EDITORIAL: Is It Time For the Sony PlayStation 4?

Sony Corporation (ADR) (Public, NYSE:SNE) posted the 3.56 patch to combat the rampant piracy that has struck the PlayStation 3 due to George Hotz’s published exploit of the rootkey in the system, but it didn’t take long for that update to be compromised . The exploit has done the most damage to online multiplayer, which was always cripped but thanks to the exploit has made having public matches the equivalent to visiting Tombstone in the 1880′s.

It has gotten bad enough that some have suggested it’s time for Sony to abandon the PS3 and just release the PlayStation 4 as soon as possible:

Once a console is hacked this completely, the hardware manufacturer can’t really do anything. They could maybe update their hardware for new console sales, which would be a long and expensive process, but that won’t stop users from running pirated copies on the current hardware. – Martin Walfisz, UbiSoft

Releasing the PlayStation 4 would give Sony a chance to do several things, aside from making the console more secure:

  • Make PlayStation Network worth charging for. The sole reason that PSN was free in the first place was that Microsoft was charging for Xbox Live. Sony could make PSN on the PS4 as integrated and slick as Xbox Live is on the Xbox 360, and have gamers finance Sony’s servers, which would open doors for many features that Live can do because its consolidated under Microsoft. (For one, all games being hosted on Microsoft never have to worry about having games being taken offline – we’re looking at you, Eye of Judgement.)
  • Get a jump on the Xbox 720 and Wii 2. Microsoft may have paid a $1B price for rushing the Xbox 360 out the door with free overnight shipping and repair for Red Ring of Death consoles, but it was worth it as they made more billions in sales. Sony got a huge boost releasing the PlayStation 2 a year ahead of the competition, after all, despite having a craptastic launch lineup.
  • Make the PS4 developer-friendly. The Xbox 360 has the distinct advantage of being a DirectX machine. The PS4 could still have tons of power but Sony could have some software engineers write a new, less frustrating OS that will make developers able to do more in less time.
  • Streamline the system and make it cheaper. Releasing the PlayStation 4 for a sane $299.99 would earn it massive sales, instead of stumbling out of the block with an onerous $599.99 price tag that the high-end SKU of the PS3 was saddled with. (The low end $499.99 was ridiculous as well.) Sony would be wise to release a machine whose sole job is to play games, unlike the PS4 pictured above, which promises to even make you breakfast. Ditch the It Only Does Everything campaign and just say It Plays Games.
  • Dump the PS3 when the PS4 is released. There’s a reason Microsoft and Nintendo discontinued the Xbox and GameCube when they released their next gen hardware – to spur loyal customers into buying the new machines. Sony sent the wrong message when it continued to support and produce the PS2 when the PS3 was released. Sony has to ditch 10 year plans and stop using old hardware as a crutch in the videogame world. Include PS3 backwards compatibility so fans can retain their software, but just say, “Farewell, adieu” to the old and embrace the new.

Let us know what you think.

Jonah Falcon is a blogger for TMRzoo and GameStooge.com and covers all gaming consoles and platforms including Sony Playstation 3, Microsoft XBOX 360, Nintendo Wii, Sony PSP and computer games designed for Mac OS, Microsoft Windows and Linux operating systems. Jonah provides his readers with reviews, previews and up to date gaming industry news and rumors.

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