The struggle for next-gen supremacy kicks off in just under 2 months, and both sides seem eager for the scrap. While Microsoft line their left flank with TV features aplenty, Sony set about staffing their divisions with indie darlings. High above the battlefield swoop scores of smart phone and tablet devices - like the flimsy fighter planes of old, their part in this conflict is only just emerging, and may yet affect its outcome.
Sony it seems, is acutely aware of this, and has reworked its Official PlayStation App to accommodate next-gen levels of connectivity. First announced back in February of this year, the re-jigged companion program builds upon the limited social functions of its predecessor —introduced in 2010 — to provide an intriguing array of options.
- 'Connect to PS4' second screen usage, including live stream viewing, map screen & inventory displays (with compatible titles)
- Tablet control, as an alternative to regular joypad play
- Remote PSN purchases, when tied to a valid PSN account
- Extended core feature set, improved friend's list, Trophies, Twitter & Facebook interaction, new multiplayer invites and more
Taking the stage at this year's Tokyo Game Show, Sony Computer Entertainment Worldwide President Shuhei Yoshida gave attendees the briefest of glimpses at the app in action, manipulating on-screen elements via smartphone. Despite the rushed nature of the display, the demonstration did appear to suggest camera-to-camera connectivity (with the optional PS4 camera acting as the recipient device), as Yoshida drew simple pictures before dropping them into the game.
It remains to be seen whether the PS App will operate as a standalone, Sony-only type hub, or as the nucleus of every PlayStation-compatible meta-game, i.e. The Division's drone control program or Metal Gear Solid 5's level editor. Fans would likely appreciate a focal point program, similar to Steam, over a myriad of title-specific add-ons, each requiring their own PSN sign-in.
While the PlayStation Vita may already share many of the App's touted features, their fresh injection into smartphone and tablet devices could prove doubly troubling for Nintendo. Whereas the potential of Vita-to-home console connectivity was largely curbed by unimpressive handheld sales, most gamers can lay claim to a modern cell phone or tablet. With such a wide install-base, more developers than ever before will be able to develop typically Wii U-like experiences for the PlayStation 4, further hurting Nintendo's stock.
Will you be downloading the PlayStation App this November? Does putting down your joypad to pick up a tablet interest you? Are meta-games going to improve top titles or simply migrate their feature sets? Have your say in the comments below, and be sure to check out all of the latest PlayStation news.
The PlayStation App will launch alongside the PlayStation 4 console this November, for iOS & Android-equipped devices.
Follow Sam on Twitter @GamingGoo.