PS4 (or Playstation 4 was unveiled by Sony Corporation (NYSE:SNE) (TYO:6758) recently. Sony is launching this new game console seven years after the PS3. The company emphasized advances on the gaming front, such as greater image resolution, and controllers offering light and touch functions. PS4 also offers enhanced features that leverage cloud computing, enabling not only high-speed networked games but downloading of game software and sharing data with the PS Vita or smartphones. The company plans to put the console on sale ready for the 2013 holiday shopping season but has not announced any pricing details.
Yesterday we brought you the initial impressions from the video game nerds and investors. Overall the views about Playstation 4 were positive but with some caveats. Today we are focusing on what analysts at various large firms think about PS4.
From game console to home server
Despite the launch of the PS Vita, Sony has cut its 13/3 estimate for mobile game hardware sales from an initial 16mn units to 7mn, indicating the weak market for dedicated game devices. Although the PS4 is primarily targeted at heavy gamers, the company also sees a role for it as a home server, sharing music and video data with a wide range of other devices. Seamless sharing of data with smartphones and tablets would be a positive step forward for Sony’s network strategy, in our view.
We believe the event was largely as anticipated. With not too many details on Ps4 available yet, it is difficult to draw big conclusions. Still, Sony Corporation (NYSE:SNE) (TYO:6758) may get a slight first mover advantage over Microsoft. The console will launch in the holiday 2013 window.
Key Takeaways on PS4 from Sterne Agee:
The big themes with respect to PS4 include: Simple (easy to develop, consumer friendly, and we believe the console will be cheaper than the original PS3), Immediate (i.e. reduced downtime when restarting a game), Social (controller will allow sharing of videos through a "share" button and facilitate spectating),
Integrated (connectivity with several devices), etc.
While games will primarily be played on physical discs, digital gameplay is expected to become easier, although not much detail was provided on this front. Downloading games will be more efficient, allowing purchased games to be played immediately, before the full game finishes downloading. Additionally, games can download in the background while other games are being played or while the console is turned off. Users will be able to demo games in the Playstation Store prior to purchasing.
PS4 will use data about gamers to predict games they may want to purchase, and pre-install those games for the user prior to the user purchasing the game. Users will be able to purchase games through the Playstation Network, eventually including titles from PS1, PS2, and PS3.
The PS4 comes with a new controller with improved latency, enhanced rumble, a touchpad, a share button, a headphone jack, and a lightbar for motion control via the move technology. Users can stream games to the PS Vita. In other words, a game can be paused on the console, and transferred to the PS Vita to resume play, and vice versa. The console has a new instant sleep mode where gameplay can be suspended, allowing the user to pick up right where they left off when they want to start playing again.
PS4 will allow users to connect to their social networks like Facebook and Ustream to find and play with their friends. We understand that there will not be native backwards compatibility, but the Gaikai technology will allow older titles to be played digitally. Blizzard is bringing Diablo III, a PC game, to the PS3 and PS4. Other announced games include: Deep Down, Knack, Killzone: Shadow Fall, The Witness, Infamous: Second Son, Drive Club, Watch Dogs, and Destiny.
Deutsche Bank analysts note:
The price for PlayStation 4 (PS4) is not set, and launch is planned for the year-end holiday season. The processor is a custom eight-core AMD x86 CPU with an integrated GPU (next-gen Radeon) on the same chip. The console will have 8GB DDR5 memory, a Blu-ray drive, and a HDD. It can also function as a home server, not only for PS3 and earlier titles, but will also support remote play of PS4 games on a PS VITA.
By downloading special apps, iOS and Android devices can also act as clients. The PS4 incorporates technology from a US firm it purchased (Gaikai) that further enhances networking functions. It will be able to stream games regardless of time and place, and share game experiences via SNS.
Deutche Bank analysts are:
left with a positive overall impression of the announcement. While there were no surprises, we like that the PS4 fully utilizes existing technologies. The impact it will have on revenue is an unknown. We will be watching for 1) the price announcement (possibly around $450 to avoid per-unit losses), 2) how it will utilize existing models such as the PS3, 3) the emergence of synergy effects with other products including TVs, VAIO, and DSCs, and 4) expenditure on servers and software to beef up its network services. We will also be monitoring whether