Wednesday, December 6, 2006

Watch out for the PS4 bogus hype

Recently I read an article that had the headline "Hirai suggests PS4 is more than ten years away"

After reading the article, I found he made no suggestion whatsoever, and again it was more speculation fanning false flames of curiosity and wonder and taking comments out of context, then it was a legitimate "suggestion".

The article was about an interview between CNet and Kaz Hirai, Sony's president. They drew speculation from the question about the Nintendo Wii's low price,
asking how that effected the PS3. All Hirai said was basically that he thought the PS3 added tremendous value, and that if you bought any of sony's products,
you would still be able to use it 10 years down the road. Now, if he said we want THIS product to be able to be the top product 10 years from now it'd be a different story.
However, the reason Sony has made their systems backward compatible, is so all your old software won't have gone to waste if you choose to upgrade.
If you do not choose to upgrade, there still will be games comming out for quite awhile for the old system after the new system comes out.
The original playstation (PS1) became the first system to sell over 100 million copies... However it didn't hit this point until AFTER the PS2 came out. In fact, sold it's 100 million copy in March of 2005.
This was about 5 years after the release of the PS2. The original playstation is only now starting to lose it's value, and I'd say the users got a good 10 years out of it.
(dates need confirmation)
Hirai even followed up when he was asked if the PS4 would most definitely not be released within the 5 years
and he clarified his last statement by specifying that all he meant was that Sony makes sure that they take care of their customers so that their product is still good.

Then again, mentioning the 10 year thing could give a good smokescreen if in fact they were planning on releasing in roughly 5 years.

But, I digress, I will allow you to develop your own opinion on the interview.

The Interview is as follows:

CNET: Can you provide an update on the PlayStation 3?

Hirai: The PlayStation 3 will launch in the North American market on November 17. Things are pretty much moving according to plan.

CNET: How does a scaled-down Electronic Entertainment Expo affect a company like yours? Was it a good thing to institute some changes in the format, or were you happy with the way it had been?

Hirai: E3 has about a 10-year, 11-year history, if I'm not mistaken. I think it's grown to a point where it became just such a massive show that we needed to take a look at what we were trying to accomplish with the show. We needed to see how effectively we can accomplish those goals. I think it was pretty much across the board in agreement that we should revise or relook at how E3 is structured.

CNET: Beyond the pricing and availability of the PlayStation 3,
one of the big pieces of news from this year's E3 was more information about Nintendo's new console, the Wii.
There were rumors that the Wii would be priced for less than $250. How did that affect the PlayStation 3?

Hirai: The pricing that we announced for the PlayStation 3 is a price that ultimately offers fantastic value to the consumers.
I think that we are offering a very good value for the consumers.
We look at our products having a 10-year life cycle, which we've proven with the PlayStation.
Therefore, the PlayStation 3 is going to be a console that's going to be with you again for 10 years.
We're not going to ask the consumers to suddenly buy another PlayStation console in five years' time
and basically have their investment go by the wayside.
So for all those reasons, I think at $599 we're offering a very good value to the consumers.

CNET: Are you saying that there won't be a PlayStation 4 within five years?

Hirai: Well, I think that if you look at the history of the way we've managed our console business,
we always try to hit a 10-year life cycle.
I can't speculate on when we might come out with a new console after PlayStation 3.
But my message is that once you become a family in the PlayStation family of products, you become a family member.
We make sure that we take care of you.

CNET: Going back to the question of the Nintendo console, it seems like its pricing is significantly lower than what the PlayStation 3, or the Xbox 360, will cost. Any concern that Nintendo's Wii pricing will undercut the market as people decide which console they want to buy?

Hirai: Some consumers will compare features or software offerings and decide that they may want to go with a different console. You also have to realize that we have a very strong, market-leading console called the PlayStation 2, which is at a very affordable price right now. Consumers will also understand that if you buy a PlayStation 2 right now, and you make some software investments, when you feel it's right to move onto PlayStation 3, those software titles aren't going to go by the wayside. Consumers will take that into consideration. I don't think price is the only determining factor when consumers make a choice in looking at their console purchase decisions.

CNET: Is there a danger that some consumers will buy PlayStation 3 just for the Blu-ray player and not the games?

Hirai: Consumers are going to look at the totality of what we offer in the PlayStation 3. Even if there was a consumer who decided to buy the PlayStation 3 perhaps as a Blu-ray player, I think that they will quickly realize the potential and the entertainment value of the fantastic content in true [high definition]. Any consumer would be hard pressed really not to try that functionality out.

CNET: Given the differences in pricing, which is fairly significant between Microsoft's Xbox 360 and the PlayStation 3, are there any chances of a PlayStation 3 down the line that doesn't have Blu-ray built in?

Hirai: The PlayStation 3 uses the Blu-ray as its storage medium for both games and for movies as well. We wanted to take advantage of the storage capacity that Blu-ray offers in terms of motion pictures and other content, but most importantly, for games as well. Our decision to include the Blu-ray player from day one in all of our PlayStation 3s was the right decision and, quite honestly, the only decision we can make.

Look at the massive amounts of data that's required to provide a truly immersive gaming experience in true HD. If you only have a DVD ROM drive, which can only go up to about 9GB or so, you're going to end up with a game that's going to have two or possibly even three discs. And then you're going to have to ask consumers to swap discs out or cache all the game onto the hard drive, which I think is an inconvenience--not to mention the fact that you're going to fill up a 20GB hard drive very quickly with some of these games. So trying to go without a Blu-ray drive in the PlayStation 3 really is a nonstarter.

CNET: There's been talk recently about production of the PlayStation 3--why hasn't production begun already?

Hirai: We haven't officially announced production on the PlayStation 3 just yet. But we are on track to deliver 2 million units for the launch period on a worldwide basis that we announced at E3. We are going to make sure that those units get out into the market.

CNET: It looks like there could be some shortages, particularly for the holiday season, even with the 2 million by the launch date and 4 million by the end of the year. So what do you say to consumers who are not going to be able to get ahold of one if they do want one?

Hirai: We are going to make every effort possible to make sure that we get as many units out into the market in the major territories as well as some of the smaller territories that we're launching in.

CNET: Have there been any sort of business lessons about filling customer demands and production issues from the things that Microsoft has dealt with regarding the Xbox 360?

Hirai: We don't really look at what our competition did or didn't do. We've had shortages in the past, and there is no guarantee that we will never have a shortage again in the future. But I think that we've learned many lessons over the years that allow us to look at production schedules, look at parts procurement, look at ways of shortening the lead time from the point of manufacture to ultimately getting the product into the retailers' shelves and into the hands of consumers. We're doing everything we can to make sure that we have the most efficient way of getting the product into the market.

CNET: By the time the holiday season moves around, Microsoft will have a yearlong head start. Not only does it have the head start in the console race, but it also has a year's advantage on coming out with new accessories really bolstering its online offerings. What is Sony's take? How can Sony keep up with that?

Hirai: If you look back in history, I think everybody realizes that we've never been first to bring a console to the market. PlayStation was not first and PlayStation 2 was not first to market. As a matter of fact, PlayStation Portable was not first to market in the portable space and PlayStation 3, as you mentioned, is not the first to market either.

It comes down to several things. One is the kind of software experience that the consumers will expect out of a next-generation console. I think we're going to be delivering that, both in terms of the lineup of PlayStation 3s as well as the fact that we're offering true HD gaming. We're also launching a console that doesn't require upgrades as you go along. Right out of the box it will play Blu-ray movies in true HD as well as old games. As far as accessories go, that's really a function of what kind of accessories you need to play or enjoy a particular game.

CNET: How many titles will you have by launch and how many by year's end?

Hirai: That's hard to try to pin down at this point. Everybody is looking at their entire portfolio of software offerings, and I think that the lineup of titles really is something that won't be locked down most likely until three to four weeks before launch.

Now, of that whole interview their was only that brief comment about the shelf life of Sony's products, and the "I can't comment on the PS4" follow up.
After reading the interview, you can see that centering the whole interview by titling the article, "Hirai suggests PS4 is more than five years away" is just media hype to grab your attention.

Assuming both of these interviews are truthful and congruent, then if Ken Kutaragi said the PS4 is coming within the next decade;
and Harai's statement indicated having every Sony Playstation last for 10 years or more would only make sense if he was talking about the shelf life, rather than the amount of years before the next product releases.

In other words, while the PS3 may not be outdated for another 10 years, it still remains very possible that the PS4 will be released well within the 10 years, perhaps even within 6 or 7 years.

Mike Summers

Featured Author

UnOfficial PS4 site

A comparison of the Sony PS3, and Microsoft's Xbox 360 by Andrew Lawrence

The current generation of game consoles is a market contested by three systems. Microsoft's Xbox 360, which was released in November 2005, Nintendo's Wii, due for release in November 2006, and the Sony PS3, also set to release in North America and Japan in November 06. This is a short guide for consumers interested in a comparison of the PS3 vs Xbox 360.

The two systems are remarkably similar in several ways. They both ship in two different lines - a Basic and a Premium version - and in both cases, the main difference between the two lines for each is the size of the hard drive. In the case of Xbox, the Core version does not have one, while the Premium system comes with a removable 20 GB hard drive. In the case of the PS3, the Basic edition has a 20 GB hard drive, and the Premium comes with a 60 GB drive. Given the similarities of the two lines for each system, from here on we shall just compare the premium version of both systems.

Microsoft's second console, the Xbox 360, is Internet-capable by standard 100 Mb ethernet port, has a relatively advanced on board Operating System (OS), features a triple-cored CPU for parallel processing, allowing a different processor to focus exclusively on different aspects of each game, has a powerful on-board graphics accelerator with an ATI GPU, has 5.1 surround sound support, DVD playback functionality, interfaces with an online matchmaking and multiplayer service, namely, Xbox Live, and with a software update, will support the HDTV progressive video resolution of 1920x1080 (AKA, 1080p). The system also has 3 USB 2.0 ports, which allow users to plug in additional peripherals, such as the Xbox Live Vision Camera, and wireless network adaptor. There is support for both wired and wireless controllers. Microsoft has also announced it will release an external Xbox HD-DVD drive for users who desire next-generation disk format support. The Xbox 360 ships with emulation software that allows users to play some original Xbox games on the new console. The results vary significantly, however, and a compatibility "profile" must first be released on a game-by-game basis via Xbox Live, before users can use old games. In some cases, the older games are able to take advantage of the significantly more powerful hardware available to them and will actually play better than on the original system. Others, however, do not lend themselves well to this feature, and run poorly, or in some cases, not at all, and thus, will not be supported by Microsoft on the 360.

The PS3 will also be Internet-capable via 1 Gb ethernet, and will offer many of the same features as Xbox Live Gold, using the tentatively named "PlayStation Network Platform" (PNP) service for multiplayer and matchmaking. Unlike Xbox Live Gold, however, Sony has announced that their service will not attract a subscription fee, but will instead be free to all users. It has a highly advanced "Cell" processor, which features eight independent "Synergistic Processing Elements" (SPE) for parallel computing. One of these is reserved for the OS, and another is redundant, making the console fault tolerant, should one of the units fail. The other six can be dynamically configured by each game to allow developers to optimise the console for the requirements of every individual game. The next-generation Blu-Ray Disk format is standard for all PS3 units, which also allows standard DVD and CD playback, as with the Xbox 360. The PS3 will support all standard HDTV resolutions, and the Premium version has HDMI output support. The PS3 has Wireless Bluetooth controllers, USB, Flash card and memory stick support, and 7.1 surround sound. Finally, Sony has said that nearly every PS1 and PS2 game will be natively compatible with the PS3, and has indicated that some Sega Genesis (AKA Sega Megadrive outside the US) games will also work out of the box. It will gradually make these games available for download directly to the on-board hard drive, for a fee payable via their PNP service.

When comparing the PS3 vs Xbox 360, it can be hard to make a choice. The PS3 is undoubtedly a more powerful machine, however, it costs much more than its competitor. It includes a host of features very similar to those offered by Microsoft, some of which are definitely implemented better. It is fair to expect generally superior performance from a PS3, so any choice boils down to the investment consumers are willing to make - or have already made, in the case of older games - for that experience.

About the Author

To find out more info on the PS3 including worlwide release dates you can find a full in depth report at Andrew Lawrence is the developer of E-bookz Online a site that promotes mostly info products on all subjects.

UnOfficial PS4 site