On Feb. 20, 2013, Sony Corporation (NYSE:SNE) announced the release of their latest PlayStation console. The PlayStation 4 is (evidently) the fourth iteration of the PlayStation series, and the first non-portable console that Sony will be releasing in seven years. As usual, Sony will be upgrading the hardware of their device, offering the very cutting edge in graphics and processing technology. The video game industry has evolved into a different beast, however, and at-home consoles aren't as popular as they used to be. Sony has fundamentally altered their flagship device in order to better compete, but will its efforts lead to another golden age of gaming?
Sony has never been stingy with its hardware. Its gaming devices have always been serious machines, capable of chugging through massive amounts of data and displaying cutting-edge graphics for each respective generation. This time around, nothing has changed. The Sony PlayStation 4 will feature:
- x84 AMD "Jaguar" 8-core processor: This is a shift from the former 6-core "cell" processor used in the PlayStation 3; this processor is straight from a gaming computer. Currently this represents the very pinnacle of gaming hardware, and Sony's choice to use a PC-type processor will make it easier for developers to create games for its system.
- 8 gigabytes DDR5 RAM: The very latest "Graphics Double Data Rate" (Version 5) will not fail to impress. 8 gigabytes is a beefy amount of processing; this is what you would find in the highest-end gaming machines currently available.
- 1.84 teraflop GPU: This blows any current video card out of the water. This is a massive amount of graphics processing that Sony specifically designed its system for. Expect graphics and particle physics like you have never seen before.
- USB 3.0: The latest universal serial bus, capable of transmitting data at 5 gigabytes per second; 10 times faster than USB 2.0. This will also allow the controller to recharge that much faster.
- Blu-ray/DVD optical drive: Although Blu-ray isn't the most popular medium around, Sony long focused on making its system Internet-only. This would have meant all content purchases would be through the Internet. I think their decision to include an optical drive is solid; although the cloud is growing, it hasn't quite gotten there yet. People still want to stick a disc inside their console.
- Dual Shock 4 Controller: This is where a lot of changes have been made. The latest Dual Shock will feature a "share" button. When pressed, the button allows you to review your last several moments of gameplay to show a friend. This is perfect for when you do something remarkable in a game. The controller will also have a touchpad. Last but not least, there is a "light bar" that shines outwards from the controller; it allows you to use the controller in a motion-sensitive way. The DS4 will be the most high-tech controller to date.
The software on a gaming console is vital. The operating system must be fluid and capable of providing a wide variety of digital media in order to satisfy the modern consumer. Sony has chosen to include a host of new features in their software.
- PlayStation Vita connectivity: The PlayStation Vita is a portable PlayStation console that Sony released back in late 2011. Through the miracle that is the internet, you will be able to activate your PlayStation 4 and have it stream games to your Vita. While this may sound difficult for such a weak device to handle, the actual processing is still done on the PlayStation 4. This feature is designed for when your television is in use. Although not highly practical, the freedom to "game on" even when the TV is being used by other people is remarkable.
- High Speed Streaming: While consoles have allowed you to stream games from the internet for a while now, the PlayStation 4 wants to do it better. You will be able to play games even while they download, and Sony promises a smooth experience.
- On/Off: Every console can be turned on and off. What Sony is promising, however, is entirely different. During the press release they announced that you will be able to simply turn off your console in the middle of any game, and resume playing upon turning the console back on. Right where you left off. This is what dreams are made of.
The world, and the gaming industry, is becoming more "social." What this means is that people are becoming more and more connected digitally. Sony knows this, of course, and is striving to make its latest device as "social" as possible. It will feature social media integration coded by the best in the business. The "share" button on the controller will also allow you to share your best gaming moments within seconds. Those who attended the conference marveled at the ease of this feature. The PlayStation 4 will be as social as social gets, as Sony understands the trends within the industry and is actively gearing their latest console towards them.
What Will Happen to the Stock?
Although Sony has been losing money for three straight quarters, its board has been optimistic about 2013. Fueled by a weaker yen, the company's exports will be worth more. The PlayStation 3 was released back in November 2006. For a while after the stock experienced hearty growth, even though the console didn't sell that well initially. There very well may be a similar trend with Sony stock when the PS4 is released this holiday season.
Andrew House, the current president of Sony, once said that the "consumer is changing us." Looking at the PlayStation 4, you know he wasn't kidding. Sony is on pace to create a sleek and powerful gaming device suited to the needs of modern gamers. From what we know, the product seems refined and innovative in every respect, and will likely sell very well during the 2013 holiday season. Going long Sony until that earnings report seems like a safe bet.