Sony announces PlayStation 4… sort of

It wasn’t quite the announcement everyone was expecting, but at least we know Sony is serious about the next generation of its gaming platform, with a showing of video games, the controller, and a smattering of specs.

Rumoured for roughly two years, the next version of the PlayStation is actually coming, and Sony has shown us a preview of the successor to the Cell-powered gaming console that lasted the company for over five years.

The new version has the fairly expected name of “PS4,” which we’re sure surprises no one, but will include some interesting hardware which essentially brings it closer to that of a Windows PC.

We highly doubt it will run Microsoft’s operating system, but you will find an AMD made processor running eight cores in this console, not just the two or four you find in the current crop of computers.

Sony is also adding 8GB RAM to help it process games, apps, and other data very quickly, as well as a new AMD Radeon graphics chip capable of producing 1.84 teraflops, which is a very fast graphics chip altogether.

Blu-ray is still going to be there – your collection is safe – as well as support for DVD, and the inclusion of USB 3.0, wired Ethernet, wireless network connectivity over 802.11 b/g/n, and surprisingly an older form of Bluetooth (2.1).

Specs are all well and good, but Sony is going beyond the hardware design, even throwing in support for smartphones and tablets, embracing the whole second screen mentality to let devices from iOS and Android explore other parts of the game, similar to what Microsoft did with Smartglass in the Xbox 360 last year.

Backwards compatibility is, as per usual with Sony products, not quite what you’re going to expect, and sadly, you can’t just throw your PS3 titles straight in and expect them to work.

In the new console, Sony will make use of the Gaikai streaming service to send Sony’s back catalogue to its new platform, featuring PS3 titles at the start, but eventually including games going back as far as the original PlayStation and its popular PlayStation 2 sibling. We’re hoping Kingdom Hearts gets a mention here.

There will be more features coming, including the ability to share videos from what you’ve played, a suspend mode which goes beyond needing to load from a simple save game, and some pretty impressive graphics, as demonstrated by some of the titles on show.

The next Killzone title looks pretty nice.

Sadly, Sony hasn’t yet given us a glimpse of what the actual PlayStation 4 will look like, showing us the new evolved controller, which looks very close to what was leaked last week, and includes a form of touch controlling in games.

Announced titles include a new first-person shooter part of the “Killzone” franchise, a follow-up to superhero title “inFamous,” first-person racing game “Drive Club,” and a new title from “LittleBigPlanet” makers Media Molecule which will have you sculpt characters and objects using PlayStation Move accessories.

Pricing and availability have yet to be talked about, though some retailers are already suggesting things that may or may not be true, with Sony not mentioning specifics like these details.

Rather, those of us interested in the next PlayStation will have to wait until June when Sony reveals more at the Electronic Entertainment Expo.