Is Sony announcing the PS4 this month?

22:12, Feb 03 2013

Has Sony fired the first salvo of 2013 in the next-generation console wars?

If the frenzy on the internet last Friday after a cryptic announcement by PlayStation featuring a brief video clip with slick visuals but short on actual information is anything to go by, then yes: In a few weeks, Sony will reveal the PlayStation 4 to the world.

And it makes sense to do it now.

In the short clip there are brief glimpses of what might be hardware intertwined with stylised twists on PlayStation's familiar cross, square, circle and triangle buttons found on its Dual shock controller, and in a tweet, PlayStation said that those attending the February 20 [February 21 for us Kiwis] meeting would "see the future". Is this the PlayStation 4 as we're all calling it? Could this be the world's first official word that Sony's next gaming/entertainment console exists?

Twitter exploded with speculation that Sony is, indeed, giving a first look at its successor to the PlayStation 3, the games and Blu-ray player that Sony once marketed as doing everything. Influential American games writers tweeted that they'd been invited to a Sony event on February 20 and three weeks out, the hype train is starting to gather momentum.

Information followed from gaming websites on what "sources" close to the console's development told them. Edge magazine wrote on its site that the PS4 would be announced in February, be more powerful than the next Xbox and be released in the United States and Japan at the end of the year. A European – and hopefully other PAL region launch – would be in early 2014. Edge said the console will feature a redesigned controller that has a touch pad using similar technology to that found in the company’s PS Vita handheld and feature a share button that will let screenshots and video to be distributed online. Importantly, though, unlike the PS3, the new console would be more PC-like in its architecture, meaning it will be easier to develop games and software for it.

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If it is an announcement for the PlayStation 4, it makes sense to do it now. E3, one of the world's big three video games industry trade shows, is in June, but other major players in the multi-billion-dollar video games industry will be there, all wanting a slice of the attention, clamouring for the attention of the world's gaming press so a pre-E3 announcement will give Sony the limelight.

A February reveal will also, importantly, give Sony the jump on Microsoft, its closest rival in the console space - although recently, Larry Hyrb, Xbox's director of programming, announced on his blog that Microsoft would make a "major announcement" at this year's E3: the next Xbox, maybe? With a February announcement, PlayStation could get the next-generation console ball rolling with earnest. Look for things to get interesting.

Last month, Kaz Hirai, the global head of PlayStation, told The Times that the company would wait until the competition had announced its next console before revealing what it had planned. "Why go first when your competitors can look at your specifications and come up with something better?" Hirai said.

Was this some sort of clever ruse by Hirai? A calculated move to throw Sony's rivals off the scent? Perhaps, but if Sony does announce a new console on February 20 expect Microsoft to be paying close attention. Very, very close attention. If it isn't already, Microsoft will already be working on a counter-offensive to show off what it has planned.

The announcement could be something to do with PlayStation's digital strategy for the future or its plans for cloud-based gaming service, Gaikai, which the company bought last year year for US$380 million but chances are it's not. One thing's for sure, though, by announcing its next-generation console first, Sony will get the world interested about where it's heading for the future.

But what do you think? Is Sony planning to reveal its next-generation console on February 20 or do you think it has something else planned?

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