When it comes to rumours about the next Xbox, there's some wild speculation to get your teeth into.
Over on the PlayStation 4 rumour mill, things were, until recently, turning much slower. As Kaz Hirai said earlier in the year: "we're not deliberating on a PS4 or a next generation machine, whatever you call it."
But on 26 May 2011, that stance appeared to change when Sony's executive vice president and chief financial officer Masaru Kato seemingly confirmed that Sony is working on the PS4. The revelation took place during a conference call to investors where he was asked about increased R&D costs.
"This is a platform business, so for the future platform - when we'll be introducing what product I cannot discuss that - but our development work is already under way, so the costs are incurred there," Eurogamer reported him as saying.
The PS4 specs could abandon the Cell processor and return to x86…
In February, there were rumours of a failed Sony/IBM research project to develop a PowerPC chip for future PlayStations. Going forward, Sony will surely stick with the advanced, multi-core, bitch-to-develop-for Cell processor that it dropped $3 billion on. Here are three reasons why:
1. Easy backwards compatibility with the PlayStation 3
2. A familiar development environment. By 2015 (or whenever a PS4 comes out), games developers will have had much more experience working with Cell and its software tools
3. Toshiba recently sold its Cell factory in Nagasaki back to Sony for £400 million. Sony is hardly going to abandon the chip now it owns the means to manufacture it in bulk
Blu-ray on the PlayStation 4 is a dead cert. While digital distribution is undoubtedly the way forward, not every PlayStation owner has access to a fast broadband connection.
As Kaz Hirai told Develop, "we do business in parts of the world where network infrastructure isn't as robust as one would hope. There's always going to be requirement for a business of our size and scope to have a physical medium."
As for the PlayStation 4 controller, Dr. Richard Marks (Sony Computer Entertainment's US R&D manager of special projects) says that "anything that lets us get the player's intent into the system more" is technology they'll be looking at. No brain wave gaming just yet.
Could there be a redesign of the PlayStation network too?
According to Reg Hardware, Sony has a PlayStation Network design upgrade in the works to compete with Xbox Live - could it eventually launch alongside the PS4?
What about a PS4 release date?
Tricky. If you side with the likes of ITProPortal, you might believe that "the whole concept of a single lounge-bound gaming device may become obsolete". The future of gaming may well lie in a more portable device/controller that you can play on the move or plug into your TV. Epic's Mark Rein has some interesting thoughts on this here.
Sony claims that the PS3 will have a 10 year lifecycle, suggesting the next PlayStation will arrive by the end of 2016 at the latest. Or we might not get a PlayStation 4 at all. Developers haven't yet maxed out the potential of the PS3, while the release of PlayStation Move has given it an extra dimension…
However, according to Digitimes, Sony is to start production of PS4 at the end of 2011 with Kinect-like body control. Though we're not sure how accurate that can possibly be.
"Where we go after this is an interesting one," says Sony Computer Entertainment UK boss Ray Maguire. "The online side is very interesting and is a big part of our business going forward. But in terms of what sort of technology we'll be using, it's far too early to say yet because we're only half way through the lifecycle of PS3 - there are many years to come on that machine."