While the PlayStation 3 celebrates a major milestone even as its sun starts to fade, rumors about the heir to the PlayStation throne continue to leak out of the game development world. The latest details about the fourth generation machine come from Europe, shedding new light on how the PlayStation 4 or Orbis will support 4K resolution output, how used games will be handled by the console, and just how Sony will leverage the recently purchased Gaikai cloud-gaming service in its machine.
British magazine PSM3 (the details of which were reprinted by German website The G Net) provides a wealth of new information to supplement a recent story about the console that confirmed Sony will not call its console PlayStation 4. The reason: The Japanese word for 4 is “shi,” which also happens to mean death. While it might seem silly to break from nearly two decades of successful branding because a two words sound alike, it’s important to remember how branding has negatively affected the Xbox and Xbox 360 in Japan. Where “X” marks the spot in the US, it’s a negative sign in Japanese culture. (Hence why the circle button on PlayStation controllers is used to confirm most actions in Japanese games, not the X button like in the US.)
PSM3’s source claims that the device, which Sony refers to by the codename Orbis, will play games that look similar to recent tech demos for games like Star Wars 1313 and Square-Enix’s Agni’s Philosophy demo. These games, however, will not run in 4K resolution as has been hinted at in the past. If 4K playback support does make it into the final version of the fourth generation PlayStation, it will be for video.
Sony will be taking more severe measures against piracy. Previous rumors about the Orbis suggested that Sony might try to block used, disc-based games from working on the console. This new report claims that it will do so by linking each individual game to a specific PlayStation Network account.
Unlike past Sony consoles, Orbis will not have backwards compatibility with PlayStation 3, at least not with Blu-ray disc games. Sony will instead offer classic games through a cloud-based streaming service run through Gaikai’s infrastructure.
Of all the rumors surrounding the next PlayStation, its lack of backwards compatibility is the most disappointing. PlayStation creator Ken Kutaragi was insistent that every PlayStation made be able to play the previous consoles’ discs at a hardware level. Obviously Sony started moving away from this philosophy swiftly with the very first hardware revisions of the PlayStation 3, but it’s still sad.
The PlayStation 4, Orbis, or whatever Sony decides to name it, is expected to debut at E3 2013.