THROUGH THE LOOKING GLASS
In terms of unannounced games, Bungie is rumoured to be making a sci-fi MMO for Activision called Destiny - the game they traded the Halo franchise to work on. It'll no doubt get compared to Respawn's (ex-Infinity Ward devs) new game for EA, tipped to be a sci-fi shooter (art on their website shows an Avatar-like lush alien world).
Then, following Battlefield 3 it's likely that DICE will pursue Mirror's Edge 2. Indeed, EA exec Frank Gibeau said earlier this year: "We're actively looking at how to bring it back in the right way," while DICE producer Patrick Liu recently added: "I think it's something that people are ready to get into again."
A PlayStation 3 exclusive 'you won't believe' is set to kick things off this weekend by making its debut at the Spike Video Game Awards.
As the industry pulls itself from the sluggishness of Christmas indulgence into the New Year, a trickle of new title announcements will become more of a stream in the run-up to E3. And yet the games industry has never faced such turbulent, era-defining changes.
Digital distribution, free-to-play payment models and Cloud-based services have already transformed Apple's business model which is, in turn, affecting the way Nintendo does business. The old ways are, in many ways, no longer relevant. How Sony redefines and repositions itself in the next 18 months will be crucial to the company's relevance moving into the next generation of hard and software. Whatever happens, it will be a thrilling ride.
PS4: WHAT'S IN THE BOX
What direction will Kaz Hirai take the next PlayStation generation? We speculate...
With the departure of Ken Kutaragi six months after the launch of PS3, Sony lost the father of its console business, the man who single-handedly convinced his bosses to take a gamble on the gaming industry with his invention, the first PlayStation.
Replacement Kaz Hirai may be a more diplomatic figurehead, but he lacks the inventor drive of Kutaragi. And then, as the very landscape of the contemporary games industry changes, moving to digital distribution, free-to-play payment models and Cloud-based services, is there even a place for consoles made out of plastic any more? What on Earth could PS4 look like with so many pressures pushing and pulling on its design?
It seems unlikely that Sony will abandon either console hardware or games on discs yet. Kaz Hirai said late last year: "We do business in parts of the world where network infrastructure isn't as robust as one would hope. There's always going to be requirement for a business of our size and scope to have a physical medium."
Then, of course, over the past few years Sony has invested an estimated $3 billion into the development of the Cell Processor and on building fabrication factories (Toshiba recently sold its Cell factory in Nagasaki back to Sony for £400 million), so it seems certain that this technology will fire PS4. Not only will it grant full backwards compatibility with PS3, but the familiar dev environment will be of benefit to developers.
Blu-ray will no doubt be the standard format, but a recent New York Times article implied that the next storage media of choice will be holographic discs, each of which have a storage capacity of around 100 DVDs, are expected to be cheaper per gigabyte than Blu-ray when it launched in 2006, and which, crucially, can be read by Blu-ray players.
Connectivity and software will be watchwords for the design teams working away in the chocolate factory as we speak, and a much rumoured redesign of PSN will likely be core to the company's strategy in making its software as impactful as its hardware.
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