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In AllThingsD‘s Q&A with Jack Tretton this week, the Sony Computer Entertainment of America CEO explained at length why he thinks the new PlayStation 4 can weather the storm of changing media habits and increased competition in the living room.

For the superfans, though, that’s all moot. The gaming world may be a very different place from what it was in 2006, but one thing hasn’t changed: Sony (and, no doubt, Microsoft next week) can still expect the faithful to treat midnight console launches as celebrations. Here’s what happened at Sony and GameStop’s PS4 launch party in San Francisco on Thursday night.:

  • Octodad (or, rather, someone dressed as the indie game star) poses for a picture.

  • The PS4 faithful line up outside of GameStop.

  • One of the PS4’s launch titles is Knack, an action-platformer game published by Sony Computer Entertainment Japan.

  • Another gamer plays 2K Sports’ basketball game NBA 2K14, a cross-platform title also available to buy at launch.

  • It wouldn’t be a party without balloons.

  • A bit crowded.

  • PlayStation 4 boxes awaiting owners inside GameStop.

  • The winner of a PS4 raffle shakes hands with PlayStation SVP of Sales Tim Bender.

  • GameStop President Tony Bartel and Bender pose for photos behind the counter.

  • Some people take their gaming consoles seriously. The first person to buy a PS4 on the west coast holds it aloft.

  • And some people take them even more seriously than that. It’s no V-J Day in Times Square, but…

(Photos by Vjeran Pavic)

I love physical media. I love being able to display the spines of the movies, video games and books I own. There’s something comforting about having a shelf full of movies or games or books to look at. It might be the sense of endless possibilities. I could go over, pluck any one thing off the shelf, and have something to do for anywhere from 20 minutes to hundreds of hours.

It’s a feeling I don’t get when scrolling through my iTunes or when browsing Netflix. Sure, both of those places have more “stuff” than all the bookshelves in my apartment could hold, but they’re really just ones and zeroes making up words and pretty pictures. There’s no sense of “home” there. But what they lack in in “home” they make up for with convenience. And that convenience is so appealing that I find myself heading deeper and deeper down the digital-only rabbit hole.

Music: Digital-Only is a Go!

iTunes

I gave up on (most) physical CDs years ago. Almost all the music I buy comes from Amazon or iTunes as a download … and that’s if I’m buying music at all. (Spotify’s eliminated the need to buy almost any music, but that’s a slightly different topic for another day.) I just felt weird buying physical copies of CDs, ripping them to my computer and then never looking at the CD again. I was only interacting with the music digitally, so why bother with the physical version at all? Why go through the extra work and why take up the extra storage room? Music has gone almost fully digital. There’s no turning back.

I wish I could do the same thing for books, movies and video games. I could, but I won’t .

Books: Infrastructure Brought Down By Pricing

Kindle Matchbook

Most of the books I buy come from used book sales. Probably close to 90 percent of the books I own have cost me two dollars or less. Reading on a Kindle is great – and I think I’ve moved past the book snobbery of thinking a physical copy feels better – but the prices aren’t comparable. If I want to catch up on an author, I could go to a book sale and pick up ten books for ten bucks. On Kindle? It would probably cost anywhere from $40 to $140. Kindle is far more convenient – especially if you’re traveling and plan on tearing through a ton of books.

Whether you go through Amazon, Barnes and Noble or Apple, getting the books you want digitally is (usually) extremely quick and easy. The system is nearly flawless. But cost-wise, it’s just not there. Amazon is trying to help us transition to digital with the launch of Kindle Matchbook on Tuesday. Matchbook lets you pick up a digital copy of physical books you’ve bought from Amazon for $2.99 or less. But of the dozens of books I’ve bought, only three fall under the Matchbook program, and even at $2.99 they’re not titles I want to re-visit.

Movies: An Issue of Quality and Extras

Netflix Ultra HD

Blu-ray’s quality is still unmatched by downloads, and even though Netflix is now streaming at 1080p and will soon offer 4K streaming, the color depth just isn’t there. Watch the opening scenes from Drive on Netflix, then watch them on a Blu-ray copy. If you don’t think there’s a difference, you’re lying to yourself.

Physical copies of movies and TV shows also offer bonus features, like director’s commentaries, deleted scenes and more. But physical media is catching up in this regard. Vudu has begun doing it and Netflix is talking about it … it’s only a matter of time before this hurdle is cleared. I still don’t see a time when I head to downloads only, but I’m becoming more and more okay with Netflix. I’ve found myself only buying the movies I really like. (This is still a lot of movies, but hey, what are you going to do? NOT buy Monsters University?)

Video Games: The Final Frontier

Killzone Shadow Fall

But the biggest digital vs. physical problem of all lands in the realm of video games. With the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One planning to launch in the next month, we’re entering the first generation of consoles where digital-only is a legitimate option. At least, it’s an option in theory.

Both consoles are shipping with 500 GB hard drives. A few years ago, that was a lot. Today? That’s nothing. The cheapest laptops Best Buy sells – priced at $279 – come with 500 GB hard drives. Storage is so inexpensive and so readily available that it’s mind-boggling that the Xbox One and PS4 only come with 500 GB. The Xbox One will support external storage (though not at launch) and the PlayStation 4 (like the PlayStation 3) will let you put any size hard drive in it that you want, but that’s not enough. Seriously, Sony and Microsoft? You couldn’t put in a 2 TB drive?

You might wonder why I’m making such a big deal out of storage. Here’s why. The original version of Killzone Shadow Fall was 290 GB. THAT’S RIDICULOUS. It’s been scaled down (obviously), but it’s still a 50 GB game. The new Call of Duty game, Ghosts? Yeah, it requires a 49 GB install on PS4, even when running the game off a disc.

The storage issue with these new consoles is so bad and so blatant that Polygon wonders if it might be so big of an issue that the new consoles could actually fail because of it. I don’t think that’ll be the case, but eek. It’s not fun.

Video game publishers are ready to go digital. We are, for the most part, ready to go digital, too. But the bridge isn’t there, and the gap is too far for us to cross. Maybe next console cycle.

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So here we are, official confirmation that the game previously known as The Phantom Pain is the fifth chapter in the Metal Gear Solid franchise. The initial trailer fooled just about no one, the internet was a blaze with MGS theories mere moments after it was shown at the Spike VGAs. Nice try Kojima!

There’s a new trailer to help fans understand what’s going on but man I gotta say I was more confused after watching it than I was before! The basic premise is that Ground Zeroes and The Phantom Pain are both elements of Metal Gear Solid V and what we see is the aftermath of events that transpired in Metal Gear Solid Peace Walker.

The best news is that those of us not looking forward to scraping up cash to play the game on a new system won’t have to. Metal Gear Solid V is going to release (date TBD) for the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360! Hit the break to peep the full press release and hit the MGS site here to watch the 6 minute trailer.

KONAMI ANNOUNCES METAL GEAR SOLID V: THE PHANTOM PAIN

Next Chapter of METAL GEAR SOLID Franchise is Revealed in All-New Trailer

EL SEGUNDO, Calif. – March 27, 2013 – Konami Digital Entertainment, Inc. today announced the next chapter in the METAL GEAR SOLID franchise, METAL GEAR SOLID V: THE PHANTOM PAIN, will be released on the Sony PlayStation 3 computer entertainment system and the Xbox 360 video game and entertainment system from Microsoft. To reinforce the announcement and address all the questions fans have been asking all year, Kojima Productions unveiled a brand new trailer for the new title at this year’s Game Developers Conference (GDC) in San Francisco.

“Following the success of METAL GEAR SOLID 4: GUNS OF THE PATRIOTS, we have extremely high expectations for METAL GEAR SOLID V: THE PHANTOM PAIN,” said Tomoyuki Tsuboi, President of Konami Digital Entertainment, Inc. “We hope to expand and revolutionize the METAL GEAR SOLID franchise utilizing the FOX Engine, while providing fans the high-quality and immersive experience they have come to expect from Kojima Productions.”

First unveiled in METAL GEAR SOLID: PEACE WALKER, the new METAL GEAR SOLID V: THE PHANTOM PAIN trailer shows the fall of Mother Base and provides visual hints that unveil the connection between METAL GEAR SOLID: GROUND ZEROES and METAL GEAR SOLID V: THE PHANTOM PAIN. The trailer also showcases the FOX Engine’s exceptional level of visual quality with seamless integration of gameplay and cut scenes.For the newly released METAL GEAR SOLID V: THE PHANTOM PAIN trailer, please make sure to visit:www.metalgearsolid.com.

METAL GEAR SOLID V: THE PHANTOM PAIN will be released on the Sony PlayStation 3 computer entertainment system and the Xbox 360 video game and entertainment system from Microsoft.

For more information on METAL GEAR SOLID V: THE PHANTOM PAIN, please visit:www.konami.com

“PlayStation” is a registered trademark of Sony Computer Entertainment Inc.

Xbox, Xbox 360 and Xbox LIVE are either registered trademarks or trademarks of the Microsoft group of companies.

About Konami Group
Konami Digital Entertainment, Inc. is a leading developer, publisher and manufacturer of electronic entertainment properties. Konami’s titles include the popular franchises METAL GEAR SOLID, Silent Hill, DanceDanceRevolution and Castlevania, among other top sellers. The latest information about Konami can be found on the Web at http://www.konami.com. KONAMI CORPORATION is a publicly traded company based in Tokyo, Japan with subsidiary offices, Konami Digital Entertainment Co., Ltd. in Tokyo, Japan, Konami Digital Entertainment, Inc. in the United States and Konami Digital Entertainment GmbH in Frankfurt, Germany. KONAMI CORPORATION is traded in the United States on the New York Stock Exchange under the ticker symbol KNM. Details of the products published by Konami can be found athttp://www.konami.com.

Rumors are abound that Sony is set to reveal more details about the much-anticipated PS4. It was widely believed that they would use E3 to finalize details or at least give us more info but now speculation is that Sony will make an announcement as early as this month. Sony likely wants to keep the hype train rolling in their favor after the not so surprising PS4 announcement this past February.

My own personal opinion is that Sony wants to have all details available and perhaps even start taking pre-orders before Microsoft announces their next console. In January Microsoft posted a countdown to E3 on its blog which most people assumed was to be taken as a countdown to the NextBox. However there’s still a chance Microsoft will also preempt E3 with their own standalone announcement. Both consoles could possibly release by the end of 2013.

Eventually I will own both consoles but my first choice and the console I will pre-order in hopes of getting my hands on at launch will be the PS4. I think a lot of gamers have similarly made up their minds regardless of announcements. So geeks, what’s your thoughts on the impending next console generation? We’d love to hear your thoughts on what will undoubtedly be a competition that in the end can only end in a win for us gamers.

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No, no, no, not this again. We’re hearing from sources that the Xbox One will require gamers to be installed on the hard drive before playing is allowed. If for some reason you want to take that new game over to a buddy’s house, you would have to pay a fee to MS just to play it. The game will be tied to one Xbox Live account, no mention yet if it can be unlinked for another account.

Yeah I hate installing games to my PS3. I have a puny 80GB hard drive and it fills up quick with all the mandatory installs. Plus who wants to buy a brand new game, rush home and then wait while 5GB of data is slowly transferred to their deck? Not I that’s for sure. The Xbox One may have a 500GB drive but that sucker will fill up very fast with games, here’s hoping for TB drives.

What this seems like is Microsoft’s use of the Xbox One against the used games market. Sure EA ditches Online Passes but then someone still has to pay to play used. Stay tuned geeks as more info will eventually emerge.

It’s finally here: The next-generation console.

Except, well, you can’t see the console.

IMG_0082

As expected, Sony tonight announced the PlayStation 4, the newest videogame console from the Japanese electronics maker.

However, no console was shown during the two-hour event. Sony instead appealed to its hard-core gaming audience with a string of new game titles.

We know the new PlayStation 4 includes an x86, 8-core AMD “Jaguar” CPU, an enhanced PC graphics processor and a secondary custom chip for background processing of digital titles. It comes with 8 gigabytes of internal memory. And its controller is a DualShock 4 controller with a touchpad and “3-D” camera-tracking.

Sony said the console has been in development for the past five years. But, aside from teasing that the console would be available in the 2013 holiday season, no additional details on price or availability were given.

There are some interesting new features to the PS4 system. It will offer the ability to “trim” portions of the game and share clips of the games with friends over social networks, in addition to sharing over the PlayStation network. And Sony, perhaps looking to revitalize its not-exactly-best-selling PS Vita, also showed how PS4 games can be played remotely on the handheld mobile device.

As expected, cloud gaming is also a part of the PS4 announcement: Gaikai co-founder and CEO Dave Perry appeared on stage to discuss how Gaikai, which Sony acquired last year, is being integrated to make game titles readily available in the cloud. Gamers will be allowed to try some titles before they buy.

PS4 games can be played remotely on the PS Vita.

PS4 games can be played remotely on the PS Vita.

The company kicked off the event stating that it marked a bold step forward for Sony as a company. “The living room is no longer the focal point of the PlayStation ecosystem,” said Sony’s president and CEO of Sony Computer entertainment Andrew House.

Despite that, Sony spent a good portion of its event on Tuesday showing off game trailers for exclusive console titles like Knack, Killzone Shadow Fall and Drive Club, showing more attention toward its hard-core gaming audience than video-streaming consumers or mobile game adopters. Executives from Capcom, Square Enix and Ubisoft also appeared on stage touting new game titles.

And Bungie, the game developer behind the popular Halo franchise, showed a new first-person shooter game called Destiny that will be available for PS4 and PS3.

The new PlayStation 4 console comes at a particularly perilous time for the traditional videogame industry. Gaming software sales, especially, have suffered due to the rise of cheap or free Web-based games, while Sony, Nintendo and Microsoft have allowed several-year gaps in between new consoles, causing some to question the relevance of the console.

An image from Killzone Shadow Fall, one of the new games exclusive to PS4.

An image from Killzone Shadow Fall, one of the new games exclusive to PS4.

Sony to date has sold more than 70 million PlayStation 3 units worldwide, and claims more than 110 million members in its PlayStation Network. But about two years ago, the company suffered a setback when roughly 77 million user accounts were hacked, causing the company to temporarily shut down the network. Sony later said the hack cost the company $171 million that fiscal year.

In January the NPD Group, a research firm that tracks videogame hardware and software but not digital sales, reported that the Microsoft Xbox 360 had outsold the other home consoles for the 25th month in a row. But that was a mere silver lining: Software and hardware sales overall were still down 13 and 17 percent, respectively, when adjusted for a four-week month.

Microsoft is also widely expected to roll out its own new console, possibly named the Microsoft Xbox 720, this year.

Let’s hope Microsoft shows off the actual console at its event.