Though Sony's PlayStation 4 announcement event revealed rather little on the hardware front—no pictures, no price, few specs (other than AMD APU inside)… surprise!—making the first hour a rather lackluster bore, Sony showed PS4's true chops when it came to software. Sony CEO Andrew House kicked off the event with a grandiose speech that made it clear that the company's focus was going to be completely consumer-oriented, and that the PS4 was going to meet the needs of the next-gen gamer. He quickly mentioned that Sony would continue to support indie titles—a wise decision, since Xbox Live hasn't exactly been an indie-friendly platform—and experimentation of new financial models, such as free-to-play and episodic.
Recent tech trends have swayed towards social media and personalization, and Sony's no exception. Using the Dualshock 4's 'Share' button, players can easily livestream gameplay footage, as the PS4 features dedicated always-on video compression and video decompression. Users will also be able to personalize their PS4 experience through their likes and dislikes, and in the future, according to Lead System Architect Mark Cerny, the PS4 may even go the Big Brother route and "predict" what games a user might like and pre-download them, allowing a user to instantaneously play games right after purchase.
Sony's acquirement of game streaming service Gaikai was the crux of the two-pronged effort. Gaikai CEO Dave Perry took to the stage to discuss Sony's plans for social media and streaming content. Perry's announced the company's partnership and UStream and Facebook, though the company didn't really elucidate the details of these relationships. Using Gaikai's technology, the PS4 will allow gamers to preview games before having to buy through instantaneous streaming. The PS4 will allow broadcasting of gameplay footage and spectating. Gaikai technology will even allow your friends to remotely step-in and take control of a game, lest you have trouble on a portion of the game. Despite the impressive showing, Perry ended his portion of the presentation on a low note, announcing that the PS4 didn't feature backwards compatibility "right now", meaning gamers hoping to revisit older titles are going to have to pull out their old consoles or prepare their wallets.
The event took a turn towards the positive when Sony began announcing games. Drawing on the power of exclusives and its IP, Sony's started its games portion with its arms swinging. No doubt the company hopes to avoid the fate that the PS Vita and competitor Wii U have been doomed to with a lackluster lineup.
Beside's Cerny's pet project Knack, a brand new IP reminiscent of Pixar's works, Sony confirmed Ubisoft's Watch Dogs, Bungie's Destiny, a new Square Enix Final Fantasy,new Capcom fantasy Deep Down, Killzone: Shadow Fall, infamous: Sword Son, and Evolution Studios's DriveClub. Jonathan Blow's The Witness, giving Sony some indie cred, was announced as a timed exclusive. Blizzard took to the stage for a company-first console reveal and, no doubt to the fire-setting ire of PC gamers across the world, announced that Diablo III would be coming to PS3 and PS4. The news wasn't too much of a shock, considering that the developer hasn't exactly been secretive about its experiments with Diablo III on console. Blizzard's motivation behind the game's simplified UI also suddenly makes a little more sense.
All Diablo drama aside, though Sony's announcement event shocked no one, the company's proved itself to be a strong contender in the next console generation race, if not by innovation, then by the sheer force of its great title lineup.