Don’t Buy a Playstation 4

Austin Walker has the scoop on the recent rumors regarding a new half-step Playstation 4 upgrade console:

The NEO will feature a higher clock speed than the original PS4, an improved GPU, and higher bandwidth on the memory. The documents we’ve received note that the HDD in the NEO is the same as that in the original PlayStation 4, but it’s not clear if that means in terms of capacity or connection speed. Starting in October, every PS4 game is required to ship with both a “Base Mode” which will run on the currently available PS4 and a “NEO Mode” for use on the new console.

The article has many more details regarding the upgraded console and what Sony will require of developers, but it really doesn’t read like a huge upgrade to me, and it certainly won’t be true 4K. Even a high-end gaming computer can’t hit 4K at a good framerate for big 3D games.

For now, original PS4 purchasers are good, but I would be surprised if a year into the release of this new console the original “base” PS4 isn’t discontinued in favor of the NEO, and then soon after the requirement that developers target both consoles is dropped as well. Either way, don’t buy a Playstation 4 until you hear Sony give plans publicly at E3.

Playstation 4’s PS2 Emulator Disappointment

A few weeks ago there was a rumor that Sony would soon announce some kind of software support for the Playstation 4 to emulate the Playstation 2. It would be a nice favor to players since Sony very quickly dropped Playstation 2 compatibility from the Playstation 3 in order to lower the price of that console’s guts.

The rumor was based on the special edition of the Playstation 4 bundled with Star Wars Battlefront. That bundle also included a code for four older Star Wars games. Star Wars: Racer Revenge, Star Wars: Jedi Starfighter, Super Star Wars, and Star Wars: Bounty Hunter. Super Star Wars originally hails from the Super Nintendo and was actually ported to the Playstation 4, the other three are Playstation 2 games running under emulation.

This was very promising. The emulator appeared to be robust in taking advantage of modern amenities like trophies and upscaling, and generic enough in its implementation by virtually mapping the Dual Shock 4 and virtual PS2-era memory cards to support a range of games instead of just the three in the bundle. The Digital Foundry article analyzing the emulator for the Star Wars games was simply titled “Hands-on with PS4’s PlayStation 2 emulation.”

Why would Sony go to all of this trouble just for three Playstation 2 games? They wouldn’t. Surely it would be for more than just those. A Sony representative vaguely confirmed the coming emulator to Wired.

Surely, surely, surely there would be a generic Playstation 2 emulator coming along any day now where you could just insert a Playstation 2 disc and receive most of these features, maybe trophies would be limited to especially popular games.

Nope.

Instead of attempting to compete with Microsoft’s recent addition of Xbox 360 emulation on the Xbox One, Sony announced that they were simply offering a short list of games for download at $10 or $15. Here’s the list:

$15 Games:
Dark Cloud
Grand Theft Auto III
Grand Theft Auto: Vice City
Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas
Rogue Galaxy
The Mark of Kri

$10 Games:
Twisted Metal: Black
War of the Monsters

People who had already purchased those games can’t just pop in a disc and play them, they have to be repurchased and more games are promised be added for download regularly.

It’s not completely unreasonable to charge that price for a download version of the game, and clearly it would require work per-game to support trophies, but it is incredibly boneheaded to not just drop a generic Playstation 2 emulator and leave out trophy support for games unless they are purchased again.

Almost more boneheaded is that some of these games had already been available for download on the Playstation 3 with an emulator running there, but they’ll still need to be repurchased even for people who bought those versions. I just don’t understand this strategy. Sony has been great with allowing people to purchase games online for the Vita, Playstation 4 or 3 and get the other platforms for free. They even have a goofy marketing name for it, Crossbuy. It should extend to emulated Playstation 2 games.

The only place you can still get a generic Playstation 2 emulator is on a computer with PCSX2. Using this kind of emulator is still finicky enough that I wouldn’t necessarily recommend the experience. Unlike emulators for 16-bit consoles like the Genesis and Super Nintendo where you kind of just choose an emulator, find a ROM image of the game and go, Playstation 1 and 2 emulators are highly dependent upon selecting the right group of plugins to provide support for things like reading the disc, USB input, audio, and video. Sometimes this process has to change depending on the game.

Getting PCSX2 to work for your games is more complicated than sticking a disc into a Playstation 4, but Wes Fenlon has a nice introductory guide up if you’re willing to battle with the open source software and move past the disappointment of Sony’s business decision to not release Playstation 2 emulation to the public on the Playstation 4.

Playstation 4 OS 3.00

John Koller on the Playstation Blog has some of the improvements coming to the Playstation 4‘s operating system. In addition to YouTube’s new streaming service we’re finally getting an increase in storage space for cloud saves:

PS4 online storage capacity has increased from 1GB to 10GB for all PS Plus members. In 3.00 system software, you’ll see that we added a handy usage meter to monitor your available storage capacity, and a new Auto-Upload menu has been added to Application Saved Data Management.

The 1 gigabyte limit was ridiculously small. Microsoft has no storage limit with their cloud save service on the Xbox and while it did require a subscription for the service on Xbox 360 that requirement went away with the Xbox One.

Grow Home on TimeDoctor.org Live

Grow Home is going to be put out on the Playstation 4 soon so I thought this would be as good an excuse as any to go back and play one of my favorite games from earlier this year. You can get it right now on Steam, and I would recommend that you do so. It’s an amazing game.

Playstation 4 Cloud Saves Are Terrible

Stephen Totilo:

In the comparison between PlayStation 4 and Xbox One, Sony is about as behind in how they handle cloud saves as they are in getting their console to run Halo. It’s time for them to close this gap.

The difference is dramatic. While both systems allow users to save game progress to a set of external servers called the cloud, making it easier to resume games on a second console, Microsoft does it in a free, automatic and seemingly unlimited way. Sony does it in an expensive, laborious and stingy way.

Playstation 4 gets DLNA Media Player

Scott McCarthy:

Hello PlayStation Nation! Every time we announce new features for PS4 here on PlayStation.Blog, I love going into the comments to answer your questions and see feedback on which features people really like and which ones people still want to see. One of those questions I have been able to count on has been, “Where is our PS4 media player?”

If you were watching our E3 press conference pre-show, you probably heard the good news — Media Player for the PS4 will be available to download from PlayStation Store this evening. A Media Player icon will appear in the PS4 content area, simply select the icon and you will be taken to the PS Store where you can begin the download.

A DLNA player for the Playstation 4, finally.