These days, even non-gamers are accustomed to having several glowing devices at their immediate disposal, from laptops to tablets to smartphones. The PS4 plays directly into that phenomenon. For example, if you're in the middle of a game and you need to leave the house, you can shift your play time from your TV to your portable PlayStation Vita. Or, if you're still playing at home, you can link your smartphone or tablet to the system and use those handheld devices as so-called second-screen accessories to augment game play. Not all games will have this functionality initially, but Sony is hoping that developers will integrate the full social capabilities of the PS4 into their titles.
Even the way you buy games will change. In the past, to obtain a game for your console, you trudged to your local big box store and shelled out around $50 for a disc, or you ordered a disc online. With the PS4, every game will be downloadable, and prices will range from a few bucks to about what you expected to pay for those old-school discs.
Some of those games will likely take a long time to download due to their tremendous size. No worries, though. Sony made the system so flexible that you can actually start playing the game even as it's still downloading in the background. If you're not sure whether you want to buy a game, you can stream demos right from the Internet on a trial basis. As your PS4 learns your gaming habits, it will even pre-load demos of games that it thinks you'll enjoy.
If and when you finally tire of gaming, you can switch entertainment modes to movies or TV shows. Details are still scarce, but you should be able to stream content from Amazon Instant Video and Netflix directly within the PS4 interface. Or, you can just open a Web browser and do some surfing without having to switch to your PC.
It will probably be years before anyone knows just how Sony's PS4 gamble plays out. Perhaps this will be one of the last big console launches aimed specifically at hardcore gamers. On the flip side, maybe the PS4 will prove that these staple entertainment devices still have legs. Either way, it's a good bet that there's enough technology jammed into the PS4 to make for whole lot of tired fingers and eyes made bleary by late night gaming sessions.
Author's Note: How the PS4 Works
These days, you don't even need a console to play some pretty fun games, as "Angry Birds" addicts everywhere can attest. But there's still something to be said for small, powerful boxes perfected just for fast, fun gameplay. The problem is that consoles are expensive to develop and manufacture -- and company earnings can take a big hit (or large jump) depending out how well a console sells. In the days of everywhere gaming, though, I'm hopeful that sleek, home-based machines like the PS4 can prove they still outperform their up-and-coming competition.
- Ackerman, Dan. "Console Wars 2013: Sony PS4 and is Competitors." CNET Asia. March 4, 2013. (March 14, 2013) http://asia.cnet.com/console-wars-2013-sony-ps4-and-its-competitors-62220703.htm
- Apple Insider. "Sony Announces PS4, Touts Unification of Hardware, Software, Internet Capabilities." Feb. 20, 2013. (March 14, 2013) http://appleinsider.com/articles/13/02/20/sony-announces-ps4-touts-unification-of-hardware-software-internet-capabilities
- Bramwell, Thomas. "The Big Interview: Sony's Shuhei Yoshida on PS4." Eurogamer. Feb. 21, 2013. (March 14, 2013) http://www.eurogamer.net/articles/2013-02-21-the-big-interview-sonys-shuhei-yoshida-on-ps4
- Chacos, Brad. "PlayStation 4 vs. PC Graphics: Can Sony Even Compete?" PCworld. Feb. 25, 2013. (March 14, 2013) http://www.pcworld.com/article/2029138/playstation-4-vs-pc-graphics-can-sony-even-compete-.html
- Chen, Brian X. and Streitfeld, David. "With PlayStation 4, Sony Aims for Return to Glory." New York Time Online. Feb. 20, 2013. (March 14, 2013) http://www.nytimes.com/2013/02/21/technology/sony-unveils-playstation-4-aiming-for-return-to-glory.html
- Jackson, Mike. "Gaikai Tech Brings Spectating, Instant Demos, More to PS4." CVG. Feb. 20, 2013. (March 14, 2013) http://www.computerandvideogames.com/392446/gaikai-tech-brings-spectating-instant-demos-more-to-ps4/
- Kuchera, Ben. "Is Blu-Ray Really a Good Medium for Games?" Ars Technica. Jan. 17, 2007. (March 14, 2013) http://arstechnica.com/gaming/2007/01/6658/
- Kohler, Chris. "PlayStation 4: The Last of the Game Consoles." Wired. Feb. 22, 2013. (March 14, 2013) http://www.wired.com/gamelife/2013/02/ps4-analysis/
- Levy, Stephen. "Sony Circles the Wagons with PlayStation 4." Wired. Feb. 21. 2013. (March 14, 2013) http://www.wired.com/business/2013/02/sony-circles-the-wagons-with-playstation-4/
- Laird, Jeremy. "Sony's PlayStation 4 is a Thinly Disguised PC." Techradar. March 2, 2013. (March 14, 2013) http://www.techradar.com/news/computing/sonys-playstation-4-is-a-thinly-disguised-pc-1134221
- Leadbetter, Richard. "Spec Analysis: PlayStation 4." Eurogamer. Feb. 21, 2013. (March 14, 2013) http://www.eurogamer.net/articles/df-hardware-spec-analysis-playstation-4
- MacManus, Christopher. "Finer Details About PlayStation 4's DualShock 4 Controller, Eye Camera." CNET.com. Feb. 21, 2013. (March 14, 2013) http://news.cnet.com/8301-17938_105-57570456-1/finer-details-about-playstation-4s-dualshock-4-controller-eye-camera/
- Prescott, Shaun. "Sony: Every PS4 Title Will Be Available as Digital Download." CVG. Feb. 24, 2013. (March 14, 2013) http://www.computerandvideogames.com/393081/sony-every-ps4-title-will-be-available-as-digital-download/
- Sony press release. "Sony Computer Entertainment Inc. Introduces PlayStation 4." Scei.co.jp. Feb. 20, 2013. (March 14, 2013) http://www.scei.co.jp/corporate/release/130221a_e.html
- Taylor, John. "AMD and the Sony PS4. Allow Me to Elaborate." AMD Blog. Feb. 21, 2013. (March 14, 2013) http://blogs.amd.com/fusion/2013/02/21/amd/
- Yin-Poole, Wesley. "PS4: PC-Like Architecture, 8GB RAM Delight Developers." Eurogamer. Feb. 22, 2013. (March 14, 2013) http://www.eurogamer.net/articles/2013-02-22-ps4-pc-like-architecture-8gb-ram-delight-developers