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Sony has confirmed that work on a "future platform" to follow the PS3 "is already under way".

Sony's executive vice president and chief financial officer Masaru Kato made the revelation on a conference call to investors today. He was asked to explain increased research and development (R&D) costs.

Kato's comments are in direct contrast those of Sony Computer Entertainment boss Kaz Hirai's. Hirai said, three months ago in March, that "a near-future PS4 or next-generation home console is not something that we are even debating now".
 

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Sony would be foolish not to develop a PlayStation 4. The fact they are making it public probably means the project is either well under way or near completion.
 

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Hirai wouldn't be lying if he said that commercialization wasn't being debated, but I'd be shocked if any of the major producers didn't start next-gen projects right after the last-gen launched.

I mean in practical terms, it's not like they fire their R&D teams right after launch. Some of them get put into cost-out and sustaining engineering efforts, but the rest are already building concepts for the next gen.

I think the reason they have let this selectively slip is to try and defer attention from the hack fiasco and generate positive buzz.
 

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The reason it came out now though was that

He was asked to explain increased research and development (R&D) costs.
My guess is they've reached the stage where they have to start making some serious investments.
 

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There's such a thing as planted questions, too. ;)

Although, judging from Sony's media saavy during the hack fiasco, I might be giving them too much credit... But to your point, if there's a significant spike on the expense sheet, you're probably right.
 

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Don't forget this revelation came out in an Investors call and not in a marketing event. My guess is they felt they couldn't lie to analysts for fear of lawsuits from investors.
 

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I imagine the PS4 design will contain a lot of "lessons learned from the PS3". I think some of those will be:

  • Launch with a subscription online service, its an excellent revenue stream (learned from MS)
  • Not using "just released" standards, or potentially delayed technologies means you can launch on time at a lower price point (learned from Nintendo and MS)
  • Casual gamers are a bigger market than "hard core" gamers (learned from Nintendo)
  • Don't choose your video hardware at the last minute, preventing you from having a unified memory architecture (MS)
  • Fewer faster CPUs with a high IPC run game engines better than an architecture consisting of many slower asymmetric processors (MS)
  • It is best to launch with your innovative control scheme so more games will adpot it (Nintendo)
  • Digital distribution only. A "Game Store" is better than selling plastic discs via retail because it lowers distribution costs and prevents the profit-sapping 2nd hand game market (Apple, Steam)
 

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Most of what you say makes sense but I think the PS4 will be kinda like Intel's tick tock strategy. They invested billions into the PS3. More than they could ever recover possibly. It would make sense that instead of spending that type of R&D again that they just juice up the PS3 hardware, new super charged Cell processor with an architecture everyone is familiar with, faster BR drive etc. Also, digital dist, you either go all the way or don't bother. Right now companies are toying with it but are afraid to compete with their brick and mortar partners and for good reason. Why would I sell your console and make about a 3% profit while you leave all the software as digidist? Perhaps a smarter move would be treating the console like a cell phone. Buy a 3 year subscription to PSN and get a console for $199, want to buy it without the sub? $499. That way the retailers get a larger cut on the hardware. Then of coarse you only have to worry about living in Canada where 1 game would eat your monthly download cap.
 
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