Sony surprised the world by managing to somehow not show off the upcoming PlayStation 4 when it announced the new platform at a press conference today, but the games giant has revealed a range of interesting second screen support. The new console will tap into the PS Vita, iPhone, iPad or Android devices to enhance the overall gaming experience.
The addition of support for Android and iOS is the most interesting, and perhaps surprising, element. It has announced the “PlayStation App”, which will turn smartphones and tablets into dedicated PS4 second screens, giving access to a range of in-game data and functionality, such as a dedicated screen for viewing in-game maps. Other functionality — and we suspect there is a wide range of possibilities here — includes an option to watch other gamers play, which could also be useful in head-to-head or collaborative titles.
Sony also says that the app will allow gamers to buy games for the PS4 while they are on the road. Titles purchased on other devices will download to the console when they are home and connected via WiFi.
Support for the PS Vita is more obvious and it takes a cue from Nintendo Wii U console and its portable controllers. Sony’s setup will allow gamers to “seamlessly pull” titles from the PS4 to the handheld device, allowing them to play anywhere in the house using WiFi. The company is committed to a “long-term vision to make most PS4 titles playable on [the] PS Vita”.
What we do know about the PlayStation experience is that it will be more tied to the Web than ever before. The company is putting technology from Gaikai, the firm it bought for $380 million last year, to use, and it says that all titles will stream via the Internet. Gaikai founder Dave Perry said that its technology will allow players to “instantly experience” any title that they would like to try via the PlayStation Network.
Sony has pledged to make older titles — including those produced for the PlayStation 2 and upwards — available to stream. The company is currently building its network in order to support this ambitious goal.
The company has been synonymous with using closed, propitiatory standards for previous products and content — such as its DRM-music — so it is refreshing to see it look to incorporate other companies’ technology into its future gaming experience. Of course, we’d have loved to get a sneak peak at the console itself too.