Update: For all the official announcements from Sony's PS4 reveal, you can see our full round-up of the biggest stories here.
Original story: With the long-awaited unveiling of the PS4 almost upon us, what can we expect from Sony’s next step into next generation hardware, after seven years of the PS3?
Below we have put together a list of all the biggest rumours accumulated over the last few years – all in one place.
How will the PS4 take advantage of Sony’s $380 million acquisition of cloud gaming outfit Gaikai? Will the new controller feature touch and motion controls? Will it launch this year?
Take a look below to see what could be expect from Sony’s new hardware.
The PS4 will, as expected, will be substantially more powerful than the current capabilities of the PS3, a system that is running on seven-year old tech.
According to VG247, it is expected the hardware will be able to run at 1.84 teraflops, and is allegedly 50 per cent more powerful than the next Xbox, which is said to have been benchmarked at 1.23 teraflops.
The PS4 is also thought to have 4GB of RAM, 1GB of which will be reserved for the operating system, security and apps. It has been speculated since however that Sony may change this to 8GB to compete with Microsoft’s next console, which is said to feature 8GB of RAM.
Sony’s new console is also expected to be based on AMD’s A10 APU and run on eight cores. This use of AMD tech is backed up by earlier speculation in February last year from Forbes, in which a number of former AMD employees stated the company’s tech would play a key part in the new system.
AMD graphics tech is currently used in the Xbox 360, whilst Sony had previously used Nvidia to power the PS3. The move if true would mark a distinct change in strategy for the company.
It is also anticipated that the PS4 will be able to read 100GB Blu-ray discs.
It should be noted however that tonight’s event is unlikely to reveal the exact specifications of the new hardware, and will likely just flag headline grabbing facts and what games it will be able to run.
Like a PC?
Development Kits were reportedly shipped to a number of developers in November last year, housed in PC casing.
There is thought to have been four versions of the dev kit. A previous iteration was essentially just a graphics card, while the version shipped in November was a “modified PC”, and the third version, appearing in January last month, is said to have been close to final spec. A final version will be delivered to developers “next summer”.
A source stated that the dev kits contained either 8GB or 16GB of RAM each.
Edge recently reported that the PS4 development kit had been well received so far, with the new hardware said to be more similar to PC than the PS3 - potentially alleviating some fears that developing on new consoles will be more difficult than ever.
The $380 acquisition of Gaikai
Sony raised eyebrows across the industry when it swooped in to acquire David Perry-led cloud gaming company Gaikai for $380 million in July last year.
The console giant bought the company to establish its own cloud service by taking control of Gaikai’s infrastructure of data centres.
“By combining Gaikai’s resources including its technological strength and engineering talent with SCE’s extensive game platform knowledge and experience, SCE will provide users with unparalleled cloud entertainment experiences,” said SCE president Andrew House at the time.
“SCE will deliver a world-class cloud-streaming service that allows users to instantly enjoy a broad array of content ranging from immersive core games with rich graphics to casual content anytime, anywhere on a variety of internet- connected devices.”
Since its acquisition however, Sony has remained tightlipped about how it intends to use streaming services for the PS4, although it is widely expected to play a key part in the new hardware given the amount of money involved.
The Wall Street Journal recently reported that the tech would be used to offer backwards compatibility with PS3 titles, with new games to be stored on optical discs.
Details are still light however on how the service could work, if at all, for games specifically made for the PS4. It is also unclear if users would need to buy PS3 games they already own to play again on the PS4, although this would seem likely given the lack of activation codes provided with retail console titles.
Whatever happens with Gaikai, cloud gaming could give the Sony a significant and unique advantage over its rivals and potentially set up the PS4 for long-term sustainability.
Sony’s streaming tech may also lead to consumers being able to play games on their mobile devices, making Sony’s new hardware becoming more of an entertainment hub than just a closed games console.
The move is already backed up by a number of entertainment services hitting the PS3, such as BBC iPlayer, 4OD, Lovelfilm and Netflix being available to play through the current generation console, and would be in line with rival Microsoft’s move to transform the Xbox into a similar product.
The Wall Street Journal said that using Gaikai’s cloud tech, cross-compatability with mobile devices, such as tablets and smartphones, will be possible, allowing players to take their console game experience on the move.
Sony’s handheld, PS Vita, currently enables certain games to be cross-compatible with the PS3, with games such as Wipeout 2048 and PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale offering ‘cross-play’ multiplayer.
The new PlayStation will also allow players to share achievements on social networks through more refined links to Facebook or Twitter, while also enabling content such as sharing footage of gameplay via YouTube, people familiar with Sony's plans said.
The move would likely be welcomed by developers, offering a range of new and interesting possibilities for gameplay features, and enabling consumers to continue with a title in different forms when away from the living room.
It will be interesting to see however how developers would cope with such an array of devices to develop content for, and whether any would take advantage of this.
A redesigned controller
Last month it was reported by CVG that Sony was set to ditch its classic DualShock controller design, with the new gamepad looking little like the old design. One source suggested the console giant was “trying to emulate the same user interface philosophies as the PS Vita”.
Sony has used its DualShock joypad design since the first ever PlayStation, and was introduced back in 1997.
Last week however, am early prototype PS4 controller was leaked across the internet, which showed a modified DualShock controller with a touchscreen in place of the PS, select and start buttons. The image provided by Destructoid, pictured below, also appears to show a PlayStation Move sensor on the top of the controller.
The sides are more rounded than the current generation gamepad, and the analog sticks also seem to borrow some from the PlayStation Vita.
There is also a speaker or microphone integrated into the device, an unidentified port on the bottom, and an unmarked button to the upper-left of the touchpad.
It remains to be seen whether the final design will look like the above, but is something Sony will almost certainly reveal during tonight's PS4 announcement.
Release date and cost
The PS4 is expected to launch as early as October, according to Baird Equity Research’s Colin Sebastian, who also stated Microsoft would launch its next Xbox in November, although Edge has claimed the console may not arrive, at least in Europe, till early 2014.
Despite claims of launching before the next Xbox however, a number of Sony executives have repeatedly said in the past that the PlayStation outfit will not launch the PS4 before Microsoft releases the next Xbox.
Last month Sony CEO Kaz Hirai said the company would not be keen on making the first move in the next generation of consoles through fear of having its ideas copied by Microsoft.
"Why go first, when your competitors can look at your specifications and come up with something better?,” he said.
Although Sony is set to reveal the PS4 before Microsoft shows its hand, this could again mean that Sony is unlikely to reveal details specifications during tonight’s event.
In June last year, SCEE CEO Jack Tretton also stated to GameTrailers that the company had never been first, and nor was it ever the cheapest on the market, but rather it was about being the best console available, suggesting the next Xbox would come first.
"We've never been first, we've never been cheapest, it's about being best,” said Tretton.
"And I think if you can build a better machine and it's going to come out a little bit later, that's better than rushing something to market that's going to run out of gas for the long-term."
Even as early as 2010, Sony Worldwide Studios boss Shuhei Yoshida told Develop that he imagined Nintendo or Microsoft would jump first into the next generation of consoles, suggesting the PS3 was more powerful and had a longer lifespan than its rivals.
“Looking from the outside, it was Microsoft that released the first of this generation of consoles. Naturally, in my opinion, Microsoft will make the first move,” said Yoshida.
“Or, because Nintendo’s approach was not to upgrade much on its basic hardware – Wii doesn’t even support HD resolution – so they might be the first to move.
“Probably the watch should be on these companies, in my opinion. Because PS3 was later than Xbox, and is more powerful, so it has a longer lifespan.”
A number of price tags have been bandied around, and The Times as recently as yesterday claimed that the PlayStation 4 would be priced at £300 in the UK.
This is a dramatically lower price than its predecessor, which launched at £425 in the UK, and would also put the hardware in serious competition with Nintendo’s Wii U, which launched its premium package at £300.
The US price for the console will probably be lower; while the UK price amounts to $464, hardware is usually cheaper in America.
A source speaking to Kotaku however has stated that Sony is set to release two models of the hardware, which will retail at $429 and $529 in the US, although this is subject to change. This is similar to translating the £300 UK price tag into US currency, which amounts to $464 when converted.
Whichever figure is correct, it is unlikely that Sony will announce a price or a launch date at tonight's PlayStation 4 announcement, instead perhaps opting to wait for Microsoft to reveal its console before making any final decisions.
As there has been no word from Sony over details on the PS4, the console giant has also understandably been quiet on any potential games for its next generation hardware.
However, a number of titles already thought to be next-gen ready, such as Ubisoft’s Watch Dogs and LucasArts’ Star Wars 1313, could make it to tonight’s unveiling to help show off the new console’s capabilities after dazzling visitors at last year's E3 exhibition.
Unreal Engine 4 could also make a big appearance, given it has been designed with new consoles in mind, as well as a number of third-party developers showcasing their upcoming games for the first time. And don’t forget about Square Enix’s Luminous Engine, which is said to be next-gen ready.
Details could also be revealed of what Sony’s first-party studios have been working on, such as perhaps Naughty Dog or even Team Ico with its troubled title The Last Guardian. The latter however seems extremely unlikely.
To keep up with tonight’s announcement, you can watch the live stream here.
Develop will also be reporting the news as it happens live from the event, so stay posted for all the latest development news.