Shit show

How did Sony get away with doing this?

  • Hmmmm, who else just recently “demoed” a new product but didn’t talk price, shipping date, or details?

  • Adam

    Makes perfect sense to me, at least the cost of the machine. Why give away the price to competitors (MS?) and they could still be tweaking the console design.

  • taylorishere

    I think they’ll show a console at E3. I disagree with it being a “shit show”. This is the beginning of console makers understanding that experience matters, not hardware specs. But I think the most damning detail is not the lack of hardware, but of exciting new, exclusive IPs.

    • I would have liked to see more original IPs as well. We saw some glimpses, but really nothing truly new. Still, I’ll keep my hopes high for E3. With all this info out of the way already, E3 WILL be all about games.

      • kenny

        The majority of games they showed were original IP:

        Deep Down Destiny Driveclub Knack The Witness Watchdogs

  • I don’t believe it to be a “shit show” either.

    Sony didn’t show a console design, nor a price nor a release date. These are all strategic decisions. They are not reinventing the wheel like Apple did with the iPhone, so they need to remain secretive.

    But you know what they showed that was really impressive, NONE of which Apple has (at least not yet)?

    • Several exclusive games (not ports like on iOS).
    • Support from more than 60 AAA developers, all developing AAA titles, not casual games.
    • Impressive cloud streaming capabilities.
    • The ability to capture video of your games and either stream it or share it seamlessly.
    • Let any of your friends control your game remotely to help you on a hard level or stage.
    • An intense focus on gaming and core gamers.

    It’s quite funny you know? I consider myself an Apple fan and I see our community complain why fans from other brands (Android, case in point) hate Apple so much, and so vocally (there’s even an entire article by Marco Arment about that in The Magazine).

    Yet the moment Sony makes an announcement and keeps crucial competitive information close to its chest, you and some of my most respected Apple writers don’t waste time using offensive language and downplaying what Sony did yesterday.

    I don’t know if you do this just of plain hate for companies other than Apple or because you really have no clue about how the gaming industry works. Not everyone can be (or should be) like Apple, you know?

    • Oh, so i must have imagined Apple demoing Infinity Blade and Real Racing in the past, both of them exclusive (It’s not Apple’s fault that Dungeons has been canceled and Real Racing 2 came only after a veeery long time to Android and iirc Real Racing 3 is not yet announced for Android) and both of them also not exactly “casual stuff”.

      Well, the A5 devices CAN stream video – only to your Apple TV, but until now – oh no, i mean until this holiday season, when the PS4 actually gets released, there is no console on the market that can stream your game to the web, only the Wii U can do what an iPad and AppleTV can do, but the other way round.

      Playing while downloading a game is also something that is much more important on the Playstation 4, because there, games can have sizes upwards of 30-40 GIGABYTES!!!

      That’s a whole different story than the 500MB – 2GB of iOS-titles.

      • I agree with some of your points. Apps on the iPhone are smaller, although graphic demanding games already are in the GB in size. As for the games you mention, none of them hold a candle when compared against real, console games (have you ever played Gran Turismo or God of War?).

        The PS3 already streams video and some full console games to the Vita.

        But my comment was not so much to criticize Apple, it was mostly to know why almost every Apple writer I look up to becomes so aggressive and completely dismiss the good point about Sony’s presentation yesterday.

        • JohnDoey

          The problem for Sony is this:

          • iPod replaced CD even though CD had higher fidelity because iPod was more convenient and always with you

          • iPad replaces desktop computers and game consoles, even though those devices have higher fidelity, because iPad is more convenient and always with you

          The other problem for Sony is this:

          • 2014 — PS 4 versus iPad 5
          • 2015 — PS 4 versus iPad 6
          • 2016 — PS 4 versus iPad 7
          • 2017 — PS 4 versus iPad 8
          • 2018 — PS 4 versus iPad 9
          • 2019 — PS 4 versus iPad 10
          • 2020 — PS 4 versus iPad 11
          • 2021 — PS 4 versus iPad 12

          … that is assuming PS 4 has the same lifespan as PS 3 and PS 2, and assuming that Apple does only 1 new iPad per year (they did 2 in 2012, so who knows?)

          At some point in the above timeline, iPad will have more CPU power and have more GPU power than PS 4, in addition to iPads already-existing advantages in every other feature.

          • kenny

            Have you actually tried using an iPad for serious gaming? It’s horrible – awkward to hold, heavy and it gets pretty warm playing anything with 3D graphics for more than 15 min. Not to mention the controls can be incredibly frustrating. There are a few examples of multi-touch games that work well on the iPad, but there are many more which are simply don’t work at all like FPS and platformers that are infinitely better with a gamepad.

            Games like Skyrim, Call Of Duty, Assassin’s Creed sell about 10 million(!) copies each year, majority of them on consoles. The cheap knock-offs on the App Store like Modern Combat don’t see anything near those kinds of sales. There’s a huge market of games that the iPad simply cannot accommodate.

            The iPhone is great for quick casual games on the go and it’s definitely taking away market share from portable game consoles like the DS/3DS and PSP/Vita, but even the iPhone is not particularly ergonomic compared to an XBox controller or a Dual Shock. Also, a 9″ gaming experience is not going to replace a 30″-40″ gaming experience any time soon.

            Maybe if Apple decide to do something with the AppleTV and make a decent controller for it that would be a serious threat to consoles, but the iPad? Nope. You realise sales of the XBox360 and PS3 actually increased in 2010 and 2011 since the iPad was released? The iPad is cannibalising the sales of cheap laptops and computers, but it’s not making any dent on consoles.

    • Exclusive games, not ports like on iOS…because having a better catalog than a mobile device is the gold standard of gaming libraries. Also, Infinity Blade, much?

      Support from 60 AAA developers…despite the fact that there aren’t that many AAA developers, nor does having a game in development mean it’s been announced or will ship.

      Impressive cloud streaming capabilities…that any computer science undergrad can tell you are at least in part incapable of working well, due to latency problems that are simple to prove mathematically on the back of a napkin. Moreover, a simple look at similar products (e.g. OnLive) will tell you that the classroom theory is borne out in the real world.

      The ability to share video and play games while downloading…which are admittedly rather neat features that I’m glad to see.

      I’ve actually stuck with Sony, despite some of the stuff they’ve pulled in recent years (e.g. rootkits, OtherOS, PSN hacks) and have a collection of dozens of games from the PS1, PS2, and PS3 eras, but I saw almost nothing in the PS4 news that actually captured my interest.

      • Great games are what make a console, just as apps are what make mobile work. And if you own a PS3, then you know most (if not all) of the devs committed to Sony will deliver. As for Infinity Blade, it definitely looks pretty and plays nice, but it is by no means a console quality game.

        As you say, features like cloud gaming are born in the real world. That makes me even happier to see Sony being the first major gaming company to announce it and be working on it. Don’t know if they will be the first to bring it to market this holiday, but they will be among the first at least.

        Again, my comment was not so much about that as about how some of the top Apple writers (that I admire and read every day) play blind and behave just as the Apple haters they complain so much about.

        In fact, I don’t know of any tech company other than Apple that shows products, prices and release dates on the same day of its announcements.

        • I can agree with the idea that Sony need not reveal everything at the first announcement, but I also think they should have had more to show. At the very least, I’d have expected to actually see the console itself.

          Also, regarding cloud gaming, Sony is not the first. OnLive has been doing this for awhile now, and I didn’t say that features like cloud gaming are born in the real world. What I said was that the classroom theory that this feature can’t work well has been demonstrated to be true in the real world. Reviews of Gaikai, back before it was acquired by Sony for use in the PS4, make this abundantly clear.

          Most gamers expect a latency of 20ms or less (significantly less, in the case of serious gamers or pro gamers) between when they provide input and see a response on-screen. Anything more and it becomes quite noticeable and feels sluggish or disjointed, particularly with faster action games. As an exercise, go find the speed of a signal and figure out how close Sony will need to have one of their cloud centers in order for you to experience 20ms or less round-trip latency. In order to provide decent service, they’ll need dozens, if not hundreds, of centers in America alone.

          • Nice details, thanks for the info.

            It looks like it will be quite hard a feature to implement smoothly. I wonder what are Sony’s detailed plans for it, especially in markets outside of Asia where Internet speeds are not as crazy fast.

    • “These are all strategic decisions.” Yes, they certainly are.

      This isn’t about hating companies other than Apple. It’s about calling out anyone who wastes everyone else’s time with vague promises and vapor. So far (at least in the last decade or so), Apple has done that a lot less often than Microsoft, RIM, Motorola, or Sony has.

      Apple actually raised the bar for product announcements, and now has a track record for pretty much delivering what they promise—all because they wait until their shit’s ready before they announce it.

      This isn’t about which games are exclusively available or which run better on one device or another. This is about consumer electronics at the retail level. What promises are you making, and how will you back up those promises? How much noise are you filling up the airwaves with? How much actual usable information? How are you helping me make a buying decision?

      This isn’t about “crucial competitive information,” either. Not if you’re announcing a consumer product that’s nowhere near ready to properly demonstrate. This is about generating uncritical fan enthusiasm. I see plenty of that on this page.

      • “It’s about calling out anyone who wastes everyone else’s time with vague promises and vapor.”

        Very true. But in this case most of what Sony showed was real and working on stage. Even the specs of the PS4 have been revealed by Sony. But still, a lot of “journalists” complain that they don’t see the box where all those components will be housed.

        Also, need I tell you the humongous amount of time that is wasted from readers of Apple news like me reading countless articles published by Apple websites about products that don’t even exist? Like the iWatch, iPhone nano, Cheap iPhone, iPhone Math, Apple TV, Retina iPad mini, Retina Macbook Air and so? If we were to follow Apple’s steps, nobody will publish anything until product announcements. Yet they do. This doesn’t come from Apple of course, but still, writers of Apple news don’t hesitate to republish whatever rumor arises.

        “Apple actually raised the bar for product announcements”

        This is also very true, and one of the reasons I love watching all Apple keynotes. They don’t talk or show stuff until it is done. However, Apple is not the rule, it is the exception. Absolutely no one (besides Amazon perhaps) in the industry does that.

        “How much actual usable information? How are you helping me make a buying decision?”

        Go to any gaming website and you will see the vast majority of people not caring at all for not seeing the PS4 case. Instead, they are already excited for everything that Sony has revealed so far.

        “This isn’t about “crucial competitive information””

        WRONG. Yes it is. And here is where I can tell you know nothing about the gaming industry. Here’s why this information is important:

        • Developing games for consoles like these takes YEARS, not a couple of months like some “major” iOS games. You need to talk to developers beforehand to have some launch games and then contact the ones who didn’t know about your new console so they can start developing.

        • There are four major gaming conferences every year: The Game Developers Conference (GDC) in March, the E3 in June, Gamescom in August and the TGS (Tokyo Game Show) in September. These are not conferences like the piece of crap that is CES, where manufacturers show concepts that will never see the day of light. These conferences require devs and manufacturers (like Sony, MS and Nintendo) to show real, working stuff that will be on sale soon. All major players have to participate. So it only makes sense for Sony to reveal information gradually instead of burning all its rounds early on.

        • Sony is not reinventing the VG console like Apple did with the iPhone when it announced it on January of 2007 six months before release. They are in a VERY close race against Microsoft, so the more they can keep secret WHILE AT THE SAME TIME gaining ground on their competitor and putting pressure on them, the better.

        My two great geek interests in life are Apple and videogames. These are industries that I know and that I’ve followed for years, so it is really sad to see people from one criticizing the other without having a clue of what they say, especially when these people are Apple writers, some of which I consider among the smartest guys on the web.

        The gaming industry is a very different animal compared to the rest of the consumer electronics one. You can know about tech and still have no clue about why videgames behave the way they do. But until writers (and readers) are humble enough to admit hits and to learn and research before writing, nothing will change.

        • Please don’t blame everyone else for the fact that you’ve wasted time reading sites that publish rumors. That’s entirely your choice.

          Apple may still be the exception for the quality of product announcements, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t hold other companies to those high standards. Apple’s example isn’t the rule because so many other companies make excuses for doing less. As do their fans and enthusiasts.

          Yes, game development takes years. (And computing platforms don’t?) So—by all means—talk to your potential developers. Just stop pretending you have something that’s ready for retail if you don’t. Stop expecting the press to pretend that, too.

  • Klifton

    I think the point is, this could have been done in five minutes. “Hey guys, PlayStation is important to us, as you are, and we’re working on it.” — Instead they said “We’re waste your time with a lot of non-substantive information to make it look like we’re busy.”

    • Plus.. they could presented those during “main” presentation where actual console is showed off with price and availability date.

  • The first few minutes of that press event have been horrible.

    The dude who got on stage first gave a real buzzword bingo marketing blablah speech.

    The second guy on stage was good, he spoke with enthusiasm and was much better at presenting a product.

    While i understand that many have been disappointed, that no Playstation 4 hardware was shown – does it really matter?

    The console itself ends up somewhere near/under your tv, maybe even in a cabinet.

    Except for inserting discs (and even that won’t be a necessity) you’ll never touch it, unlike a smartphone or a tablet.

    The most important part of a console is the games running on it – and they showed some of them or at least the capabilities of the Playstation 4 hardware.

    That also was a bit disappointing – but only because most of the demos already had been shown in the last year, especially the one from Square Enix and of course Unreal Engine 4, which will be used A LOT in games for the new console generation.

    I’d like to punch to guy who first got on stage, because he nearly bored me to death, i don’t like the new controller design and i wasn’t that impressed by the graphics of the games – but the third point is not Sony’s fault (because i had already seen what some of the new engines are capable of) – but all together – the show showed what was expected and what they had to show.

    The rest will follow during E3.

    • “While i understand that many have been disappointed, that no Playstation 4 hardware was shown – does it really matter?

      “The console itself ends up somewhere near/under your tv, maybe even in a cabinet.

      “Except for inserting discs (and even that won’t be a necessity) you’ll never touch it, unlike a smartphone or a tablet.”

      If the design of the console itself didn’t matter, why not show it at yesterday’s event? I can understand not having exact release dates or pricing yet; it’s too far out for that sort of thing. However, I don’t get the point of holding a two-hour event to announce something and never show it.

      • rj

        Because you want to save something for the second reveal at E3.

        Other possibilities: it isn’t ready yet; its too early to let Microsoft see it.

        • I think (everyone’s) point is, if it’s too early to talk price, delivery dates and show it off, then just wait until it’s not too early.

          Two frigging hours to say “we’re working on some new shit that will be available someday” is just ridiculous.

          • rj

            They didn’t say “available someday”, they said “Holiday Season 2013” (which probably means Nov).

            Apple has been similarly broad when specifying OS delivery dates. (And they didn’t show any production hardware when they spent a chunk of their keynote announcing the Intel switch).

            Given how many external parties are involved in the rollout, it seems likely that the stuff they did announce was going to leak, so I fail to see the problem with holding an event now and capturing plenty of mainstream press coverage in the process.

          • “Apple has been similarly broad when specifying OS delivery dates.”

            Probably because they are Developer’s conferences when they announce and show off them to… developers.

          • rj

            Neither Lion nor Mountain Lion were announced at a dev conference. Nor was iOS 4, iirc.

            And as any Apple follower knows, the WWDC keynote historically hasn’t been used just for developers anyway.

          • JohnDoey

            The developers still leave with a beta product, and the release date and price of the consumer version is always revealed.

          • JohnDoey

            No. Apple always shows a finished product.

            At the Intel switch, the finished product was a Power Mac Intel, sold to developers for $999.

            At WWDC they show a beta of Mac OS or iOS and developers take a disc with them or a download link and run the software that night. Later, when the golden master is shown, it ships within hours or days, the release date is given.

            The nearest analogy to this Sony event wasthe original iPhone event, which still had prices and release dates, even though there was a 6 month wait. And that was not iPhone 4, it was iPhone 1, a totally new product and market and industry.

          • rj

            Some developers were able to buy the test Intel Macs, but it was an Intel board in a PowerMac G5 case – far from a finished product.

            As I pointed out already, Mountain Lion, Lion and iOS 4 were not announced at WWDC. I don’t recall is they gave a specific date for iOS4 (but I doubt they did). I know they didn’t for ML or Lion.

            Developers have had PS4 development units for months (at least), so I’m not sure what your point is.

        • What JimD said.

    • JohnDoey

      You are right that the console will not be touched like an iPhone or iPad. That is the problem for consoles. There are only so many minutes you can be in front of your TV/console per day. iPhones and iPads follow you around all day and work everywhere.

      In 2001, the idea that the CD player was over was very hard to accept for many people. In 2013, it is hard to accept that console games are over. But console games are shrinking 10% per year and iOS grows almost 100% per year. And iOs is already more than double the size of all consoles put together. Do the math for 5 years out in 2018. Developers will go where the users are.

  • They did say “Holiday 2013” at the end, so that’s sort of a release date.

  • Buckeyestar

    Jim must have no knowledge or experience in the game console world. This is basically what usually happens. These are unveiled in waves, with the most important information being released as it gets closer to launch.

    Is isn’t iOS where you can knock out software in a few weeks. The games often need a couple of years. They’re not going to announce it and launch 10 days later.

    I knew they wouldn’t give a price or date, it’s too early. But I was very disappointed tht they didn’t show the “shell”.

    • Exactly. But I still don’t worry much about the “shell” of the PS4. Sony is my second favorite company (Apple is the first) when it comes to design, so I know they’ll come up with something neat.

  • BakaRakuda

    Gruber obviously doesn’t understand the console gaming microcosm. Frankly what Sony did isn’t so atypical, in fact I think they did most things right.

    The actual console design is absolutely irrelevant, it’s just the plastic box that sits under your tv. Interactions with it amount to little more than swapping a disk every now and then. They showed what they needed to – the controller and upcoming software.

    The console market is 3 vertically integrated companies selling a static hardware product for half a decade at a time. Each has their own rabid fan base that basically hates the other two so perception means a lot.

    By doing what they did Sony hopes to (further) stall WiiU adoption, by showing off technically superior looking games, hardware and services.

    They also want to get some buzz before MS can get a foot hold and avoid accusations of copy-catting should MS be working on similar services or controller features. By revealing only some details they also hope to force MS to show all of their cards but still have the possibility to tweak their price if they feel they need to.

    • Exactly my thoughts as well. I find it funny that Jim, Gruber and other guys in that circle write with so much authority about the gaming market when I’m sure they are not gamers, nor they follow the games industry closely enough to fully understand it.

      For a second there, they almost read like those famous “analysts” always predicting (wrongly) stuff about Apple.

      • So true! I kind of rolled my eyes at Gruber even complaining about it.

      • JohnDoey

        More than half the money that is spent on games is spent on iOS, and that gets better for iOS every day. Only the money matters. Developers will follow the money.

        Hardcore gamers under-appreciate the tiny size of the console installed base. Add all the consoles together and they are less than half the iOS installed base, and iOS is newer than all the consoles. Plus, many hardcore gamers have more than one console — the number of console game users and the money that they have to spend is very small compared to iOS. And iOS devices almost double in sales every year and double in speed every year.

        The game console is a CD player and iPad is an iPod. The story has already need written. A box that is trapped at home and you have to plug in wires and put in discs is not going to beat an all-in-one mobile that just works, anywhere you are, anytime the urge to play a game strikes you.

        • Get your facts right: More than half the money of HANDHELD gaming is spent on iOS. And this is counting only current handhelds that are both (Vita and 3DS) less than 2 years old and comparing them to ALL iOS devices.

          All of this coming from study that ESTIMATES this. With not a single hard piece of data.

          The “tiny” home console installed base is as of now of about 250 MILLION home consoles (PS3, XBOX and Wii), so is by no means small.

          Then you have another problem: In order to keep prices small, iOS game developers have to restrict their budgets, which has a direct impact on the quality of games. Just consider the number of award winning games released for iOS in a year (not even 10) compared to consoles, which see releases of literally hundreds of deep, engaging games with huge production value every year.

          On the other hand, I agree with you completely in that iOS devices (and smartphones and tablets in general) will increase in performance until they beat the PS4 or whatever is out there in two or three years. Even more: Soon Apple will allow Apple TV to run third party apps and if they also decide to release some sort of controller, the situation for consoles will be really sad.

          I have both and iPhone and and iPad mini and their gaming experiences never go more than a couple of rounds of Angry Birds and Tiny Tower for me.

          Not everyone games casually. A lot of us enjoy sitting down and immersing ourselves in deep, engaging experiences that last for hours. That’s why millions of dedicated gaming devices are still being sold.

          What I really want is for serious gaming to thrive. I don’t care if it is on a Sony console or on an Apple one, but for Apple to reach there a lot more needs to happen. They are simply not there yet.

        • rj

          “More than half the money that is spent on games is spent on iOS”


    • Mother Hydra

      Sony did not skate to where the puck is going to be, this is their primary problem. The core of the argument, it seems to me, is that Sony has finally started to realize having the biggest baddest specs on the block doesn’t sell consoles. Awesome experiences do. They hammered on this and it should be the core takeaway from the event. Too little, to late?

      Sony is running scared as much as it pains me to admit it. Vita integration- warmed over PSP promises from E3 2006 all over again. Utter pie in the sky rubbish. All in an attempt to counter the wiiU gamepad? Why target something that is not arguably successful in the market right now? Why try to trade blows on specs when they said earlier it wasn’t about specs? So many questions!

      What about the goofy controller? Please buy a Vita and maybe we will make some cool tie-ins. Yeah because that has worked so well in the past for you. I bring up exhibit A) Nintendo. The kings of schlocking hardware that has only one use. Ereader, GBA-Gamecube connection, the list goes on. Gamers voted with their dollars against this stuff and they will do it again. I’d reference the lackluster Vita sales. So now the PS4 is a vehicle to sell their expensive and obsolete mobile platform. Please I’d almost take the 3DS more seriously at this point. Almost. And only if it had Animal Crossing at that.

      Either way they need to focus inward, and not compete with the other guys on specs- bring the compelling experiences not gimmicks like the eye toy and move. EXPLOSIONS!

  • Mother Hydra

    Based on their history, I have no reason to believe that the PS4

    1- will be released in Holiday 2013 2- will release with all the features touted at this event 3- will utilize the new controller features in any meaningful way

    With Sony, take with a grain of salt and say “I’ll believe it when I see it actually running on hardware”. Too many times have they pulled the ol’ Colonial Marines bait’n’switch (to name a current title that pulled the same shit).

    I still haven’t seen anything they provided by way of video or screenshot that would scream NEXT GEN. Not. One. Thing. More lovely, lush environments and higher poly-count? Not exactly setting our worlds on fire here.

    Ooooh look we can really crank up the details in this world. Look at the wrinkles on this old buzzard in our tech demo. BOOM! explosions and fast cuts to make you forget how utterly plain and uninteresting all this truly is. Apparently in the future lush, multi-colored debris will float artfully through the air a la American Beauty.

    Yeah no, I’ll pass until I can play it at TGS or the like this year.

    OMG BONUS POINTS: for staking the future of the PlayStation brand (at least in the U.S.A) on our shitty upstream speeds. How this is all gonna work while the US is realistically so far behind with broadband is quite beyond me. The politics of it all could ruin the share experience.

  • Kenny

    The only reporters who thought it was a shitshow were the tech bloggers who tweeted their disappointment in Sony before the event even started. The same bloggers who then went on to write some utter bullshit about the event, claiming there was no hardware, no specs, no date, etc.

    Sony showed more specs than Nintendo ever has and they showed the hardware that matters the most – the controller. The fact that tech bloggers are obsessed over the physical box shows their complete ignorance of the industry. What the box looks like is no more important than what the AppleTV looks like.

    Most importantly though, the #1 thing that makes or breaks a console are the games and developer support, which is precisely what Sony delivered. Look at the gaming blogs and ask game developers their opinion on the Sony event – the vast majority were pretty impressed and excited on all the stuff Sony announced.

    Sony’s biggest mistake was inviting hoards of clueless tech bloggers who think Infinity Blade is state-of-the-art and get excited when Plants Vs Zombies is free in the App Store.

  • JohnDoey

    Low expectations. The last time Sony turned a profit, the iPhone did not yet exist.

  • I love reading all the excuses people are making here, defending Sony’s right to waste everybody’s time with a product presentation that had no product to present.

    The company’s CEO actually used the word “aspirational” to describe whether certain services will be available on the device when it’s released.

    This is consumer electronics, not church. Doesn’t matter if it’s a game console, a tablet, a smartphone, or a vibrator. If you have a product to announce, make sure it’s ready to show people. Make sure you have something the press can actually examine. Make sure you have a release date and a price.

    Make sure you have a damned product that’s ready. If it’s not ready, wait until it is. Don’t trade on what’s left of your reputation as a former giant if all you’re going to do is make promises.