Taking a look at those pesky PlayStation Orbis rumors

playstation 4Who’s ready to spend some money? The next console round is revving up, and the rumors are beginning to queue up thanks to the PlayStation 4 recently stirring up a bevy of anticipation this week, and possibly some hard feelings as well.

The Orbis, the tentative name being placed on Sony’s up coming offering, was first unearthed by sources at Kotaku. The game news site seems to be hung up on the “Orbis Vita” pairing, which means “the circle of life,” though its not yet clear if Orbis will just be a codename like Xbox’s Durango. Along with some specs and a closer pinpoint of the release date, possible designs for upgraded motion sensing integrated with smartphones point to another potential focus for the next-gen console wars. One point of contention stirred up by the recent rumors is the way Sony, and possibly all the new consoles, may be approaching game releases in the future. Here’s a brief run-down on the more meaty rumors, what we expect and what we’d like to see here at Digital Trends. Let’s get to the speculating and gossip.

Rumor rundown

While Sony’s Kaz Hirai has denied rumors that we’ll be seeing anything but a 10-year life cycle for the PlayStation 3, as well as definite no regarding a possible E3 2012 debut for the PS4, the new rumors are pointing to the new Playstation being out in time for Christmas 2013, and maybe even earlier if the newest rumors are to be believed. A next year release seems to coincide with the the rumors surrounding Microsoft’s 720 release date—Sony apparently won’t be giving Microsoft a year’s head start to for game development this round. Developers have reportedly been receiving dev kits for the PlayStation 4, and will continue to receive improved versions till the end of 2012 according to Kotaku, ensuring a worthy line-up for the launch.

Southern Islands 7970Hardware-wise, The Orbis will reportedly be packing an AMD x64 CPU and a Southern Islands GPU. Incidentally, rumors surrounding the Xbox 720 say the device will not have a Southern Islands (7000 series) GPU, but more likely an AMD 6000 series GPU. But both consoles will most likely have much better processing power than whatever the Wii U is bringing to the table (sorry Nintendo).

Sony has previously stated that they won’t be looking at as huge an initial investment in the new console as they did with the PS3 with its Blu-ray and Cell processor; hopefully that still means a cheaper console. The abandonment of the Cell processor could mean better gaming options for consumers. As far as the library goes, it might be less annoying for developers to work with the more mainstream chipset, enticing more new games and ports. The Southern Islands GPU will allegedly be able to display games at a resolution of 4096×2160.

Two rumors that seem to be irking fans about the upcoming Orbis is the lack of backwards compatibility from the start – hopefully, you’ve all been weaned from your backwards compatibility hopes with the progression of PS3 versions. Then there is the restrictions that will be put on used games, which somewhat flies in the face of GameStop’s claims to the contrary earlier this month.

PS4 users will be able to buy either a Blu-Ray version (yup, a disc drive) of their game, or digitally through a PSN download. Both ways will require a single PSN network account in order to “authenticate” the new game. Used games will still be usable, but barely, as Kotaku seems to believe that it will be necessary to pay to unlock the used game which will have content restrictions. This wouldn’t be the first time that video games have been implanted with diminished gaming value for used sales.

Keep in mind, of course, that all these claims are unsubstantiated by Sony itself, which has declined to comment (definition = rumors).

Sensory experience and mobile

Another rumor that has cropped up recently is what looks to be an upgrade of the PlayStation’s motion sensing experience. Since its launch in September of 2010, the PlayStation Move has been pushed aside by the Kinect, orbis motion sensorwhich roughly sold the same amount of units in its first two months after launch as Sony’s product had sold by summer of 2011. Rather than the incomplete novelty of the Wii Remote, motion sensor technology could be integral to the gameplay of the generation eight consoles. It’ll be interesting as well to see how both Sony, as well as Xbox, integrate their virtual reality headset projects with motion sensors.

A design firm named Coque Design was caught by Kotaku showing off some sketches labeled specifically for the PlayStation Orbis (which were promptly removed from the design firm’s site). The device being used does not look anything like the PlayStation Move wand–rather more like an Apple device–though the device on top of the television looks like a PlayStation Eye. Could the iPhone-looking device betray a move to better integrate mobile technology with console gaming?

It’s no secret that mobile gaming has been not very nice to the consoles, with critics even saying that mobile gaming will kill the console at some point. Some game developers, like David Plfedlt of Ubisoft Massive, have said that mobile games offer increased freedoms over console development, while others like DICE’s Patrich Bach believe that mobile gaming will create more options for gamers, but won’t ever supplant the core gaming market.  

Finding a way to integrate the two in a satisfying and complementary way will likely be one of the next big steps in gaming.

Game delivery

Backwards compatibility looks like it’ll be a moot point right now, and anyways, the majority of consumer outrage seems to be directed towards the used gaming restrictions. Gamesindustry believes that Sony would be shooting itself in the foot with this move, alienating customers that Microsoft would eagerly swoop in on, though the Xbox rumors point to a similar anti-used game move. Aside from hurting Sony’s relationship with Gamestop, the move could also affect game rental services like Gamefly and Redbox. On the backwards compatibility front, Sony may be looking at selling older PlayStation 3, and older generation, titles via the PlayStation network.

Sony in general seems to preparing for a more digital battle, changing the PSN to SEN (Sony Entertainment Network) and promising to “enhance its unique digital entertainment offering.” That goes along with rumors requiring gamers to lock games to a single PSN account and offering of full retail title downloads. Then there’s PlayStation delving deeper into cloud computing. Sony may be hedging its bets, and may possibly work on slowly weaning consumers off of physical discs themselves, just as it did with the backwards compatibility we had gotten comfortable with beginning with the PS2. The rapid decline of physical vs digital movie watching could possibly be an indicator of a change in video games that Sony is anticipating, though connection speeds across the US, and especially globally, may hamper full realization any time soon.

Further pointing to the digital battleground, is Microsoft’s avalanche of Xbox live digital entertainment updates, you can be sure Microsoft will carry that focus onto the next generation. Then there’s Valve’s rumored gaming console which will use a NVIDIA GPU and will incorporate EA’s Origin game download service. No dev kits will be necessary for the “Steam Box,” and with the right pricing this console could cause a little trouble.

Future tense

On the top of the list, in the face of slumping console game sales, here’s hoping that Sony develops an ingenious new model  (perhaps involving more free-to-play titles). Also, expect a better launch lineup. Based on the way the PS Vita launch was handled, and the rumors pointing to a better relationship with game developers, Sony won’t skimp on the number of games this time around. The earlier launch date makes a lot of sense, despite what Sony representatives say. Letting the other consoles get a toehold again isn’t a good idea. As Microsoft rumors are pointing to Blu-ray, expect Sony to match the Xbox’s digital entertainment enthusiasm as well as a harder push to overtake the motion sensor market. The anti-used game rumors will probably be true (at least to a degree), and consumer outrage will only delay the move at best. Lastly, Orbis will be acceptable as a name, but not as a shape. Let’s hope Sony keeps the new console small, but square.

Movies & TV

A ‘Venom’ sequel is on its way, and Spider-Man could play a role

'Venom' screenwriter Jeff Pinker confirms that a follow-up to Sony's Spider-Man spin-off is in the works. Could a certain friendly neighborhood webslinger join the action? Pinker says that it's "not impossible."
Deals

Check out the best Xbox One deals and bundles for December 2018

Microsoft's consoles are just as capable of streaming movies as they are of playing the latest games. Check out our top Xbox One deals and bundles, which include new and upcoming triple-A games like Battlefield V and Fallout 76.
Gaming

Xbox One S vs. PlayStation 4 Slim: Which console is worth your money?

Microsoft's new Xbox One S and Sony's PlayStation 4 "Slim" have bucked the generational gaming console trend. But which of these stopgap systems is worth spending your paycheck on?
Gaming

How to keep a PS4 in your pocket with the PlayStation Mobile app

Sony built the PlayStation 4 with smartphone and mobile integration in mind. Take a look at our guide for connecting your smartphone or tablet to a PS4, so you can browse profiles, trophies, and other content directly on your mobile device.
Gaming

Here's where Xur is and what he has for wares this week in 'Destiny 2: Forsaken'

The weekly vendor in Destiny 2: Forsaken always brings Exotic weapons and armor, some of the toughest loot to find in the game. Here's everything you need to know to track down Xur: Where he is, when he shows up, and what he's stocking.
Gaming

‘Fortnite’ removes the Infinity Blade weapon after player backlash

Following player backlash over the Infinity Blade weapon's inclusion in Fortnite's battle royale mode, Epic Games decided to remove the weapon from the game completely. It was not limited to a special mode.
Gaming

Want every suit in 'Marvel's Spider-Man' for PS4? Here's how to get them all

Marvel's Spider-Man features a whopping 33 different suits for Peter Parker to wear as he swings across New York City knocking out baddies. Here are all the suits and how to unlock them.
Gaming

Everything about 'Red Dead Online', including its new microtransaction store

Red Dead Online will gradually rolled out to Red Dead Redemption 2 players via a beta. We've got all the details about the beta's suite of competitive and cooperative modes, as well as what to expect going forward.
Computing

HDR monitors are beginning to have an impact. Here are the best you can buy

HDR isn't the most common of PC monitor features and is often charged at a premium, but the list of available options is growing. These are the best HDR monitors you can buy right now.
Virtual Reality

Oculus Rift vs. HTC Vive: Prices drop, but our favorite stays the same

The Oculus Rift and HTC Vive are the two big names in the virtual reality arena, but most people can only afford one. Our comparison tells you which is best when you pit the Oculus Rift vs. HTC Vive.
Gaming

Xbox One X vs. PS4 Pro: Which console is more powerful?

Far from cooling down, the console wars are only getting more intense. We compare Microsoft's Xbox One X to Sony's PlayStation 4 Pro to help you decide which premium console is right for you.
Gaming

Find the perfect weapon in 'Call of Duty: Black Ops 4' multiplayer with our guide

Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 has several different guns to choose from in its multiplayer mode, and they're split across multiple classes. Here's a guide to all of them and when you should use them.
Gaming

New ‘Stardew Valley’ content on the way, as game’s maker freezes next project

Stardew Valley creator Eric Barone said that he will continue working on new content for the indie farming simulator. The developer previously said that he will devote all his time to his next game, but that has been placed on hold for now.
Gaming

Underwater survival game ‘Subnautica’ free on Epic Games’ online store

The award-winning underwater survival game Subnautica is currently available as a free download on the Epic Games store. The Steam challenger looks to attract players with a new free game every two weeks.