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PS3 Features That Will (and Won’t) Make it to the PlayStation 4

May 7, 2012 Written by Alex Osborn

With the PlayStation 4, Orbis (or whatever the heck you want to call it) looming on the horizon, there’s been a lot of speculation regarding what we’ll see from Sony and their new box. The PlayStation 3 has brought a number of new features – for better or worse – into the fray since its launch in 2006, and we can’t help but wonder which will make the cut for Sony’s next console. As such, Alex Osborn and Sebastian Moss have put together a list of some of the PS3′s most noteworthy features and broken down whether or not we think Sony will bring them to the next proper PlayStation.

Note: Features like Blu-ray and Trophy support have not been included in the list because, well, they’re basically a given at this point.

PlayStation Home

Alex Osborn: I will never forget the day Sony first revealed PlayStation Home. In a whirlwind of confusion and disbelief I found myself incredibly skeptical toward the online hangout hub, and with good reason. Now that it’s been out for a good three years or so, the service has yet to prove its worth, and I don’t think anyone will argue against the fact that such a day will never come. PlayStation Home was a colossal failure and one that Sony would be downright stupid to carry over to the PlayStation 4.

As such, I believe it is fair to say that no, PlayStation Home will not survive the transition to the Orbis. While it’s certainly possible that Sony may attempt to reboot it as a more robust and enjoyable hub for the next-gen, there’s just such a negative stigma that currently surrounds the service that anything even resembling Home would be a turnoff to most gamers. So, even if we do see some sort of evolution of the service, it would have to be so vastly different that it’s virtually unrecognizable. Sony has got to lay this one to rest.

Verdict: Won’t

Sebastian Moss: I think it’s fair to say that while Home has never been the big hit that Sony thought it would be, it still has a sizeable userbase that measures in the millions – a figure that can’t be said for a lot of Sony’s first party games. Having Home on PS4 would guarantee those millions upgrade, and Sony will certainly want to try and come up with as many reasons to make people upgrade as possible. There’s also a small niche of developers who are happy to keep pumping out Home games and content at a profit, and after the revamp the service has become a bit more interesting. The expensive and difficult part of Home – getting it all to connect and work – has been sorted, all Sony now has to do is let developers create content for the platform and take a percentage of the profits. In fact, I wouldn’t be that surprised if the PS4 integrated Home to a greater degree, with profile pictures being Home avatars, so that people buy shirts and hats and rubbish like that.

Verdict: Will

Remote Play

AO: The PS3′s remote play option has got to be one of the most criminally underused features of the system. Fortunately, it looks like Sony has been wisely evolving this idea of remote play by taking the concept to the next level, namely cross-platform play. With the PS Vita now essentially serving as your own portable PS3, the potential for inter-connectivity between the two is endless. Sony would be foolish to not take advantage of the link that the two devices share.

So does this mean that we’ll see remote play on the PS4? Well, yes and no. Yes in the fact that the connectivity between the Vita and Orbis will present, but no in terms of the actual labeling of the functionality. “Remote play” itself will likely be no more in favor of a more intimate level of interactivity. We’ve all seen what Nintendo is planning with the Wii U and its tablet controller, so what is stopping Sony from doing the same with the Vita and the PS4?

Verdict: Won’t in name, will in concept

SM: I’d just like to use this opportunity to once again state that Sony has seriously messed up the Vita’s Remote Play to the PS3. They promised way better remote play – hell, they even advertised it – so that really needs to be upgraded before someone complains to the Better Business Bureau.

As to the PS4, I hope that they will get their act together. A lot will be based on how many Vitas have been sold by 2013/14 when the PS4 launches – if it’s tanked then no developer is going to bother integrating Wii U-like features into their games. Even if it’s a success, I still don’t see it happening, as it requires two expensive devices, rather than one Wii U. At best, we can hope for proper Remote Play game streaming, and the occasional inter-connectivity gimmick on first party games.

Verdict: Will be there, but probably still crap

PlayStation Move

AO: This one has got to be the toughest. The Move controller has seen hardly any support since it launched, with most of the titles simply featuring it as a tacked-on control option. Aside from Sony’s upcoming title Sorcery, there is nothing even remotely appealing software-wise that has been built from the ground up with the Move in mind. So why isn’t this one a no-brainer?  Why wouldn’t Sony just scrap the Move and leave its failures in the past? It is important to remember that the Move itself is essentially two parts, the wand/navigation controllers and the PlayStation Eye camera. Sony saw a favorable amount of success with the PS Eye back in the days of the PlayStation 2, so it would be hard to imagine them abandoning motion controls entirely in the next-gen – as much as I desperately want them to.

So, I wouldn’t be surprised if we see a new and improved Eye camera that bears a striking resemblance to Microsoft’s Kinect. After all, Sony’s mantra as of late has been “Copy the Competition” so it certainly isn’t out of the question. Will we see that goofy looking wand and navigation attachment? I’m guessing no.

Verdict: Won’t see wand, will see revamped PS Eye

SM: I have to completely disagree there – the Move is a brilliant piece of tech that is almost 1:1. The only real problem with the hardware is that the PS Eye is worse than a $3 webcam and can’t spot it half the time. Yes to changing the Eye, no to losing the Move. Both gives them the ultimate package. Plus, the Move already has an install base of 8-or-so million, which Sony would be silly to just ignore. Add that to the fact that Zindagi are making a Move game for next-gen platforms, and it seems like that’s the plan.

Verdict: Will see wand, will see revamped PS Eye

SixAxis

AO: When Sony first launched the PS3, they were all about the controller’s SixAxis functionality. I’m sure I don’t need to remind you how the story ends, as the company quickly remedied the gimmick by relaunching the controller as the DualShock 3, complete with both rumble and tilt controls. While we hardly see the SixAxis controls used in today’s games, I’m pretty confident that Sony will bring it over to the PS4′s standard controller. After all, indie games like Flower and Journey made excellent use of the added control option.

Not only that, but it clearly doesn’t appear to be all that much of a hassle for them to simply throw it in there. Heck, look at how they’ve managed to cram just about every control option possible in the PS Vita. Sony likes to cover as many bases as possible, and since they’ve already got the tech locked down, there’s no real reason to remove it. SixAxis isn’t obtrusive and certainly won’t do the controller any harm by being there.

Verdict: Will

SM: Thing is, it is a hassle to put it in there. It costs money to add the accelerometer to every single controller, and they have to include one with every single PS4, as well as selling them separately. Sony can’t afford to support a gimmick just so people can play Flower (Journey hardly used it). Developers didn’t embrace it this gen, they won’t next gen.

Verdict: Won’t

Backwards Compatibility

AO: At this point in the game, anyone who is still holding out hope that you’ll be able to pop a PSone, PS2 or PS3 disc in your PS4 and actually play it needs a reality check. Sony abandoned PS2 backwards compatibility early in the life of the PS3 and started releasing high-def collections of the popular PS2 titles. Since there is a huge market for re-releasing games in this fashion, don’t be surprised to see them pull a similar trick next generation.

It is also worth noting that the move to the digital space is growing ever popular, with both Sony’s PSone and PS2 libraries beginning to fill out nicely on the PlayStation Store. Once again, if there is no backwards compatibility in the PS4, then they’ll be able to get you to repurchase all of this content digitally, earning them a pretty penny. It also goes without saying that by not building this feature into the system, they’ll be able to save money on the hardware and possibly even sell it for a reasonable price at launch. Hey, one can always dream, right?

Verdict: Won’t

SM: I think there are two things that will stop PS3 backwards compatibility – the money on upgrades, and the technical impossibility. If rumored specs are anything to go by, then Sony are moving away from the cell, which would make backwards compatibility very difficult. If they stick with cell, then I still think they’ll want to sell people digital content and upgrades, so it still won’t be there.

Verdict: Probably won’t

PlayStation Plus

AO: I know a lot of gamers who swear by PlayStation Plus. I personally am not a subscriber, but I do see the allure. Sony has done a great job of getting people to pay for their online service and avoid an onslaught of complaints similar to those that Xbox gamers have been leveling at Microsoft for Xbox Live Gold. The main reason for this is simple, Sony still allows gamers to play online with their friends for free. By marketing PS Plus as an “exclusive service” rather than a necessary yearly subscription, they’ve won over a large chunk of the gaming public.

Because of this, there is really no reason to think that Sony would cancel the service when the PS4 inevitably rolls out. There are way too many gamers hooked on all of the free content and Sony is undoubtedly making a decent amount off of subscription fees. In the end it looks like it’s a win-win situation and you’d be insane to turn your back on something like that.

Verdict: Will

SM: Yeah, I don’t see why not, it makes sense and it’s probably profitable. We’ll probably see more and more PS+ content become PS4 stuff only, to ensure the few million subscribers have to upgrade. I just hope that they don’t also turn it into an XBL-style service where you have to pay to play online.

Verdict: Will, Probably Will be More Constrained

Well there you have it, our predictions on what Sony will and won’t be bringing to the next PlayStation. Agree with our thoughts? Disagree with every ounce of your being? Lets us know what you think we’ll Sony pack in the PS4 in the comments below.