[BLOG] PS4 REVEAL AKA HYPE MACHINE IMMUNITY
(This Week in Blackness) — The Playstation 4 was announced on Tuesday. I was tasked with reporting the details of the press conference. I was supposed to wield my love of videogames into a breathless description of every succulent inch of Sony’s Playstation 4 Reveal.
Unfortunately. I do not care. The Hype Machine has no affect on me. Simply put I am not in a position to be swayed by ‘new hotness’. We are in an unprecedented time. We are deluged with games and media. Everyone with an Xbox 360 or Playstation 3 can rattle off the names of at least 10 games they were not able to play for logistical reasons. Smartphones and tablets have claimed a sizable chunk of our gaming real estate. For the first time in my life I am neither bored with my current console nor looking forward to the next. Historically new consoles arrive like electronic cavalry, saving us from dated graphics and developer ambitions outrunning the hardware. We begin to drift away from current hardware, our excitement for the future pushing us forward.
In this instance, we are currently living in the future. Our web of smartphones, laptops, and tablets have given many of us command center capability. As a result, the requirements for a new console are drastically different. The morale boost of buying shiny new equipment cannot be denied. Seeing a trailer for an upcoming game raises the same goosebumps it would if you were seated in a movie theater. However, for many of us it is now a matter of Fit Factor above Wow Factor. It is critically important that the new console we decide to purchase fit within the current architecture of our existing entertainment centers. It is less important that a new Infamous is coming than my system understanding its position within the heirarchy. A new system has to allow itself to merely be plugged in as an upgrade. I use the term ‘merely’ intentionally. Despite the excitement surrounding our electronics and their natural upgrades, we purchase them, import settings for 25 minutes and are off using our new device like the old one. A fact that bruises the Machine but is the only fact that matters.
In essence we need our next generation consoles to function like the yearly iPad update.
The games will invariably play similar to this generation’s offering, where even average games are following a entertaining film-style template. The streaming services are universal, using a smartphone or tablet and not requiring your Playstation 4. The visual separation between the consoles should be minor. With the Playstation 4 adopting traditional PC architecture games will be easier to develop and lessen the need to study which console presents the best version. The ability to play a game mid-download will be a convenient, but simply providing what you are familiar with faster. A sleep mode detailed in the presentation that would minimize startup exists to make your game console be perpetually ready like your smartphone. Streaming cloud service Gaikai will only be as effective as its integration into the command center will allow.
The immediate prospects for the system are only as good as its ability to function with what exists and what has existed before. This makes the announcement that the system won’t be backward compatible with Playstation 3 discs bittersweet. While this could potentially keep costs down it is disheartening given the Playstation 3’s high quality exclusives including the Playstation 2 HD Remastered Edition games sprinkled across 2012. Details on how to remedy this issue are sketchy and the possibility of having to spend the next few months scouting the internet and trade shows for information grind the Hype Machine to a halt.
Now do not take this as negative commentary. Just words from an ignored demographic. New consoles are marketed aggressively singular. Framed in sparkling light for the electronic-starved consumer, they are touted as the saviors of your living room. I speak from the position of those who have already saved their living room. The person who is already connected and operating firmly inside the Matrix, deluged with media, a Netflix queue 100 strong, a stack of unplayed games 10 high, and an unhealthy obsession with Subway Surfer filling his commute. At the end of the day you will purchase it, plug it in, import settings for 25 minutes and be off using it much like the old one. Here’s hoping that Sony realizes this as well.