October 31, 2013, 6:00 AM —
Yesterday Sony dropped a bombshell on us in the form of a massive FAQ about the Playstation 4. I was going to talk about it in tomorrow's next gen gaming round-up, but the more I read, the more I realized that this deserved a post of its own. There's some bad news in here.
First, let's look at the current launch lineup. It is rather smaller than I, at least, was lead to believe it would be:
Killzone Shadow Fall
Angry Birds Star Wars (Activision)
Assassin’s Creed IV Black Flag (Ubisoft)
Call of Duty Ghosts (Activison)
FIFA 14 (EA Sports)
Battlefield 4 (Electronic Arts)
Just Dance 2014 (Ubisoft)
Injustice: Gods Among Us Ultimate Edition (Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment)
Lego Marvel Super Heroes (Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment)
Madden NFL 25 (EA Sports)
NBA 2K14 (2K Sports)
Skylanders SWAP Force (Activision)
Contrast (Compulsion Games )
Pinball Arcade (FarSight Studios)
Super Motherload (XGen Studios)
Tiny Brains (Spearhead Games)
Warframe (Digital Extremes)
The only good news I can take away from this list is that Flower and Sound Shapes are PS3 ports and if you own them on PS3 you'll already own them on PS4. If you're a Playstation Plus member you'll get Resogun and Contrast for free as part of your instant game collection.
Sony says the list is subject to change; let's hope nothing drops from the list and a few more games are added. (Over the course of the day yesterday they actually added 4 of those titles, so there's hope.)
That's not all the bad news in the FAQ though (it's possible some or all of this was already known, but it's the first time I was made aware of it and I doubt I'm the only one).
The PS4 doesn't support DLNA (the PS3 does). So forget streaming audio or video from your PC in the other room. The PS4 also won't play audio CDs or MP3 files. If you want to listen to music you can: as long as that music comes from Sony's Music Unlimited service. (The PS4 does include a web browser and it's possible other streaming music services will work through it.)
It sounds like, at launch, the PS4 will stream content from Video Unlimited and the aforementioned Music Unlimited. As of now, no other options (Netflix, Hulu, Amazon, etc) are listed, though the FAQ does say more will be announced before launch.
The PS4 won't support the PS3's Bluetooth remote and no PS4 remote has been announced.
Sony has talked a lot about their Share button, but at least at launch, you won't be able to share clips to YouTube or, as far as I can tell, anywhere except Facebook. As for streaming, both Twitch and Ustream are supported.
One other 'feature' that was touted early on won't be available at launch: the ability to take over a friend's game in order to help them out. I'm not sure how big a loss this is, to be honest.
Now let's transition into new info that isn't all bad.
Out of the box, the PS4 won't play movies/tv shows on Blu-ray or DVD, but you can hook the PS4 up to the internet to download a patch to enable those features. We already knew that. What we didn't know is that if you can't get your PS4 online, you can call Sony and have them send you an activation disk in the mail.
The Day 1 Patch we've been hearing about is separate from the Blu-ray/DVD unlock. You can play disk-based games while that downloads and installs, so no waiting around to start enjoying the PS4 experience when you get the box home. You can also download the patch on a PC and install it via a USB thumbdrive and the PS4's "Safe Mode" (entered by holding the power button down for 7 seconds).
While all games will have to install some data to the hard drive, it's possible for them to do so while you're playing.
Speaking of the hard drive, it is once again user-replaceable. The PS4 comes with a 500 GB, 5400 RPM SATA II drive. You can replace it with any drive that complies with these standards, is at least 160 GB, and is no more than 9.5mm thick. I expect I'll be replacing my drive pretty early in the PS4's lifespan.
In spite of the fact that Sony has shown video of a girl at her school using her Vita to Remote Play a PS4 game, in the FAQ Sony strongly recommends that you only use Remote Play while on your home WiFi network. Further they suggest that, for best results, the PS4 should use a cabled Ethernet connection and the Vita should be near the WiFi base station. You technically can play from distant locations (via WiFi only, 3G isn't supported) but it sounds like the experience won't be great.
And there was some good news in the FAQ:
The PS4 supports voice commands in six languages (English, Spanish, Italian, French, German, Japanese) at launch with more to come in future updates. You can issue voice commands via the Playstation Camera peripheral (a $60 separate purchase), or via a chat headset (a mono chat headset comes with the PS4).
And speaking of that mono headset, if you're a Vita owner you can use your Vita's stereo headset/mike instead of the one that comes with the PS4: it's fully supported. In fact, you can route all your game sounds through the controller's headphone jack if you choose to. That should alleviate some of the pain that came with finding out wireless headsets won't be supported at launch.
So those were the major points that jumped out at me. I was really annoyed to learn that I won't be able to use the PS4 to listen to my MP3 collection that's hosted on my PC. I also was dismayed to not see Need For Speed: Rivals on the launch day list. With Drive Club delayed I was looking to NFS for my racing fix.
If you took the time to read through the entire FAQ, did anything else strike you as significant? If so, please share in the comments.
Read more of Peter Smith's TechnoFile blog and follow the latest IT news at ITworld. Follow Peter on Twitter at @pasmith. For the latest IT news, analysis and how-tos, follow ITworld on Twitter and Facebook.