So, its the live coverage, take two. I’m a PlayStation fan at heart. I’ve grown up with the brand since I was ten years old and it’s been a mainstay in my life as a geek. As much as people love Nintendo and Pokemon, or My Little Pony, I love PlayStation. The consoles, the way the controller feels in-hand, the game exclusives and the wonderful titles that have graced Sony’s entertainment platform have made me feel at home. Neither I nor my brother and family have been without one and I never want to be. That’s why this morning/evening, I’m covering the PlayStation event with a happy feeling, anticipating something great will be shown, but at the same time I’m giving the event some space and not looking into the various reports and blogs on the internet about it. As a fan of the brand I desperately want it to continue succeeding, even though I know there are a lot of things that can drag Sony down.

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3:07 Your move, Microsoft.

3:06 This year Miklós is going to E3, he is going to be SWAMPED! I think his brain might explode from all the awesomeness, poor guy.

3:05 This is going to be something very, very hard to top by any other console developer. There’s just to much stuff to absorb and … so many awesome games that will be available on launch. And some concrete promises and hardware specs. Wow. Just wow.

3:04 So, our wallets are going to get raped.

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3:02 The four Horsemen of Bungie. Oh, and Destiny‘s coming to the PS3 as well, with exclusive content.

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3:01 With co-op and the full experience, the same as you’d get on the PC.

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2:59 Launch. Title. Just in case you missed it.

2:58 Activision is bringing Bungie and Destiny to the PS4. As a launch title. Launch. Title.

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2:57 And Activision makes an appearance. Not surprising, considering Blizzard’s here.

2:56 More about this at PAX later this year. Wow, that’s …quite something.

2:55 And there will be four-player co-op mode for the PS3/PS4 version of the game.

2:54 We’re going to see Diablo III, on both the PS3 and the PS4.

2:54 I wasn’t expecting this. What franchises are they bringing to the platform? Microsoft, do you have this kind of backing?

2:53 “Blizzard and Sony have entered into a strategic alignment to…take over the world?”

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2:53 Blizzard is coming to the console! This is new and weird.

2:51 Potential game of the year?

2:50 Particle effects, motion blur, ambient occlusion, smoke effects, physics. its all there.

2:50 “Its the modern Assassin’s Creed we’ve all been waiting for!” – my brother.

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2:48 Once again, full 1080p and I see what looks like 4x AA.

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2:46 New live demo of the game!

2:45 No, it’s coming to the platform, alright. Awesome! Does this mean previous gameplay trailers were on existing hardware or a prototype PS4?

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2:44 No, this is an announcement that they’re just going to make things more realistic, bla bla bla.

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2:43 Sounds like Watch Dogs will be coming to the PS4?

2:43 Ubisoft is next. Damn, when does this end?

2:42 And it looks like we’ll see something about the Final Fantasy brand. Oh, it’s an annoucemement that they’ll announce something at E3. Cool beans.

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2:40 “PS4 is a game developer’s dream.” – Square Enix

2:39 Saw something that looked like Ifrit, but it’s only a tech demo.

2:38 Sort of a Final Fantasy-type thing with guns and a bit of Modern Warfare thrown in. I like it.

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2:36 Their demo isn’t a game, but a demonstration of a “game experience”, which is a fancy new way of saying, a game engine demo.

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2:34 Deep Down is a new IP that will use the new engine. Now its Square Enix’s turn.

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2:31 Panta Rei is a new in-house graphics engine. Looks awesome.

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2:30 Looks like they’re committing to a new Resident Evil and …something else? I missed it.

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2:29 And Capcom takes to the stage to start with some stretching exercises and some announcements of new titles.

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2:27 So there’s a large list of companies already in support of the PS4.

2:26 They’re hosting a mini-concert using Move controllers to manipulate the characters on-screen. Wonderbook, go into your corner. You are done.

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2:24 Those virtual sculptures were made entirely using the movements Move records.

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2:22 They’re going to use the move controller in future titles. They can use it as a creative tool to make anything you desire.

2:20 Media Molecule comes on stage and discusses the design process of how they can share things made inside their upcoming games, and how the hardware inside PS4 can help drive further realism.

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2:18 They announce a new in-house engine that makes things look freakily photo-realistic. Check it out. “We are now only limited about our imagination.”

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2:17 “The PlayStation 4 will enable us and other developers to create more realism in games.”

2:16 Quantic Dream’s David Cage comes on stage to discuss how games have had to create emotion and a link to the player’s inner feelings.

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2:15 Killzone‘s new episode will have its own Facebook fan page up in the next few hours.

2:14 25 hours of gameplay, solving simple puzzles that solve in the same way as those plumbing ones you might remember.

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2:11 It sounds like a sandbox game with RPG elements, some inspiration from Fable and its going to focus on puzzle-solving and unlocking the world around you. Could go either way, really, but Braid was rated very highly. In the interim, it’s only going to be on the PS4.

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2:09 Sony promises more support for Indie Developers. Its Braid’s Johnathan Blow, showcasing something called The Witness.

2:07 I wasn’t in time for the screenshot, but its called Infamous: Second Son. Very, very cool. You’ll probably see more tomorrow.

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2:03 Uh….Something new from I have no idea. Similar premise to Watch Dogs, only the story follows protagonists with super powers in a 1984-esque world. Oh wait, it’s Sucker Punch! They made Infamous.

2:02 By first-person, I mean that you enter, prep and drive off in the car in a first-person perspective. Visuals are pretty, its practically the next Gran Tourismo, only this is probably Sony’s answer to Forza. Might be platform exclusive as well.

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2:02 The entire game is delivered through a first-person experience.

2:01 “We’ve gone mad with the details. None of this was possible on the PS3.”

2:00 Drive Club has a mobile app to complement the experience. You set a time and send that challenge out to the world and you watch with a visual indicator as people across the world attempt to beat it. Cool!

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1:58 And now Evolution Studios announces a team-based racing game, Drive Club. Its been in the works for nine years.

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1:55 A man hangs onto a helicopter, rides around the city trashing craploads of stuff and later destroys it with C4. That’s worth interrupting any sentence for.

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1:54 This may be the most impor…

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1:52 I see ambient occlusion, Physics effects, HDR, realistic water and fire effects, it pretty much looks like Battlefield 3 with ecstacy. And there’s a Gauss rifle.

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1:51 This is…damn.

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1:49 The graphics? Pretty amazing. And the source video is in 1080p, so the PS4 is beefy.

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1:48 KILLZONE SHADOWFALL

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1:48 KILLZONE 4!!!!!!!

1:45 Here’s the question. What in God’s name is Microsoft planning? Is Steve Ballmer watching this with his jaw on the floor?

1:42 Also, x86-64 was a choice motivated directly by the standard of console ports. Sony had many conversations with developers who all raised the issue of ports, saying that they didn’t want to be continually dumbing down experiences for those consumers playing the game on the PC or even the Xbox.

1:40 And now some devs have their say about stuff and development, so lemme get in a quick word. This console will probably be unlike anything Sony’s ever done. It focuses on internet connection and sharing, along with online features that enhance the experience. PSN and the PS Plus subscription was a foot forward in the right direction, but it was probably Netflix that made Sony realise how much potential a console with the right capabilities and hardware could have.

1:38 “PS3 titles aren’t natively available on the PS4, but we’re working to get them on there, along with the entire library from the PS2 and PSOne.” Everything everywhere, is what they’re touting. But the entire back catalogue? Holy balls.

1:37 Remote Play with the Vita is going to improve, turning the Vita into a Shield-like device, or a rather swanky form of the Wii U’s gamepad.

1:35 So you can ask a friend for help and they can either chat to you while you’re playing, or they can control your game for a limited time to help you get through that door or puzzle or whatever. Gaikai’s idea is also that while you’re playing, developers can tweak something inside the game that will be instantly pushed to all players online. This probably won’t affect single-player, but multi-player may benefit from this.

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1:33 “Our vision is to build the first social gaming network that has meaning.” And as I predicted, Gaikai will make use of game streaming and the Share button on the controller will broadcast your gameplay to a live, semi-interactive feed.

1:32 Gaikai’s tech will allow you to check out games before you buy them, but you’ll be doing this online.

1:32 I know what this is. Its an early release of HAL, in console form.

1:31 “Its important that the PlayStation network brings gamers together, and we’ll do that with Gaikai’s technology.”

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1:30 And Gaikai’s David Perry comes on for some more chatting. What cat will he bring out the bag?

1:30 Yeah, this could be big.

1:28 “The console will learn more about you and if it thinks you like a game series enough, it will pre-order and download the game FOR YOU if you will it.” Okay, now this is just sorcery, Sony.

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1:27 Gees, this is an incredibly tall order to fulfill. I hope Sony pulls it all off.

1:25 Hit after hit. Fast system resumes straight back into your game, background download, remote play to help your friends with difficult parts of games. You can bloody play downloadable titles WHILE THEY ARE DOWNLOADING.

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1:23 Sony is targeting a lot of improvements to games and the user experience.

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1:21 The first PS4 game trailer! Something called Knack, I think…

1:18 The controller uses a touch pad, has a share button on the rear, lower latency, larger battery. GPGPU is another large part of the PS4 and it looks like Sony will be using HSA architecture together with AMD’s efforts with things like OpenCL.

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1:17 Holy Cow! 8GB of RAM!

1:15 Along with chatting with the developers about what the PS4 should be, Sony also looks like it’s going to be heavily using augmented reality to create more immersive experience.

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1:13 “The need to create radical technology has interrupted the creative process in making games in the past.”

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01:12 Andy Cerny (?) takes to the stage and discusses how developers dealt with changing technology within the context of the PlayStation 3.

1:10 Today, PS4 represents the kind of experience that gamers have… wait, did he just say hours? 0_o This presentation is going to be hours long? Good Lord.

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1:07 So I had some audio and connection issues. Those of you still struggling to connect can catch the action here on PSU.com.

12:51 Wow! The Live Stream is being broadcast in an additional eight languages: Spanish, Portugese, Japanese, Mandarin (again, signifying the possibility that Sony will be entering into the Chinese market pretty soon), Korean, French, Italian and German.

12:50 Ten minutes to go. Take your seats, ladies and gents, gamers and geeks, fanboys and fanatics.

12:47 DailyTech builds on the PlayStation Eye – they say it’s not the Eyetoy, but a streaming service allowing you to check out your friend’s gameplay while they’re broadcasting it online. Game streaming has been a big new trend on the internet in the last year and Sony may have something going on here. At least it’s not Kinect, which Microsoft is putting a lot of resources and creativity into.

12:43 More rumors! Along with the possible November launch, there’s another lot of whispers that say every PS4 will ship with the PlayStation Eye and the console will be controllable from your mobile phone – most likely this will be an Android-only solution, as Sony’s Xperia lineup is almost exclusively Android-based. I like that they moved to Android when they it, as it almost single-handedly saved the mobile department from fading into irrelevance.

12:42 Over a hundred and seventy thousand people have joined the Live Stream so far. Sony’s capacity for the stream is 1.4 million worldwide viewers. Can it handle such a load?

12:39 The internet has been busy again with some new rumors – that there will be two PS4 variants retailing at $429 and $529, both rumored to ship in November. If true, it’s just, just in time for the holiday season and if Sony manages a worldwide launch at the same time, it will truly be one of the biggest launches in history. The kind of fervor the Xbox and PlayStation brand are capable of are pretty much as insane as Apple’s.

21 Feb, 12:30 For those of you who don’t know, yesterday I had an epic fail of note. I didn’t factor in the time differential when you’re working on EST time. Apparently, the rest of the world was still in the 19th of February when we were on the 20th. Maddendingly, I only realised this right when I thought the event was going to begin. Tonight, it’s the real deal. Get seated, this is going to get heavy.

1:00 There’s a new video on the site talking about how the brand has changed the way how games are made and marketed to consumers.

12:58 Two minutes to go! Apparently.

12:50 In a couple of blogs that have gone live just minutes before the event, a lot of people are pointing out that the Evolution of PlayStation may have something to do with Gakai, the game streaming company that Sony bought a little while back. Not much has been made of that since the two companies integrated, but Gakai may be a valuable addition to Sony’s PlayStation brand in the future. If PlayStation is evolving, then going into the streaming market may be something Sony thinks is worthwhile?

12:25 With just 35 minutes to go, the Internet has gone eerily silent. No RSS feed updates, no tweets of note in my browser, just silence. Is the entire world sitting in anticipation for this announcement?

12:18: For those of you who’d prefer to see the action as it happens, here’s the link to the Live Stream: Playstation Meeting 2013. I’m hugely grateful that I don’t need Silverlight to watch the stream.

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12:10 So we’re at the start of our coverage and I’d like to post up a few videos Sony has made about the evolution of the PlayStation brand. It takes stock of the consoles Sony has launched under the brand to date and celebrates how ground-breaking they were. In all honestly, it’s a bit like the company patting itself on the back, but we’ll allow that for now.

To recap before the event begins in about an hour, let’s take a quick stock of things. Over the last two years much has been made of the ailing divisions within Sony that have been drowning in debt. Both their TV and Home Theater departments haven’t been earning a lot of profit and it doesn’t help that the company put everything it had into the PlayStation 3. While it was a commercial success and we have the Phat, the Slim and the Slide-top versions proudly displayed in our lounge. the PS3 was hugely expensive and, as some pointed out early on in its life, needlessly so. Compared to Microsoft’s Xbox 360, it cost a lot more to manufacture and the hardware wasn’t easy to program for in the beginning. Amdahl’s law was still something that would take years to overcome and developers were handed what was effectively a six-core gaming powerhouse and told to make it work as hard as possible. To Sony’s credit (and Microsoft’s) both consoles are selling strongly today and it’s mind-boggling that six year-old hardware can power Far Cry 3.

Both consoles were way beyond their time.

But there’s a new culture of cost-cutting that’s been hitting the world since the economic recession. Microsoft has used the Xbox Live subscription to keep the brand above water and profitable, while Sony leveraged the capabilities of the PS3 as a Blu-Ray player and an excellent Hulu and Netflix player. While both consoles now make a profit for both companies, they both realise that if their next products aren’t cost-effective, the console market could be driven into the ground within a few short years. So it looks like both of them have colluded to make sure that this variant of mutually-assured-destruction doesn’t happen.

Over the last few months, hardware specifications and leaks have shown that both consoles will be cost-effective and use AMD hardware. Both will retail here in SA for around R5000. Both will still feature familiar things that their predecessors had, like wireless controllers and HDMI, but they’re going to be markedly different. The transition from the PowerPC architecture to x86-64 is going to make things a bit difficult for early adopters, especially if there isn’t any backwards compatibility. Both consoles should play games as well as their predecessors did and they’ll push the boundaries of what’s possible, in addition to raising the performance baseline for console ports.

However, both will be marketed for different things. Microsoft ostensibly is planning for the Xbox Infinity/8/720 to be tightly integrated into Kinect and the services its purchased over the years, like Skype, as well as offer features like an enhanced web browser as well as their own in-house alternative to Hulu and Netflix – Microsoft Video. Sony, on the other hand, might go all-out for performance, pushing the thermal limits of the hardware in order to make their games run better and make the console last much longer. In pure performance terms, both will make use of an AMD octo-core based on their Jaguar processors which are the basis of AMD’s “Kabini” and “Temash” families and the PS4 will use a GPU that’s the functional equivalent of the HD7850, while some leaks point to Microsoft making use of an HD7770 equivalent. Leaks also point to the PS4 having 4GB of system RAM with dedicated RAM for the GPU, while the Xbox may have double that, reserving some system memory for functions such as Kinect and Lord-knows-what-else.

In a huge departure from the way things were in the past, both consoles will use Blu-Ray. As has been shown in the past, both consoles will serve as proving grounds for a new generation of AMD APUs as time passes.

So things are going to change around here and, I hope, for the better. Stay tuned for the launch coverage and keep your fingers crossed. Sony must live through 2013 and beyond. Microsoft depends on it, AMD depends on it, the market depends on it and we, us, the gamers, depend on it.

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