Sony’s PlayStation 4: Streaming, Social & Mobile
Sony acknowledged that the stakes are high as it introduced its new Playstation 4 console, saying that the new gaming ecosystem aims to revolutionize play.
The company says the new game is a platform "by game creators, for game creators." Running on the same kind of chip that powers PCs, Sony says this it's running the fastest most powerful game network in the world.
There were few big surprises—most of the details of the new console were exactly as expected. The one big surprise— one that frustrated gamers—was the fact that Sony didn't actually reveal the console itself. While the graphics and gamer experience was showcased, we didn't actually see the box.
The company didn't reveal any pricing details, but it's widely expected to launch this fall in time for the key holiday shopping season. And there was no word about price, but it's likely north of $400.
And with a new console comes a new controller, the "Dual Shock 4." It has a touch pad, a headphone jack, and a camera to track the position of the controller. It also has a "share button" so players can broadcast their play to their friends." Games can be suspended and started by tapping the power button. Sony is also embracing the devices consumers already have – allowing consumers to seamlessly shift games from their TVs to their handheld PS Vita
(Read More: Will the PlayStation 4 Give Sony the Boost It Needs?)
And no surprise, the ability to download games was featured—and drew a big round applause from the audience at the presentation in New York. Sony is allowing players to stream any game to test it, share it with friends if they like it, and then download it from the Internet. The company says "the vision is to reduce download times for digital titles to zero." It's thanks to Sony's $380 million purchase of cloud gaming company Gaikai that it's able to offer games from the cloud.
And if gamers want to play games from the PlayStation 3 console they'll have to stream them—the discs won't work with the new machine.
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Along with the ability to download comes the ability to upload—to share clips or stills of game play. Though there will be some avatars, the idea is for players to interact with their real-life friends when playing. Gamers can browse their friends live game play, or can ask friends to help them out with a particularly tough part of a game.
And the downloading isn't just for games—Netflix, Amazon Prime, and Hulu Plus, along with a number of other content apps, will be available for streaming—and offered as recommendations based on personalized user history.
One company that's walking away a big winner is ActivisionBlizzard. The game maker's shares traded higher after-hours following the announcement.
The final game announcement of Sony's presentation was Blizzard saying it'll release its "Diablo III" PC game on the PS3 and PS4 in the next year. This allows Blizzard to extend its existing intellectual property to a new console—far cheaper than building a new game from scratch. And Playstation's live multi-player mode will keep people playing the new "Diablo III" for long stretches of time.
—By CNBC's Julia Boorstin; Follow her on Twitter: @JBoorstin