PS4 DRM, controller, price, release date & specs news

Posted: June 18, 2013 by Areeb Fazli in Games, Technology
Tags: , , ,

So the big guns have fired their salvos at E3 and it looks like Sony is making the early running. A lower price, more powerful hardware and a popular stance against DRM put it ahead of its main rival after the first hurdle.

Here we’ll go through everything we know about the PS4 and also highlight everything we still don’t know. We’ll compare it to the competition and look at where a PS4-dominated future might take console gaming.

Below is the full E3 press conference, though there’s a lot of pre-amble so skip ahead to 33min in to get the start of the presentation, and right up to 54mins if you want to skip all the PS3 and Vita stuff and get straight on with the PS4 content.

If you missed out on the initial PS4 announcement event, which contains a lot more hardware information, you can watch a condensed version below.

There’s quite a lot to get through so we’ve broken it down into key sections.

 

PS4 DRM AND USED GAMES

 

Video games are often presented as being cutting-edge entertainment, but at E3 Sony struck a massive blow against its main rival by simply standing still. DRM, digital licensing and mandatory internet connections have become big topics in this fledgling console war. Microsoft’s plan was to join the likes of Apple, Amazon and Steam – with content that lives in the cloud and is attached to your user account rather than physical media – with all the restrictions and advantages that entails.

Sony subtly presents its point to Microsoft

It wasn’t a popular move though, or at least not popular with those on gaming websites, forums and twitter. And so Sony scored an open goal by announcing that disc-based games would work the same as ever, yours to play, yours to sell and yours to lend. This sounds simple compared to the Xbox One’s DRM system which you can read about in our Xbox One article, but at least Microsoft has detailed exactly how its system will work.

PS4 DRM-free
Sony have taken the moral high ground in the DRM battle, but we want more details

Interviews soon after the event made it clear that although Sony was certainly in the lead in this department, its statement wasn’t as all encompassing as first thought. It only applies to first-party Sony games, with third-party publishers free to implement whatever DRM restrictions they can invent. That leaves PS4 gamers in the same position as they are today, with constant incremental implementation of DRM by publishers. Microsoft’s system may be unpopular, but it looks to be all-encompassing, so you wouldn’t have a myriad of different DRM systems, and user accounts, from different publishers.

We hope we’re wrong and that DRM issues will not be a big issue on the PS4, but gaming is swimming against the tide here and we’re pessimistic. Many are picturing Microsoft as the big bad and Sony as a knight in shining armour, but until we get some clear answers to our questions (Sony hasn’t been able to comment so far) we’ll be wary.

We’re interested in such things as:
1. Has Sony made any commitment to getting all games on sale through PSN on the day of disc release? (first party and/or third party)
2. Will Sony be allowing gamers to share PSN purchases with friends/family on other consoles
3. Will PSN purchases be locked to a user account or to the console, or both in some way?
4. Will others on your PS4 be able to play multi-player online under their own ‘Truenames’ or will it only be the PS Plus subscriber?

Primarily, we want to know whether or not third-party publishers will be limited by Sony in their implementation of DRM through user accounts, with regards to gamers using cloud features, multiplayer, patches and other online components. The way gaming is moving, it’s all well and good to argue that you want to play single-player games alone and offline, but that is increasingly becoming sidelined, with single-player, multi-player and co-op all being blended together – such as in Bungie’s Destiny.

PS4
Who will have the final say on DRM, Sony or third-party publishers, our guess is the latter

 

CONSOLE DESIGN

 

After months of waiting, Sony has finally revealed its hardware. The console looks great, with a split design, both around the middle and across the top. The raked front looks cool and it’s fairly compact too – measuring just 305x53x275mm, less than an estimated 343x80x263mm for the Xbox One.

It has a built-in power supply, so there’s no external power brick to deal with and the ports on the rear are kept to necessities: HDMI, optical S/PDIF, two USB3 and a mysterious AUX port. The original spec we saw listed an AV output, but there’s no sign of that on the device shown in up-to-date press shots.

Our only concern is that the design is fairly slender, with air vents on the rear, which suggests the use of one or more small fans, this could make the device louder and whinier than the Xbox One, especially given its more powerful GPU and the extra heat it will generate.

PS4 console
The new console is hardly groundbreaking but it’s compact and has a built-in power supply, so it’s a big thumbs up from us

You can read a full specs sheet here: full press release PDF from Sony. And the console is reportedly region free, so you’ll be able to play games bought anywhere in the world – presuming you can read Japanese of course.

 

PS4 PRICE

 

PS4 UK Price

The PS4 will cost £349 in the UK, EUR399 in mainland europe and $399 dollars in the US. We were hoping for a price closer to £300 over here, but even considering the lack of a bundled camera peripheral, the price is far easier to swallow thatn the £429 for the Xbox One.

It does seem that we’ve been we’ve got the short end of the stick again when it comes to exchange rates, with the PS4 costing approximately £42 more here than it should. For more details on this read our PS4 Price – We lose out in exchange rate calculation.

 

PS4 RELEASE DATE

 

The official PS4 release date is currently pencilled in for ‘Holiday 2013’, which most-likely means in time for Thanksgiving in the US, so a mid-November PS4 launch date. The launch has now been confirmed as being worldwide, with the US, Japan and numerous European countries all getting the console during that period. There’s no precise date as yet, but we’ll update this article as soon as we hear anymore

 

PS4 SPECS

 

Here’s the official listing of the PS4 specification as it stands

 

Main Processor:
Single-chip custom processor
CPU: x86-64 AMD ‘Jaguar’ 8 cores
GPU: 1.84 TFLOPS, AMD next-generation Radeon™ based graphics engine

Memory:
GDDR5 8GB

Hard Disk Drive:
Built-in 500GB

Size and weight:
305x53x275mm and 2.8kg

Optical Drive (read only):
BD 6xCAV
DVD 8xCAV

I/O and communication:
Super-Speed USB (USB 3.0)
AUX
Ethernet (10BASE-T, 100BASE-TX, 1000BASE-T)
IEEE 802.11 b/g/n
Bluetooth® 2.1 (EDR)

AV output:
HDMI
Digital Output (optical)

 

 

PS4 PROCESSOR AND GRAPHICS

 

It’s been widely-known for some time that the PS4 would use AMD technology, both for its CPU and GPU elements – as is the remarkably similar Xbox One. It turns out that the PS4 looks to be significantly more powerful than the Xbox One two areas, Memory and GPU, the reasons for which we’ll explore here.

PS4
Hardware details were thin on the ground at the launch

MEMORY

Even what proved to be the most reliable leaks said that the PS4 would have 4GB of system memory. It was theorised that use of a single pool of fast GDDR5 memory would more than make up for the 8GB of slower memory in the Xbox One . However, when the reveal came, we were pleasantly surprised to find that the PS4 will have a whopping 8GB of superfast memory.

The change was due thanks to tumbling memory prices of the once very expensive GDDR5 memory, combined with a simple architecture on the PS4 that allowed the single lump of memory could be easily increased in size without affecting other components.

This fast and unified memory system is seen by Sony as its main advantage against the Xbox One, and looked at historical precedents, the console with the most simple and streamlined architecture has usually gained the upper hand. Sony’s lead system architect is certainly in a bullish mode though, describing the system as ‘Supercharged’ here: PS4 lead architect describes its “supercharged PC” design

GPU

The PS4 and Xbox One GPUs look to use practically identical hardware designs, both from AMD and both very similar to the recently released AMD Radeon 7790. However, the PS4 GPU looks to have 50 per cent more compute units than the Xbox One. This has been long known from detailed technical leaks that appeared on VG Leaks and then further confirmed in briefings after the XBox One launch, where a Microsoft engineer stated the Xbox One had 768 compute units – 50% less than the PS4’s 1,152 units.

That disparity alone should mean that the PS4 will run third-party games smoother and with more graphical details. However, as confirmed in the initial PS4 reveal, these can be used for more than just graphics, with Sony showing off an impressive Havok physics demo, with thousands of objects bouncing about – largely managed by the GPU.

Console comparisons aside, the bottom line for a next-gen console is fairly obvious. It should be able to run graphically detailed games at 1080p and 60fps, and preferably also cope with the processing overheads of 3D as well. The PS4 looks well equipped to do this.

Source: ExpertReview

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