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PlayStation 4: rumour roundup

PSM3 is set to close its doors by the end of this year and much like its rival-console counterpart, Xbox World, it has gone about collating every available piece of information on the forthcoming PlayStation 4 (PS4) for its swansong.

According to the print publication, the PS4’s production title is ‘Orbis’, Latin for circle, and is unlikely to be called PS4 at its release as the number holds negative connotations for Sony’s domestic market. The number four is pronounced ‘shi’ in Japan, which also means death. This association often means the number is deliberately not used in Japanese hotels, airlines, hospitals, etc., as demonstrated by certain buildings not possessing a fourth floor, instead going straight from third to fifth.

The name Orbis also alludes to a collaborative relationship with Sony’s handheld PS Vita - Latin for life. This ‘circle of life’ system-pairing will likely build on the current cross-play and cross-buy functionality present in the PS3 and Vita, as Sony seeks to create a cohesive ecosystem of devices.

The console’s architecture will allegedly consist of an AMD quad-core APU 28nm processor - codenamed ‘Liverpool’, 16GB of flash memory enabling swift firmware updates, and 4GB of RAM which could yet be expanded to match the Xbox 720’s rumoured 8GB of RAM.

“The downside is that RAM is expensive, but Sony can’t afford to scrimp,” PSM3 commented.

The new system is believed to see greater support for the PS Move control schemes. Sony has filed a new patent for a Move enabled motion controller that consists of two magnetised Move wands that form a dual shock when merged. The console itself is also expected to sport an integrated Move camera as well as a provision for a Wii U-tablet utility that could see the Vita and PlayStation enabled mobile devices being used as an additional interface.

“Sony also filed patents for augmented reality 3D controllers,” unearths the article.

The use of a PSN account is anticipated to become mandatory with the premium PS Plus program, set to play a significant role, as PAYM contracts could be used to offset the expense of the hardware.

“You might pay £99 for PS4, but commit to a 24-month PS Plus service at, say, £12 a month,” PSM3 explained.

Moreover, an increased focus on PS Plus may result in new applications in cloud-gaming that, again, points to innovation in pricing as the use of ads and one off fees are rumoured to be possible forms of subsidy for the console. This is expected to run alongside traditional subscription plans and contemporary free-to-play model.

Furthermore, an obligatory PSN account gives Sony the ability to lock out pre-owned games. The proliferation of second hand titles claims 10 per cent of domestic games sales - that’s £90 million of revenues that games developers have no stake in.

“People make money out of our work and this doesn’t go back to us or the people taking the risk,” said famed game-dev David Cage when addressing the issue at this year’s Games Developer Conference.

The Orbis however, will not be backwards compatible - not with physical media at least - as Sony is expected to capitalise on its £240 million acquisition of Gaikai, a game streaming service, to act as a repository for its back catalogue of titles.

The article also laid-to-rest speculation about the Orbis running games at ultra-hd, reasoning that the 4k resolution’s astronomical processor requirements are beyond the abilities of the next-gen system.

As for the cost, Orbis is predicted to come in at the £400-£500 mark (which is still a loss for Sony) and is expected to launch after its rival Microsoft offering in late 2013 (optimistically) or early-mid 2014. Games are said to have been in production for the prospective console for over 18 months with first-wave Orbis games like Ubisoft’s Watch Dogs being ran on powerful PCs as a means of replicating the consoles proposed specs.

“PS4 will be a high-end PC with optimised, custom graphics hardware – that’s no bad thing,” PSM3 surmises.