PlayStation 4

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PlayStation 4
PlayStation 4 logo and wordmark.svg
PS4-Console-wDS4.png
PlayStation 4 console with DualShock 4 controller
Developer Sony Computer Entertainment
Manufacturer Sony,[1] Foxconn[2]
Product family PlayStation
Type Home video game console
Generation Eighth generation
Release date
  • NA November 15, 2013[3]
  • EU November 29, 2013[3]
  • JP February 22, 2014[4]
Introductory price US$399.99, €399.99, £349.99
Units sold 22.3 million (as of March 31, 2015)[5][6]
Media Blu-ray Disc, DVD
Operating system PlayStation 4 system software, FreeBSD 9.2
CPU Semi-custom 8-core AMD x86-64 Jaguar CPU (integrated into APU)[7]
Secondary low power processor (for background tasks)[8]
Memory 8 GB GDDR5 (unified)
256 MB DDR3 RAM (for background tasks)[8]
Storage Hard drive, 500GB (user upgradeable, supports SSD)
Display HDMI (480p, 720p, 1080i, 1080p, and 4K for pictures and videos only)[9][10]
Graphics Semi-custom AMD GCN Radeon (integrated into APU)
Controller input DualShock 4, PlayStation Move, PlayStation Vita
Camera PlayStation Camera
Connectivity 802.11 b/g/n Wireless, Bluetooth 2.1, USB 3.0, Ethernet 10/100/1000
Online services PlayStation Network
Backward
compatibility
PlayStation Now cloud-based emulation
Predecessor PlayStation 3
Website playstation.com/ps4/

The PlayStation 4 (officially abbreviated as PS4) is a home video game console from Sony Computer Entertainment. Announced as the successor to the PlayStation 3 during a press conference on February 20, 2013, it was launched on November 15, 2013 in North America, and November 29, 2013 in Europe and Australia.[11][12] It competes with Nintendo's Wii U and Microsoft's Xbox One, as an eighth generation of video game consoles.

Departing from the more complex Cell architecture of its predecessor, the PlayStation 4 features an AMD x86-64 Accelerated Processing Unit, in hopes of attracting a broader range of developers and support for the system. The PlayStation 4's GPU can perform 1.843 teraflops.[13] Sony calls the PlayStation 4 "the world's most powerful console",[citation needed] and speaking to Edge magazine, numerous game developers described the performance difference between the PS4 and Xbox One as "significant" and "obvious".[14]

The console enables interactivity with other services and devices through the PlayStation App, designed to enhance gameplay by using iOS and Android mobile devices; PlayStation Now, a cloud-based subscription gaming service that offers streaming video game content;[15] and wireless Remote Play, a feature that enables users to activate the PlayStation 4 from a distance away, in order to continue playing on a secondary screen, such as PlayStation Vita, a Sony tablet or smartphone.[16][17]

Sony has placed emphasis on social gameplay. The new controller incorporates a "share" button, enabling the capture of screenshots and video. Players can broadcast or spectate gameplay streamed live, and a feature named Share Play allows users to invite a friend to join a play session, even if they do not own a copy of the game.

During the 2014 fiscal year, PS4 topped global console sales.[18]

History

PlayStation 4 at E3 2013

According to lead architect Mark Cerny, development of Sony's fourth video game console began as early as 2008.[19] Less than two years earlier, the PlayStation 3 had launched after months of delays due to issues with production.[20] The delay placed Sony almost a year behind Microsoft's Xbox 360, which was already approaching unit sales of 10 million by the time the PS3 launched.[20] PlayStation Europe CEO Jim Ryan said Sony wanted to avoid repeating the same mistake with PS3's successor.[21]

In designing the system, Sony worked with software developer Bungie, who offered their input on the controller and how to make it better for shooting games.[22] In 2012, Sony began shipping development kits to game developers, consisting of a modified PC running the AMD Accelerated Processing Unit chipset.[23] These development kits were known as "Orbis".[24]

In early 2013, Sony announced that an event known as PlayStation Meeting 2013 would be held in New York City, U.S., on February 20, 2013, to cover the "future of PlayStation".[25][26] Sony officially announced the PlayStation 4 at the event.[27][28] They revealed details about the console's hardware and discussed some of the new features it will introduce.[27][29] Sony also showed off real-time footage of games in development, as well as some technical demonstrations.[30][31] Sony then released more information about the console and unveiled the device itself in June 2013 at the Electronic Entertainment Expo.[32]

The company revealed release dates for North America, Central America, South America, Europe and Australia, as well as final pieces of information, at a Gamescom press event in Cologne, Germany, on August 20, 2013. The console was released on November 15, 2013 in the United States and Canada, followed by further releases on November 29, 2013.[3] By the end of 2013, the PS4 was launched in more European, Asian and South American countries, ahead of the console's Japanese début on February 22, 2014.[33][34]

Sony finalized a deal with the Chinese government in May 2014 to sell its products in mainland China, and the PS4 will be the first product to be released. Chief executive, Kazuo Hirai, said in May: "The Chinese market, just given the size of it, is obviously potentially a very large market for video game products ... I think that we will be able to replicate the kind of success we have had with PS4 in other parts of the world in China."[35]

Hardware

The technology in the PlayStation 4 is similar to the hardware found in personal computers.[36] This familiarity should make it easier and less expensive for game studios to develop games for the PS4.[37][38]

Technical specifications

"[We] have not built an APU quite like that for anyone else in the market. It is by far the most powerful APU we have built to date".

— John Taylor, AMD[39]

The PlayStation 4 uses a processor developed by AMD in cooperation with Sony. It combines a central processing unit (CPU) and graphics processing unit (GPU), as well as other components such as a memory controller and video decoder.[40] The CPU consists of two quad-core Jaguar modules totaling 8 x86-64 cores.[40][41] The GPU consists of 18 compute units to produce a theoretical peak performance of 1.84 TFLOPS.[31] The system's GDDR5 memory is capable of running at a maximum clock frequency of 2.75 GHz (5500 MT/s) and has a maximum memory bandwidth of 176 GB/s.[31][42][43] The console contains 8 GB of GDDR5 memory,[31][44] 16 times the amount of RAM found in the PS3 and is expected to give the console considerable longevity.[36][45] It also includes secondary custom chips that handle tasks associated with downloading, uploading, and social gameplay.[46][47] These tasks can be handled seamlessly in the background during gameplay or while the system is in sleep mode.[48] The console also contains an audio module, which can support in-game chat as well as "a very large number" of audio streams for use in-game.[49]

Its read-only optical drive is capable of reading Blu-ray Discs at speeds of up to three times that of the PS3's.[45][50] The console features a hardware on-the-fly decompression module boosting optical disc reading speed and buffer unread data when a game is not actively accessing the optical drive.[49] Although the console supports photos and videos at 4K resolution, the system is not expected to render games at 4K.[51][52] The console includes a 500 gigabyte hard drive for additional storage,[53] which can be upgraded by the user.[54]

The PlayStation 4 features Wi-Fi and Ethernet connectivity, Bluetooth, and two USB 3.0 ports.[31][45] An auxiliary port is also included for connection to the PlayStation Camera, a motion detection digital camera device first introduced on the PS3.[31] A mono headset, which can be plugged into the DualShock 4, is bundled with the system.[55] Audio/video output options include HDMI TV and optical S/PDIF audio.[31] The console does not have an analog audio/video output.[56]

The PS4 features a "Rest mode" feature. This places the console in a low-power state, while allowing users to immediately resume their game or app once the console is awoken. The console also is able to download content such as game and OS updates while it is in this state.[57][58]

Controllers

Main articles: DualShock 4 and PlayStation Move
PlayStation Move controllers

DualShock 4 is the PlayStation 4's primary controller.[59] Similar to the DualShock 3, it connects to the console via Bluetooth 2.1+EDR.[60] The DualShock 3, however, is not compatible with the PS4.[61] The DualShock 4 is equipped with several new features, including a built-in two-point capacitative touch pad on the front of the controller, which is clickable.[55] The controller supports motion detection via a three-axis gyroscope and three-axis accelerometer and improved vibration,[55][60] as well as being the first PlayStation first-party controller to feature official support for the Windows PC platform.[62] It includes a non-removable,[63] rechargeable lithium-ion battery tentatively capable of storing 1000 mAh.[55] The tentative design weighs 210 g (7.4 oz), has dimensions of 162 × 52 × 98 mm (6.4 × 2.0 × 3.9 in), and has a rubber or etched plastic backing to enhance grip.[60][63]

DualShock 4 controller

The controller features several output connectors. A stereo headphone jack supports the connection of regular earphones or a headset to allow a user to speak and hear audio simultaneously.[60] A micro-USB port, an extension port, and a mono speaker is also included. The controller can be charged via micro-USB, a dedicated charging station, or the console (even when the console is off).[55]

DualShock 4 features the following buttons: PS button, SHARE button, OPTIONS button, directional buttons, action buttons (triangle, circle, cross, square), shoulder buttons (R1/L1), triggers (R2/L2), analog stick click buttons (L3/R3) and a touch pad click button.[55] These mark several changes from the DualShock 3 and other previous PlayStation controllers. The START and SELECT buttons have been merged into a single OPTIONS button.[55][63] The SHARE button allows players to upload videos from their gameplay experiences.[55] The joysticks and triggers have been redesigned based on developer input.[55] The joysticks now features a concave surface.[63]

DualShock 4 also features a light bar that can display different colors. The colors help identify players and alert them with critical messages such as low health.[55] It also interacts with a camera attachment that perceives movement and depth by using the controller's light bar. It is based on the existing technology used in the PlayStation Move. Existing PlayStation Move controllers are supported on the PS4.[60][64]

Camera

PlayStation Camera

PlayStation Camera is an optional motion sensing accessory for the PlayStation 4. It includes two 1280×800px lenses operating with an aperture of f/2.0, with 30 cm focusing distance, and an 85° field of view.[55] The dual camera setup allows for different modes of operation, depending on the target application.[65] The two cameras can be used together for depth-sensing of objects in its field of vision,[66] akin to the Xbox's Kinect peripheral.[67] Alternatively, one of the cameras can be used for generating the video image, with the other used for motion tracking.[68]

PlayStation Camera also features a four-channel microphone array,[55] which helps reduce unwanted background noise and may even be used to receive voice commands.[65] It is tentatively set to be 186 × 27 × 27 mm (7.3 × 1.1 × 1.1 in) (width × height × depth), with a weight of 183 grams (6.5 oz).[55] It records video in RAW and YUV (uncompressed) formats and connects to the console via an auxiliary port.[53][55][59]

Virtual reality headset

On March 19, 2014, Sony unveiled "Project Morpheus," a virtual reality device for the PlayStation 4 featuring a head-mounted display with 1080p resolution and a 90 degree field of view. Project Morpheus is not the final product and is still a work in progress. There has yet to be any confirmation on pricing and release date for the public.[69]

Software and services

PlayStation 4 user interface.

The PlayStation 4's operating system is called "Orbis OS", based upon a customized FreeBSD 9.0.[70][71][72]

The PlayStation 4 does not require an Internet connection to function, although it will provide more functionality when it is connected to the internet.[73] The PS4 includes a WebKit based web browser, which is a departure from the PS3 which uses the NetFront browser. The PS4 browser is based on the same modern Webkit core as Google Chrome and Apple Safari, giving it a high score in HTML5 compliance testing, putting it atop of all the consoles.[74]

The PlayStation 4 introduces a new customizable interface titled PlayStation Dynamic Menu, featuring a variety of colour schemes.[58] The interface displays the player's identity, recent activity, and other details in addition to unlocked trophies.[75] A PS4 can have multiple user accounts, all with their own passcode. Each player account has the option to use real names with friends, or a nickname in other situations when anonymity is important. Facebook profiles can be connected to PlayStation Network accounts, making it easier to recognize friends.[76] The home screen features real time content from online friends. The "What's new" activity feed includes shared media, recently played games and other notifications.[31] Services from third-party vendors, such as Netflix and Amazon Instant Video, are also accessible within the new interface.[77] It is possible to multitask during gameplay, such as opening a web browser or managing party chat and switching rapidly between applications by double-tapping the PS button.[31]

A camera or microphone enables users to control the system through voice input. The PS4 comes with a microphone which plugs into the controller. Players can navigate the user interface, start a game, take screenshots and save videos. Saying "PlayStation" initiates voice control, and "All Commands" displays a list of possible commands.[78]

Multimedia features

The PlayStation 4 system software supports Blu-ray disc playback (including 3D) and DVD playback. Playing a CD is not supported.[79] Music and video files can be streamed from DLNA media servers and USB drives using the Media Player app.[80]

PlayStation Network

Main article: PlayStation Network

The PlayStation 4 allows users to access a variety of free and premium PlayStation Network (PSN) services, including the PlayStation Store, PlayStation Plus subscription service, PlayStation Music subscription service powered by Spotify, and the PlayStation Video service, which allows owners to rent or buy TV shows and films a la carte.[31] A United States-only cloud-based television programming service known as PlayStation Vue began beta testing in late November 2014.[81][82] Sony intends to expand and evolve the services it offers over the console's lifespan.[83] Unlike PS3, a PlayStation Plus membership is required to access multiplayer in most games; this requirement does not apply to free-to-play or subscription-based titles.[84]

Second screen and streaming

Main articles: PlayStation App and Remote Play

Smartphones, tablets, and the PlayStation Vita can interact with the PlayStation 4 as second screen devices.[31] Companion devices can also wake the console from sleep mode.[85]

A PlayStation Vita can be used for streaming video directly from the console to the handheld, allowing supported games to be played remotely.[86] Sony hopes to make all PS4 games playable on PlayStation Vita.[31] Developers can add Vita-specific controls for use via Remote Play.[87]

PlayStation App allows iOS and Android mobile devices to interact with the PlayStation 4, similar to Xbox SmartGlass.[31][88][89][90] Gamers can use this application to, for example, purchase PS4 titles while away from console and have them remotely downloaded to it, watch live streams of other gamers, and view in-game maps while playing games.[31]

Social features

"Ustream's integration within PS4 consoles will put gamers on a new media field. They will have the ability to direct, produce, and star in their own video game production, simply by being an awesome (or not so awesome!) gamer."

— Ustream co-founder Brad Hunstable[91]

Sony is focused on "social" aspects as a major feature of the console.[83] Although the PS4 has improved social functionality, the features are optional and can be disabled.[83]

Media sharing

The DualShock 4 controller includes a "SHARE" button, allowing the player to cycle through the last 15 minutes of gameplay to select a screenshot or video clip appropriate for sharing. Media is uploaded seamlessly from the console to other PSN users or social networking sites such as Dailymotion, Facebook, Twitter and YouTube, or else users can copy media to a USB flash drive and upload to a social network or website of their preference.[92]

Live broadcasting

Gamers can browse live video of titles their friends are playing through the PS4 interface, with cross-game camera and microphone input, spectate or broadcast live video of one's own gameplay via public services Twitch, Ustream or Niconico, allowing friends to view and comment on them from other web browsers and devices.[31][93][94]

Share Play

The Share Play feature allows users to invite an online friend to join their play session via streaming, even if they do not own the game. Users can either pass control of the game entirely to the remote user, or partake in cooperative multiplayer as if they were physically present. Mark Cerny says remote assistance is particularly useful when confronted by a potentially game defeating obstacle. "You can even see that your friend is in trouble and reach out through the network to take over the controller and assist them through some difficult portion of the game." Share Play requires a PlayStation Plus subscription and can only be used for one hour at a time.[95][96]

Games

PlayStation 4 games are distributed at retail on Blu-ray Disc, and digitally as downloads through the PlayStation Store.[97] Games are not region-locked, so titles purchased in one region can be played on consoles in all regions,[98] and players can sign into any PS4 console to access their entire digital game library.[99]

All PlayStation 4 games must be installed to the console's storage: users can begin to play portions of a game (such as opening levels) once the installation or download reaches a specific point, while the remainder of the game is downloaded or installed in the background. Updates to games and system software are also downloaded in the background and while in standby.[49] PS4 users will, in the future, be able to browse titles and stream games via Gaikai to demo them almost instantaneously.[31][100]

Sony say they are committed to releasing an ever-increasing number of free-to-play games, including H1Z1 and PlanetSide 2.[101][102] As part of a strategy to attract a wide range of developers to the system and further broaden its appeal, Sony also took steps to make it easier for indie game developers to publish titles for the PS4.[103][104]

PlayStation Now

In December 2013, Andrew House indicated that Sony was planning to launch a cloud gaming service for the PS4 in North America within the third quarter of 2014, with a European launch to follow in 2015.[105][106] At Consumer Electronics Show on January 7, 2014, Sony unveiled PlayStation Now, a service which will initially allow users to access PlayStation 3 games on the PS4 via a cloud-based streaming system, purchasing games individually or via a subscription.[107] The United States Open Beta went live on July 31, 2014.[108] The official United States release of the service was on January 13, 2015.[109] PlayStation Now is in closed Beta in the United Kingdom.[110]

Reception

Pre-release

"It's abundantly clear that PS4 is being driven as a collaboration between East and West, as opposed to a dictation from one side to the other. Developers are fully involved, activated, discussed and doing really cool collaborative things."

Mark Rein, Epic Games[111]

Pre-release reception to the console from developers and journalists was positive. Mark Rein of Epic Games praised the "enhanced" architecture of Sony's system, describing it as "a phenomenal piece of hardware".[111] John Carmack, programmer and co-founder of id Software, also commended the design by saying "Sony made wise engineering choices",[112] while Randy Pitchford of Gearbox Software expressed satisfaction with the amount of high-speed memory in the console.[113]

Numerous industry professionals have acknowledged the PlayStation 4's performance advantage over the Xbox One. Speaking to Edge magazine, multiple game developers have described the difference as "significant" and "obvious".[14] ExtremeTech says the PS4's graphics processing unit offers a "serious advantage" over the competition, but due to the nature of cross-platform development, titles that share the same assets will appear "very similar". In other cases, designers may tap some of PS4's additional power in a straightforward manner, to boost frame rate or output at a higher resolution, whereas games from Sony's own first-party studios that take full advantage of the hardware "will probably look significantly better than anything on the Xbox One."[114]

Eurogamer called the graphics technology in the PS4 "impressive" and an improvement from the difficulties developers experienced on the PlayStation 3.[45] Ted Price, president and CEO of Insomniac Games, said: "As a longtime partner of Sony's we've enjoyed some pretty awesome console tech over the last couple of decades and it looks like the PS4 will continue that trend. I think most of us in the console development world are always looking for more horsepower, more memory, more storage, faster load times... Sony showed clear evidence that we're getting those boosts with this console. However since we at Insomniac love creating new IP, what seems particularly cool is the Gaikai streaming which should allow you to experience console IP on different types of devices."[115]

In response to concerns surrounding the possibility of DRM measures to hinder the resale of used games (and in particular, the initial DRM policies of Xbox One, which did contain such restrictions), Jack Tretton explicitly stated during Sony's E3 press conference that there would be "no restrictions" on the resale and trading of PS4 games on physical media, while software product development head Scott Rohde specified that Sony was planning to disallow online passes as well, going on to say that the policies were designed to be "consumer-friendly, extremely retailer-friendly, and extremely publisher-friendly."[116][117] After Sony's E3 2013 press conference, IGN responded positively to Sony's attitude towards indie developers and trading games, stating they thought "most gamers would agree" that "if you care about games like [Sony] do, you'll buy a PlayStation 4."[118] PlayStation 4's removable and upgradable hard drive also drew praise from IGN, with Scott Lowe commenting that the decision gave the console "another advantage" over the Xbox One, of which the hard drive cannot be accessed.[119]

GameSpot called the PlayStation 4 "the gamer's choice for next-generation", citing its price, lack of restrictive digital rights management, and most importantly, Sony's efforts to "acknowledge its consumers" and "respect its audience" as major factors.[120]

Post-release

The PlayStation 4 has received mostly positive reviews from critics. Scott Lowe of IGN gave it an 8.2 rating out of 10 praising the console's DualShock 4 design and social integration features. He criticized the console's lack of software features and for underutilizing the DualShock 4's touch pad.[121] The Gadget Show gave a similar review complimenting the DualShock 4's new triggers and control sticks, in addition to the new Remote Play feature, yet criticized the system's lack of media support at launch.[122] IGN compared the Xbox One and the PlayStation 4 over various categories, allowing their readers to vote for their preferred system. The PS4 won every category offered, and IGN awarded the PS4 with their People's Choice Award.[123]

Shortly following the launch, it became apparent that some games released on multiple platforms were available in higher resolutions on the PS4 as opposed to other video game consoles. Kirk Hamilton of Kotaku reported on the differences in early games such as Call of Duty: Ghosts and Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag which ran in 720p and 900p, respectively, on the Xbox One yet ran at 1080p on the PS4.[124] Paul Tassi of Forbes later compared the viewpoints surrounding resolutions and frame rates on the competing video game consoles, and concluded that while graphical differences can be generally unnoticeable to most gamers, the perception of being underpowered may persuade more consumers over time to choose the PS4 over the Xbox One.[125]

Retail configurations

Sales

Region Units sold
France 1 million as of 17 December 2014[126]
South Africa 40,000 as of 17 October 2014[127]
Germany 1.6 million as of 3 May 2014[128][129]
Japan 1.4 million as of 26 April 2015[130]
Spain 700,000 as of 17 June 2015[131]
United Kingdom 2 million as of 5 May 2015[132]
Worldwide 22.3 million as of 31 March 2015[5]

Demand for PlayStation 4 was strong. In August 2013, Sony announced the placement of over a million preorders for the console,[133] while on the North American launch date alone, one million PlayStation 4 consoles were sold.[134] In the UK, the PlayStation 4 became the best-selling console at launch, with the sale of 250,000 consoles within a 48-hour period[135] and 530,000 in the first five weeks.[136]

On January 7, 2014, Andrew House announced in his Consumer Electronics Show (CES) keynote speech that 4.2 million PS4 units had been sold by the end of 2013,[137] with over 9.7 million software units sold.[138] On February 18, 2014, Sony announced that, as of February 8, they had sold over 5.3 million console units following the release of the PS4 onto the North American and Western European markets.[139][140] Within the first two days of release in Japan during the weekend of February 22, 2014, 322,083 consoles were sold.[141] PS4 software unit sales surpassed 20.5 million on April 13, 2014.[142] During Japan's 2013 fiscal year, heightened demand for the PS4 helped Sony top global console sales beating Nintendo for the first time in eight years.[18]

According to data released by Nielsen on in August 2014, nine months after the PS4 was released, thirty-one percent of its sales were to existing Wii and Xbox 360 owners, none of which currently owned a PS3.[143] At Gamescom 2014, it was announced that 10 million PS4 units have been sold through to consumers worldwide,[144] and on October 31, 2014, Sony announced that 3.3 million PS4 units were sold in the third quarter of 2014, bringing the total sold worldwide to 13.5 million as of September 30.[145][146][147][148] On November 13, it was announced that the PlayStation 4 was the top-selling console in the U.S. for the tenth consecutive month.[149] In their first sales announcement of 2015, Sony confirmed on January 4 that the PlayStation 4 has sold 18.5 million units,[5] and a February 2015 financial report stated that 19.9 million consoles had been shipped to retailers.[150]

In their second sales announcement of the year, Sony confirmed over 20 million consoles sold on March 3, 2015.[151] In their third sales announcement of the year, Sony announced they have sold over 22 million consoles as of March 31, 2015.[152] The PlayStation 4 holds a market share of at least 70% within all European countries, as of June 2015.[153]

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