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Sony unveils social-focused PlayStation 4

By PETER SVENSSON and DERRIK J. LANG Published: February 21, 2013
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Among the games that were unveiled for the PS4 on Wednesday were the realistic racing simulator “Drive Club,” super-powered action sequel “Infamous: Second Son,” artsy puzzler “The Witness” and first-person shooter “Killzone: Shadow Fall.”

Last fall, Nintendo launched the next generation of gaming consoles with the Wii U, which comes with a tablet-like controller called the GamePad. The controller allows two people playing the same game to have different experiences depending on whether they use the GamePad or a traditional Wii remote, which itself was revolutionary when it came out because of its motion-control features.

The original Wii has sold more units since its launch than both its rivals, but it has lost momentum in recent years as the novelty of its motion controller faded. Nintendo said it sold 3.1 million Wii Us by the end of 2012. It was a disappointing start for the first of a new generation of gaming systems.

In some ways, notably its ability to display high-definition games, the Wii U was just catching up to the PlayStation 3 and the Xbox 360, the preferred consoles to play popular games like “Call of Duty.”

The PS4 is arriving amid declines in video game hardware, software and accessory sales. Research firm NPD Group said game sales fell 22 percent to $13.3 billion in 2012. With the launch of the PS4, Sony is looking to attract audiences who may have shifted their attention to games on Facebook, tablet computers and mobile phones.

All three console makers are trying to position their devices as entertainment hubs that can deliver movies, music and social networking as they try to stay relevant in the age of smartphones and tablets. The PlayStation online network will have access to Sony's video and music services, as well as Netflix, Hulu and Amazon, with paid subscriptions to those services. People will also be able to access Facebook.

Beyond games, the PlayStation 4 will let people create animation in 3-D using a Move motion controller — all in real time.


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