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What the PlayStation 4 Needs to Lead the Next Generation

January 10, 2012 Written by Jonathan Leack

PlayStation 4 rumors have been heating up as of late, with many people expecting its long-awaited announcement sometime this year. It’s inevitable as the PlayStation 3 is now over five years old, and Nintendo has put pressure on Sony with the debut of the Wii U at E3 last year. It’s not a matter of if but when, and as we learned this generation, a strong launch can cement a console’s lead. Below we’ve listed what Sony can do to make sure the PlayStation 4 not only starts, but remains, on top.

Keep That Strong First-Party Arsenal

Uncharted 2: Among Thieves -- the nuclear warhead of exclusives.

Sony currently has more first-party studios than any competitor, and it’s much easier to have a good showing at conventions when you have a powerful list of exclusives. In an age where more than 90% of games are multiplatform, the few exclusives that do exist can make all the difference. Continuing to invest in developers like Naughty Dog and making sure second parties don’t jump ship and follow the footsteps of Insomniac Games is one way to make sure Sony has a leg-up over the competition. If you ask virtually anyone who only owns a PS3 out of all current-generation consoles how they’re able to stick to only one platform, chances are you’ll be pointed to a list of exclusives. Case in point.

Ditch the XrossMediaBar

I swear it looked futuristic 5 years ago...

The XrossMediaBar is a slick interface, but it’s beginning to show its age. Navigating from one section to another sometimes feels like it takes more steps than it should. While the PlayStation 3′s XMB is nearly the same as when it launched, Xbox Live has evolved almost on a yearly basis. Changing it frequently might not be the answer, but people like to see visual improvements, and, if nothing else, simply optimizing the layout will lead to convenience and happy consumers. The PlayStation Vita has an interface of its own which is more modern and streamlined, so chances are the PlayStation 4 will follow suit.

A Launch Line-Up That Leaves a Mark

One of several ways to successfully CQC the competition.

It’s hard to forget the days when people said the PlayStation 3 had no games. It’s funny to look back now that its library is arguably the most diverse of the generation, but back in 2006 it wasn’t. Multiplatform games will be there to greet the console assuming the hardware is there to support it, but getting those first-party studios involved early on is what will make the difference. Waiting four years to see Gran Turismo was something we hope to never see again. If you come out swinging, it makes everything afterward much more manageable.

Keep it Easy for Developers

Doesn't look very special... because it isn't.

The Cell Processor has been a double-edged sword. On the one hand, it has provided the power to produce games as stunning as Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception, but on the other hand multiplatform games have suffered, and development teams have complained about difficulties. The Cell Processor isn’t necessarily worse than your average CPU architecture, it’s just different. Since this is an industry where development time is everything, the Cell Processor has been more of a hindrance than anything. Similarly, having only 512 megabytes of memory with only 256 dedicated has been an obstacle for years now, and the reason we still haven’t seen a solution for cross-game voice communication. That alone speaks for itself.

But developers are finally getting used to the Cell, so sticking to the same system with an upgraded architecture wouldn’t be too bad. Neither would simply using hardware that developers are more comfortable. Trying to change the game too much and use a radically different architecture only caused problems with the Cell, and could once again cause problems on PS4.

If People Have to Work Overtime to Buy It, It’s Too Expensive

$599 U.S. Dollars!

If there was one thing that has prevented the PlayStation 3 from ever reaching its sales expectations, it would have to be its original pricing model. Kaz Hirai’s announcement of $599 US Dollars will forever live in infamy, and if Sony wants to make things more difficult for the competition, they’ll need to launch the PlayStation 4 with a reasonable price tag. $299 is probably asking for too much, especially when Sony is known for going above and beyond with hardware, but $399 is about right. Families don’t have thousands of dollars to spend on Christmas gifts, so making the PlayStation 4 the affordable “it” item to have during the holidays should be the goal in mind.

So what do you think Sony needs to do to be as competitive as possible next generation? Share your thoughts below.