By Larry Frum, Special to CNN – Sony’s big Wednesday event in New York for the new PlayStation 4 was streamed live online around the world — filled with gameplay, tech talk and a display of new features.
Curious gamers watched, flocking to Twitter and other social sites to share their thoughts. Perhaps ironically, not everyone was a fan of the PS4’s ability to share via social sites.
Lead system architect Mark Cerny outlined a menu of new social features built in to the PS4 such as sharing gameplay with friends, being connected through existing social networks and monitoring what you play and what you purchase.
“Why does Sony think we want to tell everyone about what games we’re playing?” Andrew Meskill wrote on Twitter. “I want to sit in a dark room on my own with a pad.”
In the gaming world, some said, sharing isn’t always a plus. “I would much rather figure out how to beat the game myself rather than have someone complete it for me,” Chris Jarvis tweeted.
And in the social age, whenever there’s talk of sharing, inevitably the discussion turns to privacy concerns.
“‘This system is very aware of the player and whatever is going on in the room at any given point,” tweeted Jason Evangelho, a tech contributor for Forbes. “I DO NOT want this, do you?”
But Dennis Fong, CEO of gaming-oriented social site Raptr, told CNN he thinks the social sharing feature built in to the PS4 is exactly what next-generation devices should be doing.
“The ability to capture an image, video, or instantly broadcast what’s on your screen to your friends is transformational for the new generation of consoles,” Fong said. “Providing players community tools to create content for your game in the form of videos and live broadcasts is not simply a cool feature for gamers but also great for business. User-generated content keeps players engaged with the game even while they aren’t playing it and also attracts new users from the buzz generated around this content.”
But features aside, a gaming system is only as good as its games.
That theme started early in the day when gamers on Twitter created the trending hashtag #PlayStationMemories. Many used it to recall fondly playing classic titles such as “Crash Bandicoot” or “Spyro the Dragon” on the original PlayStation console.
Sony showed off how powerful the PS4 will be with in-game footage and demos from a handful of new titles, including updates to the “Killzone” and “InFamous” franchises.
Their visuals and gameplay demos induced a lot of digital drooling.
“The pre-release video of ‘Killzone 2′ convinced me to get a PS3. ‘Killzone 4′ might’ve just done the same for the #PS4. Outstanding!” Jon Lomas wrote about the demo for “Killzone: Shadow Fall.”
Even brand new games, such as “Deep Down” from Capcom, drew praise despite not showing any in-game footage. Lauren Anne liked what she saw when a dragon appeared on screen.
“Oh yes! Deep Down is going to be my top purchase for PS4!” she tweeted. “Dragons and gorgeous graphics are win-win for me!”
But the snark Twitter is famous for was evident during the rollout of “InFamous: Second Son,” a game set in a dystopian future where cameras monitor your every move.
“Ironically, this game is coming out on a system that will track & broadcast every damn thing you do or play or buy,” wrote Game Informer senior features editor Matt Helgeson.
Some folks didn’t like that while tons of details were rolled out, the PlayStation 4 console wasn’t displayed Wednesday.
“#2HoursIllNeverGetBack,” tweeted one user in the site’s hashtag-as-punchline style.
Richard Preston went with a more established Internet catchphrase.
“Pic or it didn’t happen,” he wrote.
In the end, most who paid attention seemed impressed with what they saw. But not all were ready to hand Sony the console-wars victory.
“#PS4 looking nice, but can’t wait to see what #Microsoft has,” wrote one user. “The ball is in your court now.”
Many gaming insiders predict that Microsoft will show off its new console — possibly the Xbox 720 — at the Electronic Entertainment Expo in June. That would likely mean new consoles from the two rivals both will hit the market in time for the holidays.