So there we have it, PlayStation 4 is real. It's certainly been a long time coming, but in my humble opinion it's been worth the wait. Sony answered its critics in New York last night and anyone who says otherwise couldn't have been paying attention.
What Sony had to do was prove that PlayStation had a future in amongst the world of smartphones and tablets. It did this by embracing them. Sony also take note of the way gaming is changing, with people sharing content and connecting every time they play. It did this too.
Sure there was the usual disposal of information in a way which can send the audience to sleep. But this was an important message not just for those journalists in the audience, but for the many developers, most of whom would have been very interested in this part of the show.
Once Sony got into its stride though and started to show what really counts - the console's features and its games, it was here that we really started to see the potential for the future. Perhaps the most important aspect of Sony's announcement last night was the Share button which took its place on the newly shown Dualshock 4. Using this button, Sony's plans for connectivity, cross platform play and social media all come to the fore. You can stream your gameplay live on UStream, allowing your friends to watch. They can even join in your game if you get stuck and help you out e.g by offering health potion or weapons. Facebook will also play a part in the new PlayStation and although Twitter wasn't mentioned it's hard to see it being excluded.
The share button alone was an impressive aspect of the new console, but it wasn't the only one. When Gaikai's Dave Perry took to the stage Sony's plans for the company all of a sudden became clear. Using your PS4 you'll be able to stream demos of PS4 games, no more waiting for downloads. That's not all though as you'll also be able to play PS4 games on your PS Vita. What's not to love about that? In the future, Perry says that Sony is hoping to provide PS1, PS2 and PS3 games via the PlayStation Cloud. This could see you playing these games on not only PS4, but your Vita, Mobile's and possibly even PC.
As we all know, downloading anything on PS3 is a chore, however PS4 will change all of this. Background downloading has been introduced, allowing you to download while performing another task. Games can also be downloaded in stand-by mode and if you download a digital game then you'll be able to play it whilst it is downloading.
There are also other under appreciated features that were mentioned, such as the ability to press the power button to freeze your game, with another press allowing you to start again from where you left off. You'll also be treated to instant booting of the console, while you'll also be able to boot features such as the web browser whilst playing a game. Cross-game play and Cross-game chat will also be included as a feature, something many have been crying out for on the PS3.
Then there was the games. Killzone looked spectacular and was not pre-rendered this time, instead it was being played live, Guerrilla Games confirmed as much to me via twitter. Infamous: Second Son also looked pretty spectacular, as did Evolution's DriveClub. Another exclusive known as Krank was also shown, a next generation platformer, which while not spectacular looking proved that Sony is planning to span many genres. We also saw third party titles such as Watch Dogs, a stunning new Capcom title known as Deep Down and the promise of Diablo III for both PS3 and PS4. There will be more first party exclusives of course, but Sony is no doubt saving these for E3 in order to give its developers more time to harness the power of the new PlayStation 4.
It wasn't just 'AAA' titles in the limelight though, Sony continued its wonderful support of indie developers allowing Braid creator Jonathan Blow to show off his lovely new title which will be exclusive to PS4 in the launch window. Sony also backed the indie support up by saying that developers will essentially be able to 'self publish' games on the store, although we need more details on this before we can comment on its potential.
The PlayStation 4 has been in development for a whopping five years. That's a long time in an ever changing world of technology. What Sony had to show was that it could adapt to the ever changing world of gaming over this time and last night it did just that. There are a lot of challenging times to come for Sony and all of its consoles. But it seems that at last the company is moving in the right direction.