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Section 1 / Page 39

PlayStation 4 and Beyond?

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A PS4 will be launched by Sony but not until at least 2010, claims the Vice President of Technology for Sony Computer Entertainment Europe, Paul Holman. What will happen between then and now is that Sony will introduce a series of firmware upgrades that will give the PS3 more media centre capabilities.

A new Playstation 4 could be less than 18 months away according to a Sony insider. The device will include the same chipset as the current PS3 but where it will differ from the current model is in the drive bay and in the attachment area. It will also include an extensive software suite for the managing of content being streamed to a TV or Hi Fi source.

In addition Sony is working on improving the output experience so that the device can become a true home entertainment centre eliminating the need for a media centre. "We have even looked at a Sony home server based on Playstation technology. This would allow consumers to connect home automation devices to the Sony server while also delivering online gaming and access to an extensive movie and music library" said one Sony source.

As a matter of course, I have the vision of PlayStation 4, 5 and 6, which will merge into the network," Mr. Kutaragi said. Earlier this year when Kazuo Hirai became the second president of SCEI and chief operating officer, some analysts said that Sony may not launch yet another game console and the PlayStation 3 may become the last one. On this Mr. Kutaragi, who is also known as "the father of PlayStation", says that future consoles may be network-based, which automatically reduces the cost to build such machines.

"The design concept of the Cell processor is the network processor," Mr. Kutaragi said. "When the PS3 was introduced last year, the network environment was not ready for a net-based game console. Now it has become possible, so why not enter?"

The outgoing leader has faced a lot of criticism from observers for the PlayStation 3, the latest game console by Sony Group, as the machine is expensive to manufacture despite of the fact that initial batch of games are unlikely to become bestsellers. At the same time, technical advantages of the arch-rival Microsoft Xbox 360 and difficulty to develop games for the Cell processor used in the PlayStation 3 have resulted in losing exclusive titles with game developers.

Kazuo Hirai, who is believed to have better relations with game developers than Ken Kutaragi may fit very well into the Internet-based game console strategy, as technical capabilities of game consoles may play much less significant role going forward.


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Author Alan Keeling