Sony unveils PlayStation4 to revive sales

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Posted: Thursday, February 21, 2013 12:00 am

Sony Corp. on Wednesday introduced the PlayStation 4, its first video-game console in seven years, offering new cloud and social-media features as Chief Executive Officer Kazuo Hirai seeks to reignite sales.

Andrew House, chief executive officer of Sony's PlayStation unit, announced the product at an event in New York. Consumers will be able to stream some older titles online, see what friends are doing and take over games in progress from others. The company didn't immediately disclose prices or say when the machine will go on sale.

The PlayStation 4 makes its debut amid an industry shift toward mobile play on smartphones and tablets, raising the question of whether gamers will shell out several hundred dollars for a new console. Sony, Microsoft Corp. and Nintendo Co., are adding features like movies and music, and more portable controllers, to keep mainstream consumers attracted.

“We've gotten to the point of diminishing returns on the technology,” Michael Pachter, an analyst at Wedbush Securities in Los Angeles, said. “The inflection point for them is going to be software and whether it's different enough to make you really want to go buy it.”

The new product will include social-gaming features that let players tag and share videos and watch what others are doing at the same time, according to Mark Cerny, the lead architect, who demonstrated the new controller, the DualShock 4, that includes a touchpad and “share” button.

“We've taken a deeply consumer-focused and developer-centric approach to the PlayStation 4,” Cerny said.

Sony is working to combat mobile devices with hardware and software that will make games available to play or share at the press of a button.

Personalization will be a compelling feature, Cerny said. The system is designed to learn players' likes and dislikes. Based on those it will make recommendations, have potential purchases ready and let customers begin playing new titles before they are fully downloaded to the machine's hard drive.

The PlayStation 4 service will offer both free games and episodic titles, the company said. Gamers will be able to broadcast their play to friends.

“What we're creating is the fastest, most powerful network for gaming in the world,” said David Perry, CEO of Sony's Gaikai online game service.

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