During an investors conference call on Wednesday, Sony executive vice president and chief financial officer Masaru Kato confirmed that the company is currently working on the PlayStation 4. The news arrives after Nintendo confirmed that its upcoming gaming console dubbed as "Project Cafe" will be revealed during E3 2011 next month.
When asked to explain increased research and development costs, Kato blamed the big spending spree on the PlayStation 3's successor. "For the home equipment the PS3 still has a product life," he said. "But this is a platform business, so for the future platform - when we'll be introducing what product I cannot discuss that - but our development work is already under way, so the costs are incurred there."
Sony Computer Entertainment boss Kaz Hirai sang a different tine back in March, saying that "a near-future PS4 or next-generation home console is not something that we are even debating now." In fact, the current console isn't even middle-aged, with a life expectancy of around ten years. Given that the console was originally birthed by Sony back in November 2006, Hirai is indicating that it won't officially bite the dust until 2016.
But as we've seen with the PlayStation 2 – which is still alive and kicking and receiving a fair dose of new games to this day – two Sony consoles can co-exist in harmony on the market. That said, the whole ten-year lifespan has no relevance to the company launching a new console in the next year. In fact, Nintendo has probably pushed development into high gear thanks to promises that Project Cafe's hardware will be superior to the current PlayStation 3 platform.
To make matters worse, developers have already received prototype development kits for Microsoft’s next-generation Xbox console. "Probably we should watch these companies, in my opinion," said the head of Sony's global games development team, Shuhei Yoshida. "Because PS3 was later than Xbox, and is more powerful, so it has a longer lifespan."
Earlier reports indicated that the PlayStation 4 will support 3D right out of the box, and optical media. "We do business in parts of the world where network infrastructure isn’t as robust as one would hope," Hirai said last year. "There’s always going to be requirement for a business of our size and scope to have a physical medium."
Back in December 2009, reports surfaced that Sony was shopping around for alternatives to the Cell architecture based on the level of frustrations submitted by current PlayStation 3 developers. There has also been talk of using Intel's Larrabee GPGPU alongside the Cell along with rumors of using a modified, upgraded version of the Cell processor that would grant SPUs direct access to the main memory, allowing developers to program for a single memory space.
But with the "future platform" now exposed to the public, Sony may be revealing the fourth-generation PlayStation console next month at E3 2011, stealing some of Nintendo's "new console" spotlight.