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2013 preview: PlayStation and Xbox

PS4, next Assassin's Creed, Battlefield 4 − we reveal everything we know about PlayStation and Xbox in 2013

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Then the day after, Sony will respond. They'll offer the first glimpse of PlayStation 4 - or more likely PlayStation Orbis - and their first round of next-generation games. Expect Killzone 4 to steal the show on a stage shared with Gran Turismo 6 and Media Molecule's next big game. MM will also show Tearaway for Vita, a platform in need of a saviour.

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Gaikai game-streaming support might be Vita's last, best hope and you can expect it to be teased for every Sony platform - Vita, PS3, PS4, smartphones and Bravia TVs. The Last Of Us will open the show and PS4 will close it. EA will announce the first game from Respawn, Battlefield 4 will be demoed, and something curious will happen: games will be announced for 360 and PS3 (as cut-down versions) as well as the next Xbox and PS4 (full versions).

AUTUMN AND WINTER

July and August will be as dead as they've ever been, but this year we're in for an uncommonly quiet autumn too, with one big exception. The Tokyo Game Show in September will pick up where GamesCom leaves off, and the home debut of PS4 will be the very definition of spectacle. Meanwhile Microsoft make their third attempt to crack the Japanese market. Nobody in Japan will care.

At some point around October Sony will release The Last Of Us and it'll be as good as you'd expect from Naughty Dog. Assassin's Creed 3: Subtitle will appear on current-generation platforms, along with Battlefield 4, Dragon Age 3 and Modern Warfare 4, but nobody will care because all three will have next-generation versions on shelves in November. However, it's here that the fog of war rolls in.

We know Microsoft's new console is on shelves in November. Enough sources have named it as the date to convince us, and November is always Microsoft's release date for console hardware. All those big Christmas games will get a port of their high definition PC version, and Bill Gates will pause momentarily between doling out fistfuls of money to charity to smile at the new console's success.

Sony's plans, meanwhile, aren't quite so clear. Some sources suggest November while others point to April 2014. Sony hit shelves last in the current generation and it hurt them, and a Microsoft lead gives them dozens of de facto exclusives. Sony have gone for staggered releases in the past, so maybe the next PlayStation will arrive in Japan in November, then make it west in early 2014.

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That was the pattern for Vita, PS3, PSP and PS2, but the world has changed and Vita is struggling. Can Sony afford to gamble everything on a global launch in November, or will they play it safe and stick to Japan where their only threat is the last-gen Wii U? We're calling it now: you'll likely have two next-gen machines by winter 2013.

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