Sitting down with Sony Computer Entertainment Europe's president and CEO Jim Ryan the morning after the announcement, I asked him which developments of the past six years or so have made the PlayStation 4 possible. Here are the four most significant.
The PS3 Has Been Successful
Improved Internet Infrastructure
"Our levels of connectedness on the PS3 platform are extremely high – in excess of 90%, even in places like Italy and Spain," says Ryan. "When you have that level of connectedness it makes that sort of innovation much easier to justify. It becomes much easier to do than if you’re running at 10% levels of connectivity; everybody’s online, so the ROI [return on investment] – which unfortuantely people like myself do have to worry about – on those sorts of investment decisions becomes much more straightforward."
As well as better broadband, social media has totally changed the way we communicate with each other since the PlayStation 3 was announced, pushing us towards sharing more of our lives online. This has made social integration on the PlayStation 4 not only possible, but necessary. The DualShock 4's Share button and the PlayStation Network's increased personalisation show how the console is embracing the more socially-connected Internet that has developed since the PlayStation 3's release, claims Jim."We think personalisation is very important in this day and age. You’ll have a home page on the network which is yours, [with] stuff that you’ve bought and that your friends have bought, what your friends are doing... The social aspect is probably most important of all – this deep, very rich social engagement, whether it’s via social networks or by using this rather cool Share button.
"I think the general move to this connected world that we live in now makes the realisation of what we’re going to do with the PS4 possible to an extent that really wasn’t the case 5 or 6 years ago, " he concludes.
The Breakdown of Hardware Barriers
"One of the things that we increasingly see is that the silos that have existed in the past with these vertical platforms are getting broken down little bit by little bit," observes Ryan. (In plain English, platforms are no longer closed - they have to integrate.) "Things are becoming more open and less proprietary, and this can only be good for consumers. It brings certain technical challenges and business model challenges in certain spaces, but I think in this day and age companies like Sony have to meet those challenges head-on."