Sony launched a PlayStation 4 without showing anyone what it looks like.
Given the company lost £3.2bn in the last financial year, you’d have thought the successor to the 75m-selling PS3 would have been front and centre.
It is, far more important to consider what the PS4 can do, rather than what it looks like sat next to your telly.
And whilst nothing that was announced on Wednesday was particularly revelatory, gamers, particularly the PlayStation faithful, will have started to get butterflies.
Described by Sony as having “supercharged PC architecture”, the PS4’s X86 CPU, enhanced GPU and 8 GB memory, plus a new controller communicating with a motion-sensing camera on the console, promise a substantial technical leap forward from the six year old PS3 – if not an “exponential improvement on its predecessors” as Mark Cerny, lead PS4 system architect, hyperbolically commented.
“A PC in a box”, as one PS fan described it on Twitter. Not far off the mark.
But we didn’t get a price. Nor did Sony announce a firm release date, pointing to “holiday 2013”.
We did discover that it would not be “backwards compatible” – that it would not play PS3 games – save, perhaps, through the Gaikai cloud-sharing service Sony bought last year.
The rumoured “share button” did materialise – meaning the console will monitor and buffer your last fifteen minutes of gameplay, and allow you to share your achievements with your friends.
Despite all the buzz ahead of the launch there has been something of a lacklustre response from tech websites concerned, or perhaps annoyed, at a lack of substance.
“Talk is the cheapest thing there is,” commented Wired. “And that’s basically what Sony did today.
Gizmodo snarkily observed: “As the hours of demos and introductions dragged on, it became increasingly obvious that we weren’t actually going to see the PlayStation 4.
“Sony either isn’t ready for primetime, or Sony thinks the best way to get us interested is to play hard to get.”
CNet delivered perhaps the most crushing assessment: “The PS4 looks like it’s long on promises and big-picture dreaming, but currently short on clear, concrete reasons why anyone would be tempted to buy one.”
The launch was clearly an attempt to steal a march on the expected X-Box launch at the E3, the annual video games expo held in June.