Yes, this video is exactly what you think it is.

This is Sony’s cryptic little hint that after hearing endless rumors for the past year, they are finally going to officially announce the successor to the PS3, the currently codenamed PS Orbis, on February 20th. While I’m not thrilled about the idea of having to buy another console in the near future  – especially considering how much the PS3 cost at launch – it isn’t exactly something that has snuck up on us and taken us by surprise.

Sony and Microsoft have both been chomping at the bit for a while now to release a new console and though they both sort of informally committed to a ten year plan with their current generation  I don’t think anyone thought they would keep to their word. If the word on the street is accurate, we’ll see the Orbis hit the market sometime this holiday season which is pretty much the norm for consoles these days. The PS3 was released in November 2006, the 360 a year earlier in November 2005, and the Wii within about a week of the PS3 in November 2006 as well.  The WiiU was released last year in November. It stands to reason that you’ll be able to own the Orbis by November of this year. Just nine months, folks. (Though whether or not you’ll be able to get one remains to be seen. Console shortages aren’t  always just a Nintendo problem.)

Since it’s release in 2006, the current console has had a few rough patches but it’s prove itself as a very solid console. It’s my favorite by far and I own every member of the current generation. But this holiday season it will have been seven years since the PS3 launched and in the grander scheme of console lifespans… seven years isn’t bad. Granted, it’s nothing compared to the PS2 which just ended production last year in December and enjoyed some thirteen years on the market with solid sales in both consoles and games until the very end. Like it’s predecessor, the PS3 under went a number of design changes throughout it’s life span.

That one there in the middle? That one's my baby. And I couldn't be prouder.
That one there in the middle? That one’s my baby. And I couldn’t be prouder.

The PS3 didn’t only undergo significant cosmetic changes. There were also a few minor tweaks in it’s capabilities, HDD space, etc. The original PS3 controller which pretty much everyone hated was replaced by the Dualshock 3 and everyone rejoiced. But the system continued to change and adapt with technology and consumer expectations. We saw the Move join the PS3’s repertoire of tricks. And as 3D movies and televisions became more prevalent the system’s updates allowed it to stay ahead of the game and adapt to the new forms of media.

All in all, the PS3 has been a resilient little console. Will it have the staying power of the PS2? Probably not. Unless the Orbis is released at an entirely unbearable price and is backwards compatible, I don’t see a whole lot of reasons for people to resist the upgrade. (There are few reasons though that I will get to.) Yeah, sure, we’ll probably see parents for the next year or so grabbing some of the last ditch PS3 bundles for the holidays because the price has dropped so low and they figure they can always use the console as a blu ray player if the kids don’t play many games on it. But the PS2’s staying power wasn’t just about the loss of backwards compatibility. The PS2 was a force all it’s own with and I doubt we’ll ever see a console with the PS2’s impact and staying power ever again.

So, nostalgia aside, let’s focus more on the PS4/Orbis and what will this new console has to offer.

Check Out These Dev Kit Specs

I mean, we don’t really know for sure. Not really. Edge has been spreading around some information that most video game websites have been taking as true. And the specs that Kotaku announced not too long ago based on the kits developers are currently using to design games seem to pretty much be solid. There will probably be some changes to the HDD size and number of ports for attachments, etc.

Or this could all be a lie and it just explodes when you turn it on. That'd at least keep things interesting.
Or this could all be a lie and it just explodes when you turn it on. That’d at least keep things interesting.

But it seems like a pretty nice little machine.

There are a few pretty exciting new features coming to the system, too, other than these increased specs.

A New Controller

One of them is a new controller. It may be time to say goodbye to the Dualshock all together, folks, as sad as that might be. From what I understand  they don’t really intend to change the general style of the control. Much like the Sixaxis controller kept the form – just not the capabilities – of the original Dualshock controllers this controller, too, will have the same general set up: four buttons, two joysticks, four triggers, etc. (No word on the D-pad but I assume it will stay there, too.)

If I already have one can I just use this as a controller and forgo the $100+ price tag for a PS4 controller replacement?

The real changes are coming in the form of touch capabilities  Much like the Wii U controller – though they instead claim they are getting their inspiration from the PS Vita (which in turn got it’s inspiration largely from a desire to compete with the Nintendo DS) – there will be some amount of touch capability on the controller. Ladies and gentlemen, your $50 controllers will now probably cost upwards of $80 though hopefully it doesn’t cost as much as the Wii U Gamepad which apparently costs closer to $150 individually.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for innovation. Just not $150 innovation on something a person’s kids could break, their puppy could chew, or I could spill beer on while drinking alone at night playing video games in the living room.

The touchscreen will apparently take the place of the select and start buttons – potentially the PS button, too.

I for one would be interested if the new controller had a function similar to that of the Wii U Gamepad where the screen in the middle provided some additional aspect to the gaming experience. However, I can’t imagine Sony wanting to change the controller up too much or make it too big so I’m not entirely sure how well that would work out. It would be nice, though, for something like ZombieU to be able to be ported to the PS3. It would never happen, I know, but hey. A girl can dream.

The Share Button

The touch screen will also be the home of the ‘share’ button which will record up to fifteen minutes of gameplay and then allow you to edit it and upload it to the internet. This is apparently to help morons like me look like even bigger morons online by sharing our uninteresting exploits. Seriously, though. If it has a microphone we are totally going to get one here at Nerdophiles just so we can record Therese trying to play Dead Space 4 or whatever the big horror game for the PS4 will be. If it doesn’t… well then I’ll just be disappointed.

I mean, yeah. It’ll still be good for people who want to do walkthroughs, tutorials, or rub everyone’s face into the cool shit that they did. Also, it’ll make finding and sharing glitches like the ones in Red Dead Redemption easier and smoother.

But you’ll loose the candid fun!

Linking Accounts to Controllers

Another really useful little addition to the controller is the ability to sync your PSN gamer ID to another person’s system using your controller. I know that the WiiMote has allowed players to store their little avatars and import them to the Wii since it’s launch via Wiimote.  But that was just the avatar. Not the account or the data that goes with your unique gamer code on a Wii system. From what I understand with the PS4 controllers, they are instead making it so that you can sync your PSN account every time you activate a new controller.

Apparently they will prompt you to log in as soon as the Player 2 controller connects to the system. Everyone present and accounted for via controllers would then be signed into that one PS4 console. At the same time.

That way when you are playing with a friend at their house you can still rack up whatever points or trophies you would have earned otherwise. Basically, think about games that are entirely co-op. Or, rather, can be entirely co-op. Resident Evil 5 and the Resistance series come to mind. (Also, all of the LEGO games.) Instead of having the Playstation system log into the owners PSN account and awarding only that individual, everyone would log in separately on the same console. it will make co-op gaming way easier and probably make people way more likely to actually do it.

Games are supposed to be fun and you are supposed to play them with other people. The problem has always been, though, that co-op gaming has robbed you of the spoils of your efforts. Now, though? It doesn’t have to. Who wouldn’t think that was pretty freakin’ cool?

Okay, so, maybe this guy isn't too thrilled about having a group of people take him on but hey. Screw him.
Okay, so, maybe this guy isn’t too thrilled about having a group of people take him on but hey. Screw him.

That all sounds fine and dandy right? Maybe the controller with the touch screen is a bit gimmicky. It to me like Sony just really likes the PS Vita’s touch screens and user interfaces but can’t seem to be bothered to really vamp up marketing for the damn thing. Which is sad because I love mine to no end. I just don’t like that it cost me pretty much the same amount as a PS3.

But it’s not all hunky dory.

The Future of Used Games

About a month ago, it became apparent that Sony has applied for a patent that would allow them to limit the use of used games on it’s upcoming Playstation consoles. How exactly the would choose to limit the games remains to be seen. They could require a fee to use certain aspects of the game – like the Catwoman story arch on Arkham City or online gamin on any number of used game purchases  Or, they could apparently choose to lock them out entirely. It’s that latter speculation that has apparently set GameStop’s stock in a minor tailspin.

It’s important to note that this wouldn’t just hurt GameStop. It would also hurt probably what amounts to hundreds of thousands of small business owners and their employees. Not to mention the employees of larger chains like GameStop, Hastings, etc.

This poor little rabbit is going to be reduced to turning tricks for the Trix rabbit.
This poor little rabbit is going to be reduced to turning tricks for the Trix rabbit.

Plus, it would hurt gamers.

I’m not going to get into the merits of the used game argument now. (That’s fodder for another post at a later date.) But I will let it known that I am 100% for used games. There are just a lot of gamers out there who just don’t have the funds to buy games at launch or even months later when they drop to $30-40. I know that I personally do my best not to pay more than $10-20 per game and stores like Hastings around Thanksgiving time make that pretty easy with their discounted used game prices and Buy 2, Get 1 Free deals. (Or whatever deals they get.)

I know it can hurt the developers, publishers, etc. And considering that I have a few friends in the industry, I am very receptive to that argument. That said, what about the people who just genuinely dislike your game? They can’t return it. And if you made a crappy game then they should be able to sell it back to a store, sell it to someone else, give it to a friend, etc.

I mean, at the very least you ought to be able to let a friend borrow a game. It’s your property. You should be able to do that if you so desire. And what would this mean for game rentals? People don’t stop you from trading books or going to the library to try out a game before you buy it.

This seems to be something every console maker is considering (except I guess Nintendo so good you Nintendo) so it’s a very real threat. I just don’t really know if it’s likely to happen. I feel like games just wouldn’t stand for it. Maybe once downloadable games – which are non-transferable – really take off it’ll be easier to convince gamers that this is just the way it has to be. But until then? I think we’re all still pretty invested in the mobility and resale of our games.

Point point for Playstation though? If you can sign in different people on to one console and let them use games that are locked to that console your friends could at least play your games at your place. Which is at least something of a middle ground. I guess. Plus, you know, Playstation’s head honchos have already said they don’t want to do it. They don’t want to block used games. So, take that for what you will.


All right, so, that’s all we really know right now. Kotaku, Edge, 1UP, IGN, GameSpot, etc. all have pretty ‘breaking’ coverage of the PS4/Orbis but none of them really know anything more than this either. A few things will likely slip out here and there before Feb. 20th but I don’t think we’re really going to see much before then. Keep an eye out, though, for some movement from Microsoft. Considering Nintendo has already launched it’s next gen console and Sony is prepping the PS4 for it’s big reveal we’ll probably see Microsoft start doing the same. Unless, of course, they decide not to compete directly with the PS4 and instead decide to launch on their own sometime in 2014. It’s a possibility – though I think it’s probably unlikely.

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