I get it. For Sony to hold a PlayStation event and not show off its newest PlayStation product is baffling. It’s not normal. In fact, it breaks pretty much the first rule of any hardware announcement -show the hardware. A lot of people, myself included, were upset when SCE president and CEO Andrew House bid everyone farewell without showing the PS4 or even hinting at a price. I felt slightly cheated. I felt like I sat through Sony’s vegetable and meat courses but was denied a sweet dessert in the end. But like any sudden emotional response, it just took a little time and reasoning for me to understand why not showing the PS4 isn’t as big a deal as it appeared.
There are a few reasons why Sony didn’t show an actual console. For one, the final version likely doesn’t exist yet. We’re about nine months away from the PS4’s retail release. Within those nine months, hardware and specifications can change. SCEA president Jack Tretton said something similar in an interview with All Things D.
“We’re certainly capable of showing playable game content, but we don’t have a mass-production box that we can bring out and pull out,” Tretton said. “That’s still in development in terms of final specs and design.”
I also believe Sony was forced to show its hand before it was ready. That’s why it held this big event at the end of February. It needed to beat Microsoft to the punch. By doing that, it had to sacrifice showing off functioning hardware in favor of being first out the gate.
We also have to approach this situation from a business prospective. Microsoft still has to put together the reveal for the next Xbox. On that day, all attention will be directed towards them. Sony has to counter that effect somehow. By keeping so much as a prototype PS4 hidden, Sony ensures that it has another card to play between now and E3. It has to keep the hype going. It can’t put everything on the table at once because it won’t have any more ammunition later on.
Lastly – we already know what it will look like. The PS4 is going to be a box. A black rectangular box. Now, I understand why that this won’t satisfy some people. I know we want to see what we’re being asked to invest time and money in. But does not seeing the PS4 hardware right now really lower the chances of you buying one? Yesterday, we learned a lot about the PS4 inside and out. We know the features it will contain, we know the philosophy being the developer-friendly architecture and we know a handful of games that will be coming to the platform. In my opinion, that’s much more important than the shape of a little black box.