Uh oh. Well, this doesn’t sound too good.
As TheSixthAxis reports, a Japanese website is stating that Sony Computer Entertainment has halted all development on the next generation Playstation home console, colloquially referred to as the Playstation 4.
Apparently, the Playstation 3, which only just became profitable for Sony last year, has bled the corporation dry, and they are now looking at keeping the system relevant for as long as possible. Also, it seems that Sony seems to believe that the future of non PC gaming lies in the handhelds, and not in home consoles, as they are, for all purposes, betting on the NGP to become the next ‘mainline’ Playstation system. As the quote says:
‘Hiroshige Goto says SCEI suspended PS4 development. They were working on a PowerPC based system at IBM Rochester after the Larrabee fall out, then shelved it. They are betting the farm on PSP2 as they expect handhelds to displace consoles.’
This, of course, raises several questions. Just what was the Playstation 4 going to be? A PowerPC based system developed by IBM? That sounds very intriguing. Why was development halted? Were the costs of R&D too high for Sony to afford right now, when they just became profitable after so many years of sustaining heavy losses? Does this indicate that the NGP may just be named the ‘Playstation 4?’
What will also be interesting to watch will be how Sony attempts to keep the Playstation 3 relevant to publishers after the gates to rampant piracy were opened following the Geohotz leaks. As long as Sony can keep piracy to a minimum, publishers will continue to support the system, as they are fully comfortable with its architecture by now, and as the system itself is well designed enough to last well into the twilight years of the current decade.
The Playstation line of systems is the bestselling hardware line of video game consoles in history. The first Playstation, released in 1995, sold 100 million units, whereas its legendary successor, the Playstation 2, recently crossed the 150 million units shipped mark. The Playstation Portable, Sony’s first foray into handheld gaming, has sold 60 million units so far, whereas the Playstation 3 currently stands at 47 million units sold.
Whether the Playstation 3, and the conspicuous lack of Playstation branding on the NGP and Xperia Play indeed indicate an end of the most successful hardware brand in gaming history remains to be seen.