By Jared Newman | Saturday, May 28, 2011 at 9:55 am
Just a few months ago, the Playstation 4 was not even a thought on Sony’s collective mind — at least according to Sony Computer Entertainment head Kaz Hirai.
But now, a different executive has fessed up. Work on a future Playstation platform is already underway, says Masaru Kato, Sony’s executive vice president and chief financial officer. His comments came up when asked to explain higher research and development costs to investors, Eurogamer reports.
Sony’s next video console, which at this point has no name or release date, won’t require the kind of huge investment that made the Playstation 3 unprofitable for years, Kato said. With the Playstation 3, Sony invested in its own semiconductor facilities, but that seems unlikely this time around.
(UPDATE: Kato tells the Wall Street Journal that his remarks on research and development costs were actually in reference to Sony’s next-generation portable system, and that his other comments were a “general statement,” rather than an acknowledgement that the PS4 is in development. Sounds like spin to me, but whatever.)
I’ve proven awful at predicting when we’ll see new consoles from Sony, Microsoft and Nintendo, but at this point, the picture is getting clearer. Nintendo has already announced that it’s developing a Wii successor for a 2012 launch, and the rumor mill is starting to churn on a follow-up to Microsoft’s Xbox 360.
In Sony’s case, the company has talked about a 10-year life cycle for the Playstation 3, which launched in November 2006. If the Playstation 4 — or whatever it’s called — launches within the next few years, that’ll put Sony right on schedule. It can keep supporting the Playstation 3 until 2016 or beyond, while transitioning most of its resources to the next console.
The bigger point is that the gears are finally turning. A year ago, there was only silence on the new console front, but now we’re starting to see rumors, murmurs and confirmations for all the big three console makers. It’s only going to intensify from now on.