Talk about a 180-degree turn. Sony reportedly goes from a "we'll ride out the PlayStation 3's success" to a "we're pumping out the PlayStation 4 before the Xbox 720 arrives." This non-disclosed change of heart might be due to former PlayStation boss Kazuo Hirai taking the reins of Sony as of April 1, as gaming is now one of the company's new "pillars." That said, a new "Orbis" console is probably in order to "freshen" the lagging Sony brand.
That leads us to the latest rumor stemming from developers and publishers who have already been informed about the next Sony console. "Top line publishers already know about it," an unnamed source said. “Developers working with publishers – like Ubisoft, for example – already know what’s going on. They’re already working on it."
Prior reports stated that many developers received the Orbis SDK starting in January. However the latest news claims that most developers won't be fully briefed about the console until the end of 2012. Some have even been invited to events in May and June here in the States which will require an NDA (private PS4 showing at E3 2012, anyone?).
"Sony are completely in the belief that they have the jump on Microsoft this time," another unnamed source said. "You should be watching the timing of next year’s E3 keynotes, and who’s going to go first."
The design goalposts for Orbis, including the specs, was put in place at least two years ago. Thus Sony is reportedly "confident" that it will have the console at market ahead of the Xbox 720 next Christmas. It will be based on AMD hardware and support DirectX 11 instead of using a new Cell processor and Sony's proprietary API.
As briefly reported on Monday, Microsoft's next Xbox console will reportedly contain two GPUs that are the equivalent to AMD's 7000 series. One source even said "it's like two PCs taped together," meaning they won't run in CrossFire mode. Instead of taking turns to draw lines of the same object, they'll work independently, drawing separate objects simultaneously.
The upcoming Xbox console will also reportedly feature a CPU with four or six cores, one of which will be reserved for Kinect and another for the operating system. Kinect will be built-in instead of serving as an accessory, and the console itself will require an always-on Internet connection as an anti-piracy method.
Rounding up this latest issue in the Next-Gen Console War battle briefing, there's a little bashing going on in regards to Nintendo's upcoming Wii U console. Developers who are currently working with the device claim that it may have HD graphics, but it's not even on par with the current Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3. "The graphics are just not as powerful," said one unnamed developer.
"Yeah, that's true. It doesn't produce graphics as well as the PS3 or the 360," claims another unnamed developer. "There aren't as many shaders, it's not as capable. Sure, some things are better, mostly as a result of it being a more modern design. But overall the Wii U just can't quite keep up."
Given that Google and Apple scooped up more than half of the game revenue in 2011, are new consoles even really the answer for the Big Three? Deus Ex and Epic Mickey creator Warren Spector says that a new hardware generation isn't the way to go.
"I think most of the problems we have to solve are creative ones, not technical ones," he said in a recent interview. "Obviously we make software, so there's always a technical element to what we do, but I will make games that do whatever I want them to do at the end of the day, and I will use whatever technology [is] available."