Talk of the next-generation in console gaming has left large portions of the gaming community talking back and forth about things like launch dates, system specs, and of course, always casting a giddily nervous eye in the direction of June and the annual E3 event. But recent news that Sony Corp. was planning a major PlayStation meeting for February 20—its first such event in two years—left many wondering if maybe the new product was getting unveiled early.
While Sony wouldn't say if it was planning to unveil the PlayStation 4, known in many circles as the Orbis, word from spokesman Masaki Tsukakoshi revealed that Sony would be "talking about the PlayStation business," but not much else. At the previous PlayStation meeting, however, the company brought out a prototype of the Vita console. The meeting prior to that saw the PlayStation 3 concept demonstrated, and the meeting before that saw the PlayStation 2's designs unveiled.
With the precedent of the products of several previous meetings behind it, it's easy to see why many are starting to think "PlayStation 4 unveiling". Considering that the PlayStation 3 is now over six years old, which is a long time in console gaming circles, that's also fueling speculation about a new product launch. But it's hard to deny that the console gaming market has been changed substantially by the launch of smartphones and tablets, each bringing their own new spin to the market and leaving console gamers forced to divide the market pie in more ways than the past. This is being seen in the recent sales figures for the Wii U, Nintendo's shot at the next generation, as Nintendo has recently cut those figures back. Console gaming companies are going to need big, impressive new product launches just to keep users from thinking more about gaming with their smartphones and less about gaming with big boxes that can only be used at home.
It stands to reason that if Sony is planning to roll out a new PlayStation at this meeting, then that's going to behoove Microsoft (News - Alert) to step up its plans as well. Microsoft can't very well allow talk of the new PlayStation to take over news cycles until E3, where Microsoft was originally projected to roll out its own device, an update to the aging Xbox 360. No, if Sony shows off a new device, it's going to put a lot of pressure on Microsoft to make its own unveiling. It's bad enough to be last, but it's even worse to be last by a factor of months.
While the entire market is likely now focused breathlessly on February 20 to see just what it is Sony's looking to roll out, most are expecting a new PlayStation. And if a new PlayStation gets shown off in February, it's a safe bet that a new Xbox will come not long after. That might make 2013 a much bigger year in gaming than anyone expected.
Edited by Jamie Epstein