Rumour round-up: What to expect from Sony's console launch

Jonathan Weinberg

Sony is set to unveil the successor to its best-selling games console on Wednesday night - but tech gossip is divided about whether the new machine can recapture PlayStation's glory days.

The internet is unsurprisingly awash with rumours of what we can expect from the machine, which arrives at a time when traditional home console gaming is falling in popularity.

They include reports of a £300 price-tag for the PlayStation 4 in the UK - and the suggestion that PS4 will connect to, smartphones, tablets and the PS Vita handheld.

Other suggestions include it being controlled by a mobile phone or featuring the classic DualShock controller but with a touchpad attached.

                       [Related: The best camera-phones for serious photographers]

And pictures 'leaked' or imagined by fans put its design as anything from an Orb to a more traditional-looking but thinner and smaller box.

One rumour also suggested it will feature a way to capture in-game footage of up to 15 minutes of your own action with a single record button, enabling you to upload the mini movie straight to the internet.

There is also expected to be social network compatibility for Facebook and Twitter, far faster processing chips and top-of-the-range graphics including support for new Ultra High-Definition or 4K TV sets, which Sony champions.

The PS4 should also run off some sort of cloud-server allowing owners to instantly download the latest big hitting games - potentially in chapters as they are needed - rather than having to buy them as discs from the shops.

But after sluggish sales for Nintendo's new WiiU along with falling demand for games for PS3 and Xbox 360, many now wonder if the golden age of console gaming has had its day, with users migrating to cheaper app-based fun.

Industry experts say there is still enough of an audience for Sony to tap into but admit the Japanese giant will need to come up with something different and special at a reasonable price, especially with Microsoft's Xbox 720 replacement for the Xbox 360 incoming too.

                       [Related: The best camera-phones for serious photographers]

According to Michael French, Editor-in-Chief of games industry trade mag MCV, the PS4 needs to deliver to rescue the genre.

He said: "New hardware and new software can help the industry not just reclaim some attention lost to mobile and tablet games, but broadly raise its game out of the doldrums.

"Hopefully we will get a clear picture, or at least a good glimpse, at what the successor to the PlayStation 3 will look like. I think we can spend to long speculating on if it has streaming games, download games or an open publishing platform.

"The most important things for the industry and consumers are if it has a good selection of games and is affordable. Games retail has faced some pretty slow trading over the last 12 months, thanks in no part to a lack of excitement and imagination from the current generation of consoles."

Just before midnight UK time tomorrow (Wednesday) we should have a better answer with Sony kicking off its press conference at 11pm GMT and Yahoo! News UK will have all the latest launch information direct from our correspondent in America.

                       [Related: The best camera-phones for serious photographers]

In the meantime, games industry analyst Nicholas Lovell, of, believes the massive amount of entertainment content currently available to us could prove tricky for Sony.

He explained: "We now live in an era of abundance, where there are more games and content than we can ever possibly consume. Some of these are free, some are very expensive, but we have lots of choice.

"We've seen how that has played out on PS3 and Xbox 360: boxed sales are down massively from their 2008 peak, THQ and GAME have gone bust and yet almost every year Rockstar or Activision release a game that breaks all records, selling tens of millions of units.

"The issue with the next generation of console is not whether hobbyist gamers (meaning people who would define gaming as their hobby) will buy it: it’s how Sony will make up the lost revenue, both in hardware revenue and the royalty revenue generated from every game sold for its platform, from the more casual users who have been distracted away to other more accessible platforms, particularly the phone and tablet."

He added longer-term thinking that allows players to make multiple purchases in-game over months and years will be key to a successful PS4.

Mr Lovell said: "My hope is Sony creates a platform that will enable publishers and developers to experiment widely with different business models. They want to move away from a business model that involves a single box once every 12 or 24 months and instead have an ongoing revenue stream.

"If Sony think they are producing a product for the mass market, where publishers will succeed or fail based on increased volume of products they sell, they will be in trouble.