Sony's Playstation-less Playstation announcement: what were they thinking?

After a presentation that dragged on for hours, Sony failed to show the assembled game press the gadget they were there to see. The verdict was in before the event was over: another Sony shitshow. The New York Times' Brian X Chen sums it up:
During the 140-minute event, which started at 6 p.m. in New York, the press reactions started with impatience in the first hour, gradually rising to frustration in the second hour and finally, in the third hour, a combination of disbelief and disappointment when the show concluded with no price tag, no shipping date, and not even a prototype or a picture of the PlayStation 4 revealed. Left without a box to review, the press turned on Sony instead.
However, we can EXCLUSIVELY REVEAL the design for the new PS4, above. All is forgiven, Sony!


      1. The funny thing is, if the PS4 actually looked like that, I would be more inclined to buy it.  The featureless black/silver box thing is so overdone now. 

  1. The industry should have thought of that before:  using BetaMax tapes to deliver software.  Videotape can hold a lot more data than cassette tapes or floppies, and the cost per GB is much lower than with ROM chips.

    I gotta check to see how many L-750 tapes I still own to see how many commercial games I can “backup”.

  2. Did the journalists go to the correct event? Was there a neighbouring conference suite with a bunch of disappointed Sony Execs saying, “Where is everyone? Did you send out the invitations?”

  3. They showed the games and the services, wich are the actually important things. And had Johnathan Blow and Media Molecule show some really interesting games. Real games, not concepts renders, not an empty plastic box. It was a good look at what you will be playing.

    Giantbomb has the event up with commentary and analisyse at the end:
    Even they were finding it difficult to be snarky, and that’s usually their thing especially when it comes to press events.

      1. I like how they took the article title from a song that was popular before anyone who reads it was born.

  4. First half-hour was pretty grim corporate burblings. But the exterior casing of the thing really doesn’t matter, and we got some techy details and some explodey demos. Deep Down looks pretty good. Then some guy came out and muttered something about “Fibrous Philately”, and it was all over.

  5. Would the press event have been less poignant an encapsulation of vacuous consumerism if there had been an actual box to ogle? I think this is great. It highlights the absurdity of “tech journalism” (i.e. it’s usually not journalism).

    1.  I agree, does it really matter what the plastic box looks like?

      Perhaps the Sony Store will start featuring a “Build-a-PS4 Workshop” where you can make your own PS4 look like whatever you want.

      1. I agree, does it really matter what the plastic box looks like?

        And why do reporters who cover the auto industry insist on seeing the vehicles when an automotive company rolls out its new line? Aren’t a partial list of fuel efficiency standards, horsepower and maybe a few photos of the interior good enough? After all, it’s not like you can see the outside of the car when you’re driving the car.

        1. Dude… really? If you spend any more time than it takes to press the ‘on’ button looking at your playstation then you’re doing it wrong. Also: I’m pretty infrequently being seen by others while I’m inside my playstation.

          Other things I came here to say (but not in reply to you Brainy):

          1) Pricing would still not be finalised and known by even Sony. They’d have a ballpark, but not specifics. Tech enthusiasts want specifics.

          2) The most reliable rumors suggest it will be available in November but my guess is this is also not set in stone yet.

          3) The case design is an important thing for them to keep secret because Xbox is due to release their next-gen console at the end of this year and they don’t want the competitor knowing more than they need to.

          4) Look at the controller and the light bar and you will have a pretty decent sense of how the box will be styled.

          1. Regarding your four points: I was under the impression that the whole point of holding a press conference for a new product was to provide those kinds of specific information. If you can still only make vague, educated guesses about important aspects of your own product then maybe you shouldn’t invite all the tech journalists to come by yet.

          2. Marketing. I don’t think it’s a very positive human invention, but it does guide public discourse whether we like it or not. Sony wanted to beat MS to the punch like MS beat Sony to the punch in the last round.

            I ask you.. would a device’s physical appearance change your buying decision? If this thing looks exactly like the PS3 most consumers .wont. .care. Thankfully, at least in the world of tech, it seems that informed people usually buy things based on function over form.

          3. This is the thing: Sony provided much, much more specifics than anyone had expected. For instance, nobody had expected that they would show off any aspect of the UI (since it’s presumably still in development), but they did. Nobody had expected this level of detail when it comes to technical specs (8 GB GDDR5!), but they did. They also showed way more games than anybody had expected: there were even some Destiny gameplay footage (not a lot, but you can bet your ass that Sony had to beg Bungie and Activision for that). For god’s sake, they even had Jonathan Blow up there on stage showing The Witness! (how the hell they managed to pull that off is a real mystery)

            For an actual gamer, what the box looks like is pretty much totally uninteresting! Sure, it would have been nice to see it, but who the hell cares, really. We care about what it does, and Sony was much more upfront about that than anybody expected them to be. 

            I’ve liked my 360 more than my PS3 for the last generation, but there’s no doubt Sony made a hugely compelling pitch. 

          4. @Oskar:disqus

            This is the thing: Sony provided much, much more specifics than anyone had expected.

            Certainly no one could have reasonably expected answers to questions like:

            When will it be available?
            How much will it cost?
            What does it look like?
            Does it use any kind of physical media? If so, what?
            Does this thing actually exist or is it still just a vague conceptual piece?

          5. If they are keeping the box design secret because of their brilliant marketing campaign then good on them, however it feels like they are keeping it secret because this thing doesn’t really exist yet and maybe Sony are teetering and desperately trying to inject some energy into the company somewhere.

            In my opinion, they would do well to be crystal clear on that.

    1. The difference being that it’s mererly a feature, rather then the point of the entire system and it looked like it actually worked. It was precise and allowed you to do new things. Easely sculpting and rigging your own puppets for animations and games (like Little Big Planet) sounds great.

  6. “So, how are we going to make people talk about our otherwise boring, same-samey console this year?”

    “I know! Let’s invite them all at this big event, y’know, and then talk about rubbish for hours and NOT show it. We won’t even tell them how much it costs, or whether they’ll be able to buy it at all.”

    “TROLOLOLOL you a genius.”

  7. These events usually only have target renders and a box that ends up being nothing like what you will buy. Now they had real game demos. The reason you actually buy one of these consoles: the games.And everybody is angry? Seriously?

    1. I’m not angry, but the phalanx of tech journalists they invited. . .yeah, they’re pissed and rightly so.  Their articles need to contain some pertinent information (price, specs, release date), and be topped by a nice picture of the new device.  You don’t give tech writers this stuff, after keeping them sitting for more than two hours, you won’t exactly be winning hearts and minds.

    2. Well, perhaps if Sony had actually done anything to persuade anyone that they have a product, rather than a few demos, people would be a bit more understanding.

    3. They had a few game demos and a lot of rendered clips, many of the games shown are multiplatform including PS3. Other than Killzone, what PS4 exclusive actual game footage was there? (I don’t actually know the answer to this question, it was a bit of a blur)

    1. I know I’d snap it up.  Naturally, I’d also check off the “Corinthian Leather” and “chrome ashtray” options.  In fact, they should just drop that ridiculous PS4 moniker and call this baby “The Boss.”

      1. Considering Cory is so popular here, I don’t think surveying Boingers is a particularly good way of making product decisions.

        We’d buy a banana-coloured unicorn wearing a studded leather hot-air balloon.

  8. Maybe I’m a sony fanboy and didn’t know it, but it seems like the big things that people (rightly) knock Sony for are: 
    Their craptastic custom chips are a nightmare to develop for. Ok, the ps4 is x86. 
    Their lousy online service lacks functionality and seems like an afterthought. Ok, the ps4 is built around the online experience. 
    The length of time it takes to actually start playing a game (download, update, rinse, repeat…). Ok, the ps4 does all of that in the background, you can start playing right away. 

    Maybe they didn’t show us the box, but it seems that, for the first time ever, Sony honestly examined their past mistakes and actually tried to correct them rather than just counting on the playstation brand to steamroller the market.  All in all, though the event was a pean to corporate double speak (synergy… ugh…), I thought it was pretty positive.

    1. “Their lousy online service lacks functionality and seems like an afterthought. Ok, the ps4 is built around the online experience. ”

      They didn’t actually say that they had fixed their online service, only that it was mandatory now. 

      1. I’m not saying it won’t be broken, I have pretty much no faith in our beloved corporate masters ability to run a network. But at least with the ps4 the online service will support the features you might expect from a modern system, cross game video and chat, easy matchmaking and discovery and integration with existing social networks (ugh). 

    2. Yep, I though it was pretty impressive. Decent looking games, explaining the new controller, giving some dev-friendly info about the specs – and people are bitching that they didn’t see the console (E3 is only a few months away, makes sense they’d want something for that)?
      Going further, I’ve seen a fair few declare that the PS4 therefore hasn’t been finalised because they didn’t show it (never mind the devkits that have been photographed in the wild). 
      Gamers, man. That and tech bloggers with ADHD *shakes head sadly*

      1. They made a room full of tech reporters sit around for half the day for a non-presentation, of course people got angry.

        It would be like getting a much-hyped invitation to a car company that promises a major announcement, walking into a room that has a velvet sheet covering what appears to be an automobile, and then spending the next four hours listening to someone ramble about new fuel efficiency standards and GPS being offered as a standard feature. “What, you wanted to see what’s under the sheet? Shoo, you! We’ll pull that off at some unspecified future date!”

        1. I must not be all that discerning. What I care about is what the specs are and what games are on it, how it looks is pretty secondary. If it’s got the games I want they could make it look like the severed head of Dom DeLuise and I wouldn’t care.

          1. Well, I don’t really care what it looks like either. But I didn’t have to sit in a press conference for four hours listening to people ramble on and on about a device that apparently doesn’t exist yet and won’t for some unspecified amount of time.

          2. Nope, I raise goats for a living. So, you should treat my opinions with all the intellectual weight that such a lofty position deserves. ;)

          3. So if you spent four hours at an event where you expected to see a new goat breed and all they did was tell you about their ideas about new goat breeds….

          4. IRT your comment below:

            You’ll be surprised to know that I disagree… this is more like them showing you the meat of the goat, just not the goat itself. If i was interested in buying goat I’d be more concerned with what the meat was like than the physical appearance of the goat itself. After all, I’m buying it for the meat, not the goatyness.

          5. I’ve been thinking about this a bit, and I can understand why there might be some (a lot of) frustration, but I think there is a fundamental difference between the launch of a console like the ps4 and the launch of a new car (or goat). With something like a car or a goat, the object is the experience, sitting in the car is about the car. But with a console, the experience is not about the box. It’s about the game, the interface and the controller, all of which Sony showed. Let’s be honest, the ps3 (and to a lesser extent the ps2) had a lot of problems. I think the main purpose of this event was for Sony to say that the ps4 was on the way, and to show that they aren’t going make the same set of mistakes they did with the previous generation (Though, I’m sure they’ll have a whole new set for this gen). So while this event may have been as frustrating as going to a goat show and not seeing any goats, in my view (which, admittedly doesn’t count for much) it was closer to going to microsoft’s office “the next one” announcement and not having someone come on stage with the final retail box in all it’s cardboard glory.

          6. Unless Sony takes goats in trade, it’ll be a while before I can buy one, since I’m pretty sure the price tag is where they’re going to shoot themselves in the foot. Maybe if I threw in a few chickens to sweeten the deal? ;)

      2. It’s not what it looks like; it is that if you are showing a real box with real plastic and can quote a price point, you have a real product. If you can’t do that, you don’t have a product yet.

        1. Really, a standard X86 CPU on a standard AMD motherboard socket using standard DDR3 memory and a standard PCIExpress video interface.

          SHIT, I hope this “new” revolutionary hardware isn’t going to take years to develop! It’s not like all they are doing is borrowing standardized tech from other companies and sticking it together in a proprietary plastic case or anything…. wait FUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUU.

          PS: Seriously though it’s a great piece of hardware for the money, and if developers learn how to squeeze performance out of those 8? GPGPU cores then they got a real winner on their hands. I’m psyched for what the PS4 means for PC gaming =D.

          1. But, wait, they’ve *promised* us that this will be the first console to properly render emotions! There *must* be innovation! Next, you’ll be telling me there’s no Easter Bunny.

    3. I agree 100% with what you said. And I can add this: Sony was bashed after the release of the PS3 for an apparent lack of games. So they showed off games, and developers that are onboard for making more games. They basically covered all the bases of things they were critisized for before, so what is the natural reaction? Journalists find new things to give them kak about. Kinda makes you think that Sony hating is just the trendy thing to do at the moment and all the cool kids are doing it.

  9. So all this time the secret to the success of Apple’s big product reveals was… having an actual product to reveal?

    1. You kid but that’s actually one of the best parts about most Apple hardware announcements: the expectation build-up being released into a buying frenzy after the words “and it will be available… today.”

      Compare with Nokia, who announced their sweet N900 almost a year before shipping the goddamn thing (so many people just gave up and bought iPhones instead), or Microsoft, who took more than three months between announcing and releasing the Surface (and guess how many consumers pushed forward a decision about this sort of impulse-buying gizmo? Zero).

      Marketers think this sort of events keeps the rumour mill going and buys them time, when in fact, in the internet-age consumer arena, it’s often the exact opposite: your wonderful movie is not streamed yet? boom, I don’t care. Your über-gizmo is not for sale? Too late, I’m already on youporn. Your book will come out when? Yeah well, good for you, bud.

      1. I kid not, your assessment is spot on. Microsoft probably could have moved a lot more Surface tablets if they’d had them ready for sale (or even announced what they’d cost) back when people still found the idea exciting.

  10. Sony has been bumbling around for so very long that I would have been shocked had they done things up correctly.  They haven’t gotten anything right since PS2.

    And now that Nintendo is following up their silly leap onto the 3D bandwagon with the Wii U thingy nobody is excited about, we are left with Microsoft as the only entity capable of doing something really nifty to revive gaming from it’s swoon.  Eeek.

    1. I’m guessing you don’t own a PS3?

      Since when did MS do anything ‘nifty’? They do practical. The Xbox is practical and anything that is attributed to them in terms of excellent online services are mostly things they appropriated from the Wii ecosystem.

      an Xbox owner

  11. The Square Enix presentation was surreal. Come see us at E3 and we’ll have something for you to see. In the meantime, here’s a pre-rendered video that has been on YouTube for six months.

  12. Hmm, a stunningly inaccurate representation of the conference and its reception! This is impressive dramatic-headlines journalism, folks! I expect better from BB. The reaction to Sony’s conference has mostly been amazement that they didn’t fuck everything up by focusing on home entertainment or motion controls or something else stupid. Instead they focused on games. It is, by the way, rare for a games console to be revealed in its final form factor at this point in the game. That will come at E3. But hey, “what were they thinking?” just SOUNDS so much better!

  13. You can’t show an outer case of the hardware isn’t finalized. They said right there that the APU and RAM were the only things that were final so far. Once the rest of the components are final, they can design an outer case for them. I presume we’ll see that at E3. This was just to get us talking about PS4. And we are doing just that!

    1. Practically every electronics manufacturer has something in the pipeline that isn’t finished yet, but most of them don’t hold over-hyped, four-hour-long press conferences for those products.

  14. naive comments…all is marketing, a way to push microsoft and all competitors, Sony has the best electronics by far….

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