, there was scepticism surrounding the company’s prospects against a snowballing Xbox brand, but the Japanese giant’s back-to-basics approach proved that it had learned hard lessons from the PS3. It maintained a humble and gamer-centric attitude right through until the device’s release in November, and its laser focused approach was eventually rewarded with a record breaking launch. It’s amazing how much can happen in the span of a year, isn’t it?
Do you have fond memories of the PS4’s announcement? Where were you when the system was officially revealed? What were your first impressions of the device, and has Sony exceeded them since launch? Look back in the comments section below.
Did you watch the PS4’s unveiling live? (30 votes)
Are you kidding? Of course I did
I couldn’t, unfortunately – but quickly caught up
No, I wasn’t interested at the time
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