PS4 – The Console We Have All Been Waiting For?
The PlayStation 4 has finally been revealed. Though we still do not know the exact details of the hardware it will have, nor do we know what the actual PlayStation 4 will look like and how much it will cost. What we do know so far is what the key features of the PlayStation 4 will be, what the design choices behind its hardware are and what the games on the console will look like at launch. Pixel Judge being the PC orientated site it is, the focus of this article is to discuss the implications for the PC platform; both good and bad.
The term PC was used a lot in the early parts of the PlayStation 4 reveal, the reason for this is that the PlayStation 4 is completely designed using PC hardware as a foundation. As they describe it, they took PC architecture and “supercharged it”, there are two big reasons for Sony deciding to do this and break away from the CELL technology they had used on the PlayStation 3. The first one is really obvious, namely that many developers were dissatisfied with how complicated it is to program games for the CELL, the biggest complainer about this is well known within the PC platform – Gabe Newell. The second reason is perhaps less obvious and is more a statement about how important the PC has become as a gaming platform once more.
There was a time, some years ago, when more and more gaming press were shouting “PC is dying”. Justified or not, the reason for them shouting this had to do with more developers turning their backs on the PC platform. However, in recent years the majority of these developers have not only returned to the PC platform, they have even redoubled the amount of effort and focus they put into the platform. As a result, Sony wants the PlayStation 4 to be able to fit in with the PC platform as easily as possible, in that sense they wanted to make it possible for PC games developers to be able to port their games as easily as possible to the PlayStation 4. At the same time, they also want to make PlayStation 4 more desirable as the main development platform, as it is now easier to port from PlayStation 4 to PC as well. For PC gamers this is fantastic news, as it means we should get more games that are developed with the PC as the main platform and we should also get better quality PlayStation 4 to PC ports.
The first consequence of the architecture of the PlayStation 4 can already be seen as well with the appearance of Activision-Blizzard at the Sony conference to announce that Diablo 3 is being ported to the PlayStation 4 and PlayStation 3. Blizzard also announced that this is just their first step in their path to world domination. We should not be surprised if more PC-only developers follow suit, though there are not many left anyway. At the moment this only seems like good news as it means that franchises which were PC exclusives will now get more sales across the PlayStation 4 and this in turn will up the production budget of future games from these companies, such as Blizzard, meaning that, for example, Diablo 4 should be even better as a result. The only negative that could happen here is if these games perform better in terms of sales on the PlayStation 4. This could then lead to less PC orientated games and more PlayStation 4 to PC ports.
Bad news perhaps for gamers who own an Nvidia card and Nvidia themselves; the PlayStation 4 is designed around the Havok physics engine, so any games ported from PlayStation 4 to PC will not be using Nvidia’s PhysX engine, but instead the Havok physics engine. While the PlayStation 3 could run physics engines, it did struggle with it; as demonstrated by Star Wars: The Force Unleashed 1 and 2. This means that the PlayStation 4 will be the first console to properly support physics engines and it might be possible for Nvidia and game developers to get PhysX to run on the PlayStation 4, though I would not hold my breath for it.
Dat polygon count!
Hardware and graphical elements aside, it is interesting to see how Sony is trying to make their platform as interconnected as possible to both the PC and Smartphone platforms. First of all, the new controller even has a Share button right on the controller, this share button will allow you to edit captured game footage from your current game session and upload it directly to Facebook, if Sony’s claim is true, then the quality of this upload will even be in HD. In addition to this, Sony also discussed some form of new PlayStation community site that can be accessed through all other platforms, including Smartphones and PC browsers.
Overall, the PlayStation 4 is shaping up to be a very appealing console to any gamer. It has features that both hardcore and casual gamers will be able to appreciate. In addition, the PlayStation 4 will open the door to better PC games with the hardware barrier raised higher (finally) than what current PC hardware is capable of. We can also expect to see better quality PlayStation 4 to PC ports and hopefully developers also see the advantages to developing for the PC and then porting it to the PlayStation 4. For now we can wait with eager ears for the price to be revealed, and with eager eyes to see what the actual PlayStation 4 console will look like.