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PSLS Investigates: A PS4 Rumor Roundup, Analysis

December 13, 2012 Written by Sebastian Moss

For the penultimate issue of PSM3, the publication looked at “The 15 game-changing features of the PS4″. It’s an interesting read, but missing a lot of recent rumors, as well as some context. In an effort to provide a fuller picture, PSLS analyzes the 15 ‘features’, as well as several other PlayStation 4 rumors.

PSM3 rumors:

1) It’s unlikely to be called PS4…

This is quite a common rumor that keeps springing up, namely because of the fact that the PS Vita isn’t numbered and due to the PS Orbis rumor. Of course, the PS Vita isn’t numbered as Sony didn’t want to call it the PSP2 after the lackluster support it was perceived to have. Orbis is also (possibly) the codename… as in not the final name, so its (possible) existence means nothing. PSM3 argues that 4 sounds tired, but that never stopped the iPhone 4, 4S and 5.

“The Japanese number ‘four’ is pronounced ‘shi’ which is the same as death… In itself, this doesn’t rule out a ‘PS4′, since Japanese people tend to use an alternate pronunciation, but it’s worth noting.” They basically debunk themselves here, and Kotaku notes that people in Japan could call the PS4 “PlayStation Four” rather than “PlayStation 4″. Update: And, as PSLS’ Japan Correspondent Heath Hindman has pointed out in the comments, it doesn’t matter at all anyway as it would be pronounced “Pee-esu-foaa.”

2) How will games look?

Not enough is really said here to analyze, other than the rather obvious guess that it’ll be able to run games like Star Wars 1313. They then mention the PS4′s rumored specs – AMD, 4Gb RAM – and say this could mean a performance leap of around 5 times over the PS3. However, with feature 5) they talk about different possible RAM specs.

3) PS4 is unlikely to run in 4K ‘Ultra-HD’ resolution

PSM3 makes a valid argument here – not only are 4K TVs incredibly expensive now, but the processing requirements would be immense. Like they say, at most it’ll support 4K movies, but don’t expect games to do it.

4) It’ll lock out pre-owned and used games

Here, PSM3 repeats of the Kotaku rumor from March, although they seem to slightly misinterpret it. Kotaku suggested that pre-owned games will have some features limited, something that’ll presumably be unlockable with a pass, similar to the current online-pass system.

It is important to note that SCEA’s Jack Tretton is allegedly opposed to blocking used games.

5) 4GB of RAM. Or more…

“Early rumors suggest PS4 will have 2 to 4Gb of RAM…if Microsoft opt for 8Gb of RAM, it may force Sony’s hand”. Basically, nothing is really known about the RAM. Stay tuned.

6) Flash in the plan

The notion that the PS4 will include 16GB of flash memory comes from PSX-sense.nl, with the rumor being that it’ll be used for OS based loading due to flash memory being far faster than a standard hard drive. PSM3 likens it to the 16GB European Super Slim PS3 (it’s actually 12GB), although PSX-Sense actually believe that the 16GB flash will be accompanied by a 320GB+ HDD.

7) There’s no going back

Again, Kotaku is linked as the originator of this rumor – that the PS4 won’t play PS3 games – and considering everything points towards Sony moving away from the cell, this seems very likely.

8) You’ll need to register games to your PSN account

This is almost a complete repeat of number 4), this time adding the rumor that you’ll have to register games to your PSN account (originally rumored by Kotaku). It’s a horrifying thought, and one that raises a lot of questions about what people without internet on their PS4 are meant to do. However, considering the size of the used games market, and how much Sony and game publishers feel they are missing out on, it may not be entirely out of the question.

9) The rise and rise of PS+

Less rumor here, more prediction – PS+ is very popular and very successful, so Sony could use it to offset the cost of the PS4. It’s an interesting idea, and certainly one Sony might consider, although due to the great value of PS+ it can’t be something that brings in tremendous profit, so “you might pay £99 for PS4, but commit to a 24-month PS+ service at, say, £12 a month” seems rather ambitious. Especially when that makes £387, and they later speculate the PS4 costs more than that at launch.

10) PS Move evolves – augmented interaction

“Our guess is that Sony will include a camera and PS Move-compatible controller with every PS4, so it’s a core function.” This is very possible, Sony has mostly failed to capture the motion-control or camera market, while Nintendo and Microsoft have raked in billions. However, the costs of including those hardware features would be astronomical, and force the price of the PS4 up, or force Sony to take a larger hit with each sale, neither of which seem like something they’d want to do.

PSM3 also mention tongue control (here’s the original source they forgot) and 3-person SimulView (here’s the original source they forgot), but even though we found them, we find them rather unlikely.

11) Cloud gaming… and a new way to play

PlayStation Cloud Gaming is absolutely coming, nobody doubts that, although no one is sure how exactly Gaikai and Sony plan to charge you for the service. Free-to-play? Subscription? One-off fees? We know that they’re at least experimenting with ads, but PSM3 says that there could be an entirely new way to charge gamers. Color us intrigued.

12) In-game ads and new ways to pay

The possibility of in-game ads interrupting your gaming is based off of patents, so they should be taken with a hefty pinch of salt. With the increased costs of next gen development, anything is possible, but it’s too early to say that this is a ‘PS4 feature’.

13) It’ll use a Quad-Core AMD chip

Again based off of reports from June, this rumor is nothing new – the PS4 is thought to include ‘off-the-shelf’ tech that is easy to develop for, meaning that ports don’t suck and developers don’t lose their hair at an early age.

14) The games are well underway

Yup. Don’t see how anyone can argue with this, everyone has been reporting on developers listing next-gen projects for quite a while now. PSM3 highlights a Sony Santa Monica job listing for a new IP that mentions ‘gameplay features, magic distribution, character balance and ramping’ (here’s the original source they forgot).

“Guerrilla shipped Killzone 3 in 2011, and the upcoming Vita port is rumored to be handled by Sony Cambridge.” – Actually, it’s not a port, it’s a new game called Killzone Mercenary, and Sony Cambridge have been confirmed to be the developer. But yes, GG are thought to be working on a next gen game (here’s the original source they forgot).

“Naughty Dog president Evan Wells called the prospect of working on PS4 ‘terrifying’ – a tacit acknowledgment of its existence.” Ok, please allow me to be rather annoyed here. The article links to this CVG post, which says:

Naughty Dog’s cinematics animation lead, Josh Scherr, called the challenge to top last year’s PS3 game of the year “terrifying”.

So – different person, different context and no tacit acknowledgement of its existence. Face, meet palm.

15) When will it come out, and how much will it cost?

“We can’t see Sony’s machine selling for much less than £400-£500 (and even that would likely be at a loss).” Considering all the problems the PS3 had with its £425 launch price, and that now a) the PlayStation brand is weaker and b) Sony is far poorer, this seems quite hard to imagine. Of course, if the PS4 does come with a ton of RAM, a camera and some Moves, that might be unavoidable.

“When will PS4 launch? While some rumours suggest early 2014, we suspect a late 2013 release is quite possible.” We agree, a late 2013 release is highly possible, especially when you consider how Sony’s PS3 2013 blockbusters like The Last of Us are all crammed into the beginning of the year.

“Those with E3 2013 invitations are already being told: ‘This is the year. This is the E3 you don’t want to miss,’ adding, ‘It’s what’s next now’.” By invitations, they probably mean the E3 website, but that could just as easily mean the 720, or just be good ol’ hype.

DualPixels rumors:

The next rumor we’re going to take a look at is this one by DualPixels. At the time, we decided to not cover the rumor as it seemed rather untrue, but coverage and general belief in it has prevailed, so it’s time for us to share our thoughts. The rumor states:

Sony is near the middle end part of their Project Orbis, their next generation PS4. It will not be called Playstation 4, teams have started to call the final name as Omni. Omni will reflect their new hardware and content delivery philosophy. Omni will be “very capable” of doing modern day graphics compared to a Direct X 11 level of technology like Unreal Engine 4 and Frostbite 2. Compared to Wii U, it is better, but not the biggest leap in the world according to developer friends of mine. The key is the Omniviewer, a thin, lite and slick head mounted autosteroptic display that can track the users head and presents a 360 image view with semi transparent AMOLED screens. This can turn any TV into a 3D TV, as well as add extra augmented reality information outside of the TV screen. One application from an entertainment perspective seeing movies in 2k, 4k or IMAX resolutions as their original size where you have to move your head to look at the full picture being displayed. Can also synch with the Vita. The new controllers whether it’s the Dual-Moves or the Classic DualShock will have pulse sensors in the grips for biofeedback gameplay. Plans are a Basic Unit with 160 gigs and just the system with controller at $350-$399 and one with the Omniviewer and a pack-in game for $450-$499. Aims are for a September 2013 launch.

This ‘Omniviewer’ sounds almost too good to be true, and that’s probably because it is. The closest Sony has to such a device that is on the market is the Sony HMZ headset. It’s just a headset, yet cost $799, not the $100 this suggests. It’s a shame, because the Prototype-SR does sound awesome.

Far too much about the display is simply unrealistic for a 2013 launch, including the ‘semi transparent’ screen. It’s also hard to believe that the console will be called PlayStation Omni, but Sony allowed that web domain to be snapped up by someone in Brazil the day after this rumor was published.

Let’s continue:

Omni is also part of their philosophy with the new OmniCloud, the new version of Gaikai. This service will not only cloud stream PS1, PS2 and select PS3 games to Playstation Certified devices but will also allow every digital and retail purchase to have access to a copy on the cloud. Basically, you buy one game, you can use it on any Plyastation device. Direct hardware Backwards Compatibility will be available by a $70 – $99 dongle that is plugged into the Omni that contains a PS3 on a chip with Cell to run games.

First, it’s a bit unlikely that Sony are working on a service called the OmniCloud, when a trademarked company already exists with that name. It also seems that Gaikai’s plans are to be on every platform possible, rather than just PS Certified devices. A backwards compatible dongle for $70-99? Don’t be stupid – a PS3 costs $250+ at its current size. Suggesting it could be crammed into a dongle is just ludicrous, especially at that price.

More:

Known first party games in development for Playstation Omni are: Next Gen Uncharted, Next Gen Siren, The Boydguard, Wipeout Omni, Bump In the Night, Killzone 4, Gran Turismo Prologue, Next Gen Media Molecule, Omni Fitness.

Games like a next gen Uncharted, Killzone and GT are pretty damn likely, so are easy guesses. As for Siren, we haven’t heard much about this franchise since its 2008 release, and the developer moved on to develop Gravity Rush. They are now thought to be developing Gravity Rush 2. As for WipEout, Sony sadly closed Sony Liverpool.

Ninja Theory is also pitching Capcom an Onimusha sequel for Wii U/Omni/XBoxNext as a “Ookami with guts”.

Ninja Theory: “We are not working on an Onimusha game. Any rumours surrounding this are untrue.”

This rumor is blatantly untrue. Don’t believe it.

SemiAccurate rumors:

SA claim that the PS4 is currently codenamed Thebes and will come out in spring or fall 2014.

One of the main things that made the Orbis codename so plausible is that orbis.scedev.net works, just as the Vita’s codename ‘NGP’ worked for ngp.scedev.net. thebes.scedev.net does not work. Meanwhile, SemiAccurate has a history of questionable claims and rumors, which means that you have to question the rumor.

As we get closer to the inevitable release of the PS4, these rumors are going to keep coming, and, as Sony aren’t exactly famed for secrecy, a lot of them will be true. The vast majority, however, will be utterly false. Be sure to second guess any rumor that is spread, and question how exactly a publication benefits from telling you something that gets them hits.