There is no doubt that 2013 will usher in the next generation of gaming, a batch of new consoles with fresh features and gaming awesomeness. I have tallied up all the rumours, sources, and patents under the sun, to create a guide to the  Sony PlayStation 4 future. Prepare to be amazed.

Sony PlayStation 4
The PlayStation 3 was released back in 2006 and has been a household name ever since. Although it started off much underestimated, we have seen it grow in more ways than one, and shrink down in size at the same time, with two console redesigns. At 70 million units sold since release, Sony has definitely made its mark on the industry.

Look: Sony’s Signature look is black: sleek and shiny. Will this be implemented in the next console? I have my own view on this. Shortly after the release of 3D, Sony designed their Home Theatre system based on the PS3. With a similar look and interface, it was a hit. At CES 2013, Sony revealed their latest Home Theatre system BDP-S5100, with a pyramid styled top and sleek design. Could this be the design direction of the PS4?

Interface: A leaked 80-page report stated that the PS4 will run a new menu system called the Sony Aether GUI, but with Sony’s history of reusing designs, we could see something similar to the PlayStation Vita’s menu system. Cloud based gaming will happen, meaning saves and data will automatically be uploaded for ease of use. Sony bought Gakai last year, a leader in video game streaming, so disc-less gaming could also be the future, but is the world ready for that? Locally we would not be able to stream games without a heavy buffer time.

Controller: When the PS3 was announced Sony redesigned the famous DualShock into a steering-wheel inspired controller. That was quickly sacked after the public did not like it. I am certain we will see the DualShock 4, with a touch pad, advanced infra red, and a share button, connecting you to the social media world with a press of a button. I do not think Sony will drop the Move motion design; so get your arms ready for a work out.

Specs: According to yet another report, the developer kits contain 8GB of system memory, 2.2GB of video memory, a 4x Dual-Core AMD64 “Bulldozer” CPU – which gives it 8 cores, an AMD R10xx GPU, a Blu-ray drive, 160GB HDD, and 4x USB 3.0 and 2x Ethernet ports. The audio output is HDMI & Optical, 2.0, 5.1 & 7.1 channels. This is concerning: the HDD is not very big and games are expanding very fast. There is no doubt the PS4 will support 4K resolution, making game data even bigger than HD. As for disc capacity, Sony is apparently working on a Blu-Ray plus disc, with 64GB storage, and a new technology that picks up if it is a used game, blocking it till you purchase it online – goodbye second-hand games! Sony is said to be designing a new PlayStation Eye, with similar features to those of Microsoft Kinect.

Release Date: If the rumours are true, Japan will have the PS4 on sale late this year, and the rest of the world will see it released early 2014. Sony has stated, “We will be the last to reveal and will be the most expensive” and has been teasing a date set in February titled “See the future.” One thing is for sure, it will be announced this year, be it at their PlayStation event in February or at E3. Never fear, the PS3 line-up is still on fire this year, and it will still continue to be way after the launch of the PS4.

Game Line-Up: Let’s pray Sony does not drop backwards compatibility like they did for the PS3 and hope it makes PS2 titles playable too. I am certain that Sony will use and abuse its first-party publishers and have a huge well-known launch line up. Here are some we might see:

• New instalment of Uncharted
• LittleBigPlanet 3
• New instalment of MotorStorm
• Killzone 4
• Metal Gear Solid 5 (which might be the Phantom Pain trailer debuted at last year’s VGA)
• New instalment of Resistance
• Gran Turismo 6

Microsoft’s new Console
The Xbox 360 was released in 2005 with one of the biggest advertising campaigns ever; it was everywhere, with its unique interface and exclusives. It was, and still is, a great home console. With Kinect and Windows connectivity, it defined social and interactive gaming, well past Nintendo’s Wii. It was the first Microsoft console ever to get a redesign in 2010, with a new built in Wi-Fi feature, a shiny sleeker look, new menu interface and slightly prettier controller.

Design: There is not much said about the look of the new Xbox, but Microsoft likes the blocky, box-like console seen in previous generations. Some reports state that it will have built-in Kinect features, so it will have to implement that into its design. I am sure it will remain classy. When the Xbox 360 was released it was lacking that sleek design, it was clunky and full of holes, but Microsoft soon fixed that with the redesign.

Interface: The Xbox 360 has the interface perfected, with its Windows 8 inspired Dashboard, it is easy to navigate, and Kinect navigation is really nice. Microsoft will most likely use Windows 8 Metro style as their inspiration for the interface for their new console. It is for certain that Avatars will make their return, being so highly popular and such a great profit for Microsoft. And it goes without saying that all the great online features like Netflix, and ESPN will return. Social media Apps will be implemented into games more often, and will be emphasised.

Controller: The Xbox controller was voted as the best gaming controller. It is sturdy, and the analog positions are perfect for any game. Why change something that is perfect already? Do not forget that Microsoft boasts the idea that “you are the controller,” so I believe that Kinect functionality will be improved along those lines. There is also a rumour that they will implement a Siri-like functionality, allowing games and the console to be controlled fully with voice commands. I will not be surprised to see Microsoft using their Surface Tablet as a second controller, greatly improving their Xbox Glass App to a whole new level.

Specs: Sources have confirmed that the next Xbox will house an AMD 8-core x64 1.6GHz CPU, a D3D11.x 800MHz graphics solution and 8GB of DDR3 RAM. No word on HDD space as of yet, but Microsoft will not let us down with that. A rumoured source states that Microsoft will give in and finally use a 50GB Blu-ray disc, which is about time; no one wants 3 discs for one game. Blu-Ray is Sony’s baby, which is why the current Xbox uses dual layer DVDs. The sources also say that Xbox will do away with second-hand games.

Release Date: Unlike Sony and Nintendo, Microsoft has never made it clear that their consoles have a life span, nor have they announced them every set number of years. 2013 will see the announcement of the next Xbox, if it released this year, we will have to see, and if they are smart they will tackle the holiday season. If we look at titles releasing this year, we can see that August and onwards is very dry, this could hint at a December release.

Game Line-Up: : The Xbox 360 had a great line-up of first-party titles, exclusives if you may, that slowly diminished over the past two years. I believe we will see a lot of first-party support with the next console. Do not be surprized to see some of these:

• Halo 5
• Next instalment of Gears of War
• Next instalment of Forza
• The return of Fable
• Many more Kinect games.

Graphics and hardware are evolving so fast, will the next generation console be future-proof, or will technology make them redundant? I predict we will pay R3,000 – R4,000 for the new consoles, and games will be a little more expensive – it is an expensive hobby. Nonetheless, 2013 will bring the announcements of the next generation, and it is pretty exciting: new features, games, and accessories. Who will have the best console?

by Marco Cocomello

Published in Playboy South Africa March 2013