1UP’s PlayStation 4 Roundtable: Opinions, Analysis, and Community Reactions

Jose Otero: At the PlayStation event, Sony showed some of the best and worst kept secrets in the gaming industry. We all got our first peek at the PlayStation 4’s controller and the rumored social features, like the ability to allow other users to spectate the games you’re currently playing. I went into this thing unsure of how social features would help boost this upcoming generation of hardware, but I walked away impressed by all of the possibilities. Today’s Internet thrives on a socially connected culture where people share pictures, video, and information at a rapid pace. It only makes sense that games would go in the same direction. The next gen doesn’t appear driven by graphics and polygons like the previous one’s that came before. If Sony placed their bets properly, it’s more about the social features and what they bring to the table.

Marty Sliva: Yeah, one of the biggest things I took aware from the conference was Sony’s push to make the PS4 the first social network with “meaning,” their words, not mine. Strange verbiage aside, they said all of the right things to make me believe that this could be the first console to succeed in connecting gamers on the same level that a platform like Facebook does. The idea of being able to watch what my buddies are playing on the fly, or upload something amazing that just happened in whatever game I might be playing is promising to say the least. If “Let’s Plays” seem popular now, just wait until any kid with a PS4 can record commentary without ever leaving their living room.
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PS4’s Encouraging Start Centers Around Sharing and Developer Friendliness

PS4 controller

It’s true, the games are ultimately what we are most concerned with when we talk about a games console. But when they are first announced, it’s the systems themselves that are often the most fascinating topics. This is perhaps truer than ever before in the case of the PlayStation 4, what with the industry changing so dramatically and the current generation of systems having lasted for as long as it has. Going into today’s event, I was of the belief that Sony needed to present a convincing reason for why it chose to make the decisions it would unveil and, more importantly, why it is that gamers should care about investing hundreds of dollars in a new system. At least part of Sony’s answer to the latter question revolved around making the PS4 a much more social platform than other consoles, though whether that’s a satisfactory justification remains to be seen.

The picture of the system’s new controller that has been circulating around the web for the past week did prove to be real. The DualShock 4 uses Bluetooth and is largely the same as its predecessor, save for some tweaks (like merging the Start and Select buttons into one, and the introduction of new, concave analog sticks, which are unfortunately not offset, Xbox-style) and a few new features: a headphone jack, a Share button, a touchpad, and a light bar. The touchpad, which I figured would have received some attention during the event, was all but ignored; I had hoped to see some reason for its inclusion. Perhaps it’s better that the games we saw didn’t include it, as it’s the sort of input that should only be used when it makes sense to do so, not simply because it’s there.
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The Games Industry Loses an Exceptional Individual as Kenji Eno Passes Away

Kenji Eno

Kenji Eno, famed game designer and composer, passed away yesterday from heart failure at the age of 42. Eno was truly a unique individual, both in terms of the games he worked on over the course of his more than two-decade-long career and the bold way he operated.

One of Eno’s first experiences with games was Space Invaders, which was quick to make an impression on him. “I liked how it made you feel kind of different. And the first time I experienced it, it’s like the first time you meet a woman — you feel something there; you feel some kind of chemistry,” he told 1UP in an extensive 2008 interview. “So I felt something like that for Space Invaders. That was probably love at first at sight. The sound was also what attracted me to it. Back then, I was in elementary school, and some schools banned kids from playing Space Invaders because kids were playing it too much.”
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PS3 Digital Games Could Be a Gentle Way of Easing Us Into Streaming on PS4

PSN streaming

Much like their disc-based counterparts, PlayStation 3 downloadable games won’t be supported on PlayStation 4. What that means is your entire PlayStation Network library is going to have to stay put, and won’t be carried over to the next generation as many people were hoping it would. That’s no surprise considering the major changes to the system’s architecture which, other than the issue of backwards compatibility, are excellent news. This leaves gamers who wanted the PS4 to fully replace the PS3 currently sitting on their entertainment centers in an unfortunate position, although it does present Sony with an opportunity.

Backwards compatibility has never been a guarantee going into a new generation. More often than not, it’s been something we’ve had to do without: NES games didn’t work on SNES, SNES games didn’t work on N64, N64 games didn’t work on GameCube, Genesis games didn’t work on Saturn, and so on. More recently we’ve had exceptions to that as the media games were delivered on became more consistent across generations with CDs and DVDs. The current generation of consoles initially promised backwards compatibility to varying degrees, but eventually Sony stopped including the hardware necessary to play PS2 games on PS3, Microsoft stopped adding Xbox games to the list of those that could be played on 360, and Nintendo left GameCube support out of the most recent Wii hardware revision. Now, with not even PSN games being playable on PS4, you can see that there is more to backwards compatibility than having a way of getting the data onto the newer system — particularly when the system games were originally on had complex hardware.
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The Orwellian Superheroes of Watch Dogs and inFamous: Second Son

spot

Always the eyes watching you and the voice enveloping you. Asleep or awake, working or eating, indoors or out of doors, in the bath or in bed — no escape. Nothing was your own except the few cubic centimeters inside your skull. — George Orwell, 1984

Ever since George Orwell published his dystopian masterpiece in 1949, people have compared it to the current state of national or international affairs. But in the always-connected, always-public world of 2013, perhaps the novel’s themes hit closer to home than ever. We’re living in a time of fierce debate over privacy concerns, an era where government and law enforcement argue for the right to GPS-track citizens without their knowledge. And like any form of art, video games are influenced by life.

During the PlayStation 4 event, Ubisoft and Sucker Punch gave the world a glimpse of their upcoming titles. And while there are clear differences between Watch Dogs and inFamous: Second Son, it’s hard to ignore the overriding sense of paranoia and fear over a totalitarian state. Superheroes don’t always wear a cape, and in the case of Aiden Pearce and Delsin Rowe, the rise of the anti-hero is a consequence of an oppressive regime.


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Moving Forward and Looking to Indies, Not Better Graphics

The Witness

Excited as I was to finally see a next-generation console, much of the PlayStation 4 software we saw last week struck me as underwhelming. It was pretty, certainly, and I’m all for beautiful games; I paid a great deal to upgrade my PC in 2011 so that Battlefield 3 would look its finest, and it irks me that Far Cry 3 and Crysis 3 each stresses my computer to the point that I can’t see every last bit of visual goodness they have to offer and maintain a decent framerate. Still, gorgeous graphics are not all I want out of new games, and yet it would seem as if the PS4’s hardware is being extolled purely for its ability to accommodate even nicer-looking visuals.

That belief is representative of the majority of what Sony had on show last week. While the capabilities of the hardware to push more pixels was invariably going to be a major part of the event, with the way things went you could be left thinking the future of games entails little more than better-looking games that boot up faster than ever. That’s all well and good — I am legitimately excited for auto-downloads, suspend modes, and all manners of hurdles between player and game being removed — but the hurdles Sony and Microsoft should be doing their damndest to remove lay between independent developers and next-generation consoles.
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A Plea for the Gaming Industry to Respect Gamers

Respect

Although the economy might not be in the thick of a recession as it once was, that doesn’t mean things are going especially great for videogame publishers. Take Electronic Arts, for instance, which hasn’t exactly set the world on fire with its performance as of late. The start of the next generation is an ideal opportunity to effect change that doesn’t come along often, and it seems EA doesn’t intend to miss it; just yesterday it revealed plans to proliferate microtransactions throughout each of its games. As EA and publishers in general attempt to do this (and try out other means for generating additional revenue), I hope they don’t forget to treat gamers with respect.

This current generation of consoles has seen the onset of numerous new money-making tactics. While expansion packs had been offered in the past, downloadable content became the norm for nearly every game, delivering everything from horse armor to new characters, maps, and more. Online passes have attempted to fight used games sales, encouraging gamers to buy new copies of their games or, failing that, forcing them to pay money directly to the publisher for access to certain (often multiplayer) content. Always-online connections, allegedly intended to enable new features but with the obvious benefit of trying to ward off piracy, spread from games where its use was implicit to those where its use is a detriment more than anything else.
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Listen to the Final 1UP Podcast Ever

As you know, 1UP.com has breathed its last. Such are the vicissitudes of business. Happily, Jose Otero managed to pull together a startling number of former 1UP staff during Game Developers Conference this year for one final podcast. Not everyone was there due to the last-minute nature of this show (or because they had other duties that kept them away), but if you paid any attention at all to the site for the 10 years it lived you’re bound to hear some voices you recognize in this three-hour tag-team adventure. Rather than spoil the surprise, though, we’d rather just let you hear the show for yourself.

Thanks for all the years of support. Your enthusiasm for our work fueled these shows, and we very literally couldn’t have done it without you. Please enjoy this final gift to you all.



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PlayStation 4’s First Games Aim to Impress, But Lack a Desired Next-Gen Feel

PS4 games

As expected, today’s big Sony event focused solely on one thing: the newly announced PlayStation 4. The presentation clocked in at two hours and covered a wide variety of subjects, although many of the key details — a specific release date, a price, plans for its online service — were nowhere to be found. What we do know is the system will indeed be known as the PS4, its rumored controller is the real deal, it’s coming this holiday, and its games look very pretty — although it’s debatable whether the games we saw showed the kind of innovation you’d hope to find on a next-generation console.

When it came to the games shown, what was and was not real gameplay footage was not always clear. Some things were clearly labeled as tech demos. We got a glimpse of the Unreal 4 Engine demo shown previously, as well as Agni’s Philosophy, the impressive-looking demonstration of Square Enix’s next-generation engine first seen at last year’s E3. In the case of the latter, there was no doubting it looks tremendous. However beautiful it is, though, there’s no denying the demo loses its luster when accounting for the fact that the same footage made the rounds last year. Word of a new Final Fantasy being in development did provide an opportunity for Square Enix’s presence on stage to have some real significance, but forcing us to weight for E3 to learn anything about it was a cruel tease for series fans who were hoping to hear about the status of Versus XIII.
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Come Watch as Sony Unveils What’s Next for PlayStation

The future of PlayStation is set to be revealed in just a matter of hours. 1UP will be in New York City to see firsthand what is widely presumed to be the unveiling of the PlayStation 4. As we get closer to the start of the event — scheduled to begin at 3pm Pacific, 6pm Eastern — you’ll find a livestream of the event above. You can also follow along with all the happenings by way of our Twitter stream below.

We also want to hear what you have to say as Sony kicks off the next generation of console gaming. We’ll be talking a great deal about everything we learn (and don’t learn) tonight in the coming days, and we have one story coming tonight that we’d like to include your thoughts in. If you’d like a chance at having your take on the new console featured here on 1UP, simply tweet @1UP using the hashtag #1UPps4 with your impressions.
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As the PlayStation 4 Makes Its Debut, Sony Needs to Provide a Satisfactory “Why”

PlayStation 4 controller used games

After an unusually long console cycle, we’re now just a day away from the reveal of the PlayStation 4. Sony hasn’t been especially coy about what the purpose of tomorrow’s event is, though it has been reluctant to provide any information that could clue us in on its plans for its next home console. Besides the sorts of things Sony can’t hide, like domain registrations and its acquisition of Gaikai, there has been no shortage of leaks and reports to give us some sense of what to expect tomorrow, as well as some ideas for what Sony needs to accomplish. Put simply, there needs to be a recurring theme throughout tomorrow’s event as it makes its various announcements, and it involves answering one simple question: “Why?”

The controller is one aspect of the PS4 that has been making headlines recently after a photo showing an early prototype began making its way around the web. An internal speaker, a newly designed d-pad, and concave analog sticks are among the differences it features, but two other additions are the potential difference-makers: a touchpad and built-in PlayStation Move support. As you’d expect, some have written these off as mere gimmicks, and while they might end up being correct in that assessment, I’m interested in seeing what developers can do with them. Nobody wants either Move or the touchpad used in games just for the sake of doing so. Yet subtle implementations that accent traditional controls, or games built around these features (think Flower with Sixaxis), can be worthwhile and justify the existence of these so-called gimmicks.
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It’s Too Soon to Write Off the PS4 Controller Prototype’s New Functionality

PlayStation 4 controller prototype

The unveiling of the PlayStation 4 is still two days away, yet we’ve already heard a great deal about what to expect from it. Last week, an alleged picture of the system’s controller was published by Destructoid, and despite being only a single image, it was extremely telling. It showed off two major components that we’d heard about before in a touchpad and light bar, although physically seeing them was a great deal different than simply hearing about them. While some are already bemoaning these two additions, I don’t think their inclusion is inherently problematic.

Should you be doubting the authenticity of the photo, sources have confirmed to IGN and Kotaku that this is the real deal. It is, mind you, a prototype, meaning it can and is likely to change, both in terms of feature set and looks. What matters, though, is that Sony apparently has real plans on including both a touchpad and a PlayStation Move sensor in the PS4’s controller.
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After an Abysmal January, 3DS’s Turnaround Provides Hope for Wii U’s Future

Wii U

Knowing the Wii U’s immediate sales prospects weren’t as great as it had hoped is what prompted Nintendo to recently slash sales projections for the console. Rather than expecting to sell 5.5 million units by the end of March, it was now expecting 4 million units to be sold by that same point. That is a significant cut, and one which meant Nintendo was anticipating just under a million units to sell worldwide in the first three months of 2012 after ending 2012 with 3.06 million units sold.

There was invariably going to be a drop-off as the year started because Nintendo systems sell best around the holidays, but without the excuse of supply constraints, a million consoles in three months didn’t sound great. Now, at least in the United States, the Wii U’s start to the year has been nothing short of abysmal. And while that’s rightfully concerning, Nintendo is not far removed from having dealt with a system that many argued was down for the count before it ever made it to store shelves, which could prove to be useful as it moves forward with Wii U.
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