On a cold chilly evening in late February, Sony gathered hundreds of members of the media into the Hammerstein Ballroom in New York City to announce the PlayStation 4. But after two hours, it became clear to everyone in attendance, and thousands watching the live online stream worldwide, Sony had no actual console box to show.
We saw the touchpad-equipped DualShock 4 controller, the new HD PlayStation Eye camera and details on the machine's beefy specs, but no actual box. At the time, Shuhei Yoshida, President of PlayStation Worldwide Studios said "The console is just a box. The controller was very important to show because it has the share button, but the console is just a console."
Well, today at Sony's E3 press conference, it finally revealed the PS4 in all of its glory. Thankfully, it doesn't look like a VCR. Gone is the concave curve from the PS3 and in is a parallelogram-shaped box. And unlike a certain other next-gen console, it can stand vertically with a stand.
Along with showing off the actual PS4, Sony also spent a good amount of its press conference talking up its games, because the PS4 is all about gaming experiences. PS4 will embrace independent developers like never before, allowing them to self-publish their titles.
140 PS4 games are in development and 100 of them will launch within the first year, with 40 titles being exclusives. Arguably the two biggest surprises at Sony's press conference was a new trailer for Final Fantasy Versus XIII, now officially renamed Final Fantasy XV (that's 15 for you guys who don't know your Roman numerals) and Kingdom Hearts III.
However, Sony made sure to hit Microsoft where it hurts, too. Not only is the PS4 launching this holiday season at $100 less than the Xbox One — $399 in the U.S., £399 in the U.K. and €349 in Europe — but it will support used games without any kind of crazy restrictions. That means when you buy a PS4 game, it's yours and you can do whatever you want with it — lend it to a friend, sell it to GameStop; whatever. Best of all, the PS4 is region-free.
Also, the PS4 doesn't require an Internet connection — at all. The Xbox One, however, does — it needs to ping Microsoft's servers at least once every 24 hours. The Xbox One has watermarked game discs that require installation to the hard drive and prevents friends from playing the game using their own Xbox Live account.
Each PS4 will come a 500GB hard drive, a DualShock 4 controller, a pair of mono headset earbuds, HDMI cable and USB cable. The new PlayStation Eye will be sold separately for $59.
If you ask us, the combination of price, consumer-friendly features and high-end specs put the PS4 above and beyond the Xbox One. This editor preordered an Xbox One this morning, but has since canceled it and preordered a PS4 instead.
(Posted on location at E3 2013 in Los Angeles, California.)