The Ps4?

So again theres the rumor going around that the ps3 is going to be presented at e3 this year, so nothing new under the sun except that it’s pretty early for those since they usually start popping up in april.
But this year it seems does have a really high chance of it actually appearing.
I don’t care what Pachter says, after all he did peg the next Wii for 2009, 2010 and 2011, so what does he know.
Instead lets examine the evidence.

Whats been said
While you cant go by what sony is currently saying as they are actually prohibited by law from saying anything (it has to do with them being publicly traded and thus can even hint at things). But lets go with what they have said, “The ps3 is going to have a 10 year lifespan”, according to other sources.

this means that it will take approximately 7 years before the next console (+3 years of overlap).
Whats the age of the ps3, well it was released in japan and america in november 2006, this means it just spent it’s five year anniversary two months ago.
It is highly unlikely that the Ps4 will be released the same year as it’s announced, in fact it’s often at least a year and change which if announced at this years e3 would mean it would come out late fall 2013, which is almost exactly at the 7 year anniversary.

Why a year and a half, well consumer electronics or normal services is one thing and i think that’s what confuses Pachter, but things like a console or an operating system has an almost exponential growth of people working on it, it starts out small at the conceptual and design phase, but then as manufacturing and third party developers start working on it the amount of people it affects grows to a pretty impressive number.
I would almost bet there is at least 10.000 people working on some small part of it at this moment, and any one of them could potentially be a leak as all it takes is one disgruntled employee.
As an example of this we have both the ps3 and the Ps vita, the vita was announced about a year before release and the Ps3 had it’s first tech demos at GDC 2005 almost two years before the European launch.
At that point the Ps2 had only been out for less than 5 years

Is past prologue?
Sonys current console was launched is a very specific way in relation to the psp
2004 Psp is announced at a special press conference in may, shown at e3, then released in december
2005 cell/RSX tech demo at GDC, Ps3 revealed at e3.
2006 Ps3 again shown at e3 then released in novemeber.
2011 ps vita (then called NGP) revealed in late january shown at e3 then released in december in much the same way as the psp.

if this pattern holds then what we can expect is something like this.

2012 next gen cell tech demo with nvidia at GDC or some other event, Ps4 reveal at e3, but only tech demos.
2013 Ps4 full reveal with launch titles with release in november.

So that’s one way of looking at it, but heres another.

2000 Original ps2 released late in the year
2004 the slim ps2 model is released, 4 years after original
2006 original ps3 released 6 years after the ps2
2007 the super slim model ps2 is released 3 years after the slim model
2009 the slim ps3 model is released 3 years after the original

Following this pattern adjusting for the early ps3 slim model and other things we get.
2013 ps4 release, 7 years after the ps3
2013 super slim ps3 model 4 years after the slim version
2016 Ps4 slim model

I know those dates aren’t that solid, but at least it sort of fits.

The power curve
Mores law also plays a big role here.
There seems to be a sort of magic limit of about 20x-30x in performance when it comes to consoles, if a console is released before that it will be considered as a minor update, if it’s released way after that its considered coming to late, just compare the cpu clock rates
Ps1 33MHz
Ps2 300MHz
Ps3 3.2gHz

There is also a increase flops that corresponds to this
ps1 i don’t have a number on this one, but it’s relatively low
ps2 6.2 gigaFLOP
ps3 a bit less than 2 TerraFLOP in all

Now what determines this most of all is the exponential growth of development which in this case means that performance doubles every 18 months
1,5 years 2x
3 years 4x
4,5 years 8x
6 years 16x
So 7 years would be about a bit less than 30x which is right on the mark

The development cycle
The big studios get advance notice of when the release date might be so that they can better plan their development cycles accordingly, seeing as a game takes about 2-3 years to make it’s off that a lot of the big studios are taking a bit of an off year this time trying out new ip and making smaller games, this is probably in order to sync their schedule so that their big titles will start releasing about a year or more in the lifespan of the console, this would fit a 2013 release date.
Add to the fact that the studios making uncharted, gears3 and so on sort of wrapped up any story threads hanging around (not finishing them, just tidying up) so that they can start new stories for the next cycle.

The last guardian is also a good indicator that this console cycle is wrapping up as team ICO is notorious for having long dev cycles, about as long as the console cycles themselves, their last game Shadow of the Colossus was released october 2005, right after the ps3 was announced, their latest game is slated for late 2012 which i think will be right after the Ps4 reveal.

Neglect of the ps3
Though Neglect would be the wrong word for it, lack of focus is a better word for it.
Sony has lately been dabbling in motion control, various peripherals, 3D, Ps Vita, and a bunch of games, which is all good and well, but one thing that has been missing is the PS3, or rather making it better (like microsoft does), but the last two years they have neglected things like new firmware and new services (besides PlayStation Plus), i cant to this date buy movies on my ps3 even though it was technically released years ago, facebook integration is a joke, likewise the browser and they still haven’t fixed the bugs in the ps2 BC (yes i have that model with the software EE and it’s really buggy).
Major releases of new firmware is now basically just compatibility fixes and API updates for new games.

So one has to ponder why? if those devs are working on the new console it’s somewhat understandable, if not then it’s a really odd behavior, even for sony.

The competition

Wii U is launching this fall and the risk of loosing the release race again to microsoft is good enough motivation to have an earlier cycle than originally expected, Microsoft has still sold about 3 million more units than sony has even though sony has sold several million more consoles the last 3 years, also given that multi platform games often sell at a 2:1 rate for xbox is just more motivation to get that initial purchase from the real hardcore gamers and lock them and their friends into their system, and if they can do that and get a good service and community (cross game chat anyone) up and running quickly they could take the next cycle by a mile.

Conclusion
If all the things work as i think above it’s going to be a really big e3 indeed, possibly 3 new unreleased consoles and a ton of demos, bragging and showmanship, not to mention the games.

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