Next-Gen Report: PS4 Price, Xbox 720  Voice Recognition

Not one week of 2013 has passed without some kind of juicy, polarizing next-gen rumor, or announcement, or tease of an upcoming announcement. These leaks and reports have only become more frequent since the debut of Sony’s “See the Future” trailer on January 31st, and there’s no reason to believe the pace will break anytime soon – certainly not before the February 20th reveal of… whatever it is Sony has in store.

The latest batch of officially unconfirmed next-gen details covers PlayStation 4‘s prospective price and release date, and the fidelity of Xbox 720‘s alleged voice recognition capability. In other next-gen news, Ubisoft CEO Yves Guillemot has broadly commented on the new consoles, and GameStop has responded to reports that Xbox 720 will not play used games.

Japanese newspaper Asahi Shimbun reported this morning that Sony’s PlayStation 4 will hit retail before the end of the year in Japan and the United States, and that the hardware is expected to cost more than ¥40,000 ($427 US Dollars). This information certainly squares with recent rumors about the system’s release date and its launch price, though there is some confusion about the price specifics in the Asahi Shimbun story. According to CVG, the Asahi Shimbun piece claims that “Sony has internally set the PS4 price above 40,000,” while a Kotaku translation posits that the story actually says PS4 “is believed” or “is expected” to retail at that price, and that the figure in question is speculation on the part of the paper.

PS4 Concept Render

Meanwhile, The Verge reports that the next Xbox will feature advanced, Siri-like voice recognition capabilities that work with natural language. Allegedly, users will be able to power up the system with a simple voice command, and speech-to-text will be supported, most likely for messaging purposes. Presumably, Kinect 2.0 will be a significant component Xbox 720’s voice recognition faculty –  it’s been said to include an improved microphone and, potentially, the ability to recognize emotions and read lips – lending yet more credence to the notion that Microsoft’s next-gen motion sensor will ship right alongside the next Xbox.

Electronic Arts CEO John Riccitiello recently opined that the next generation is “yet to come,” noting that his company is “excited about” and “investing in” the forthcoming consoles. Today, in a conference call following the release of Ubisoft’s third quarter 2012-2013 sales results, CEO Yves Guillemot also sang the praises of the upcoming systems.

“What we just can say about those machines is that they have a fantastic potential, and that they will help the industry to continue to grow exponentially, because they are really bringing innovation that will be fantastic for the industry.”

To what “innovations” might Guillemot be referring? Controllers with touch screens? Sheer hardware power? Or, perhaps, something that might be less attractive to consumers – something like the ability to block the playing of used games? After all, big publishers like Ubisoft and Electronic Arts stand to greatly benefit from such a policy – from their perspective, it truly would be “fantastic for the industry” – especially if (as Giant Bomb’s Jeff Gerstmann suggested on Twitter) the new consoles actually do allow users to play used games, so long as those users are willing to pay a season’s pass-like fee for the privilege.

Next-Gen Used Games

Understandably, consumers can hardly be expected to show much support for such an initiative. Neither can specialty retailer GameStop, which makes nearly half its profits from the sale of used games. In the wake of yesterday’s report that Xbox 720 will not support the playing of used games (and, remember, the same may be true of PS4), the retailer’s stock dropped in value by 6%, and spokesperson Matt Hodges offered the following statement.

“We know the desire to purchase a next-generation console would be significantly diminished if new consoles were to prohibit playing pre-owned games, limit portability or not play new physical games.”

According to Hodges, that opinion is backed-up by surveys conducted with members of GameStop’s PowerUp Rewards program, though specific details from those surveys have not been made public. That said, a brief perusal of the comments on Game Rant (I’d suggest starting here) appears to back up Hodges’ statement.

Let’s hear it, Ranters. Is $400 the right price for the next PlayStation? Is voice recognition a feature you’re looking for in future consoles? Do you believe that Xbox 720 and PS4 won’t play used games (without a fee), and if they don’t, will you buy either one? Let us know in the comments below.

Follow me on Twitter @HakenGaken.

Source: CVG, Kotaku, The Verge, @jeffgerstmann, Bloomberg, Ubisoft

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