If you feel that since we didn’t get to see what the PlayStation 4 looks like when it was announced recently, it's about time we had a look at something more than just the controller, well your patience has just been rewarded. Gematsu has posted what it says are official, high-resolution screenshots of the next-gen console's UI.
The biggest and most obvious change appears to be the lack of the now-iconic Xross Media Bar. Instead of the XMB, Sony seems to have opted for an interface that has more in common with the current iteration of the Xbox 360 dashboard. Instead of the sleek (but sometimes cumbersome) XMB, we now have bigger icons and tiles, arranged asymmetrically, giving it a look somewhat similar to Microsoft’s Metro UI.
We also get a look at the sharing and streaming options that are going to be available on the console. One of the screenshots shows a chat window with what appears to be a live stream of the game, along with an optional stream of the player’s face and voice. This feature also seems to be available on the PlayStation 4 smartphone apps, and the general interface of the PS4 seems to be the same on the tablet apps.
These screenshots hint at the importance Sony is placing on making the PlayStation experience more social and digital. Earlier this month, it was revealed that digital distribution is going to be a big thing for Sony and the PlayStation 4. Sony Worldwide Studio head Suhei Yoshida revealed, “The PS4 will be similar to PS Vita in that every game will be available as a digital download, and some will also be available as a disc,” he said.
He also revealed more information about how games would be priced and the availability of free-to-play titles. “The Witness will be a digital release and because of the flexibility of the digital distribution scheme, we can have more small games that might be free or available for a couple of dollars, or different services like free-to-play or subscription models,” Yoshida said.
While this is no big deal for gaming in general, it's still a pretty important next step for console gaming. Until recently, digital distribution wasn't even an option for consoles. Even with the current-gen systems, digital distribution isn't that much of an option, especially with the Xbox 360. The major reason for that is, some models of the 360 bundle a very low capacity HDD, which doesn't leave much room for downloaded games, especially with most gamers using the console for smaller indie titles or installing games from discs to cut down on loading times.
Yoshida also revealed that Sony may be considering multiple tiers for its PlayStation Plus service, especially with regard to its monthly free games. “As more and more services and content become available digitally, we'll have more of an option to create attractive packages. So hypothetically we can look at different models – like a cable TV company,” Yoshida explained. “We could have gold, silver or platinum levels of membership… We can do subscription services when we have more content – especially now that we have the Gaikai technology available. With one subscription you have access to thousands of games – that's our dream.”
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