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Some PlayStation “4” Rumors Are Ruffling Feathers

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Kotaku posted some rumors on the next PlayStation. Some were nice-to-knows like the codename, but others are causing a bit of a backlash.

Here’s the breakdown for easy consumption:

  • Codenamed ‘Orbis’
  • AMD CPU and GPU (Southern Islands aka Radeon HD 7000 series)
  • Will launch in 2013
  • No backwards compatibility with PlayStation 3 games
  • Anti-used games DRM

The CPU & GPU

An AMD CPU will mark the return of x86 to consoles. Not since the original Xbox have we seen a console that resembles a PC this closely.

The GPU will certainly not be from the high end side of the the Southern Islands family of Radeons. If I were a betting man (and looking at the current generation), I suspect we’ll be seeing something along the lines of a Radeon HD 7770 or Radeon HD 7750 powering the graphics side of things.

The most obvious benefit with this kind of “off the shelf” arrangement is the potential for easy ports to and from this console.

Bye Bye Backwards Compatibility

With such a drastic departure in architecture and instruction set, it makes sense that backwards compatibility would fall by the wayside. Backwards compatibility for the next PlayStation will be an even costlier effort for Sony. So unless Sony would like to:

  1. include the PlayStation 3 hardware inside the PlayStation 4 (like they did with the hardware BC in the PS2)
    or
  2. write an emulator for the PlayStation 3 which I imagine would be quite the challenge considering the Cell processor and its unique qualities.
No More Used Games
If the rumors are to be believed, Sony will be mimicking Valve’s Steamworks delivery where every game will be available both digitally and on retail. Like with Steam, the retail version of the game will act solely as an alternative to downloading the content myself. The only unsavory part to this rumor is the possible always on internet connection required to play games. That’s inconvenient — Steam and other existing DRM have some kind of offline mode. I hope Sony does too.
I have no problem with following Steam’s footsteps in the retail space. Considering the bandwidth limitations that I have now, downloading 20+ GB worth of game data is not ideal. Plus, retail stores will often have drastic sales which isn’t something the PlayStation Network store is known for.
It is a bit of a downer not being able to trade in games or easily share them with friends, but I already live that reality with Steam and its ilk. I just hope that if Sony goes down this path, they would follow Valve’s example and throw ridiculous sale events on a regular basis.
One can dream.

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