Sony just took the wrappers off the PlayStation 4 at a blowout event — but something was missing. Bizarrely, the company elected not to show any glimpse of the console hardware itself, instead focusing on internal details and a showreel of upcoming games. We did get to see the new DualShock 4 controller and the depth camera that it works with, but as for what you'll actually place under your TV come holiday 2013? We're none the wiser.
Perhaps Sony is attempting to avoid the eventual embarrassment of its PlayStation 3 reveal at E3 2005, where the final console turned out to be considerably bulkier and less feature-laden than what was initially announced. Still, the lack of information as to what Sony's thinking in terms of hardware design is alarming, and Xbox's Larry Hryb — better known as Major Nelson — was sure to point it out.
Announce a console without actually showing a console? That's one approach— Larry Hryb (@majornelson) February 21, 2013
Sony didn't announce pricing or a specific release date, either, which was to be expected. But the event still left us with a lot of questions. With no hardware shown, how do we know what physical media the PS4 will support? What's the plan for PlayStation Network, and will we have to pay? Will the PS4 support 4K TVs at all?
Gaikai, the cloud technology that Sony is pushing as a major component of the PS4, is also shrouded in doubt. We don't know what you'll be able to use the service for once you unpack your console on launch day — the PS4 hardware won't support PS3 games natively, falling back on streaming for backwards compatibility, but it doesn't sound like that ability will be ready from the start. We'll be able to try demos of PS4 games via Gaikai, but it's not clear if the service will support full games.
Gaikai is shrouded in doubt
Plans for the PS Vita seem to be up in the air as well. Sony says that its "long-term goal" is to make almost every PS4 title playable on PS Vita via Remote Play streaming, but there's no timeframe given and it's not clear if this feature will be restricted to the same Wi-Fi network as the console itself.
It's not surprising that the announcement was light on details in many ways — after all, Sony surprised the world by putting out details of the PlayStation 4 far earlier than expected. But by failing to show even the most basic imagery of the hardware, and giving only vague details about many of the console's features, we're left with the impression that much of Sony's plan for the next generation is still to be determined.