The PlayStation 4 debuts today, sparking a new round in the battle over your attention span, thumb endurance and, ultimately, checkbook. But despite all the fanfare over Sony’s latest release, the PS4 will only enjoy a week alone in the spotlight, with Microsoft set to launch its own next-generation console, the Xbox One, on Nov. 22.
Here’s a breakdown of some of the details you’ll want to know about Sony’s new console:
$399.99: The launch price of the PS4, a significant drop from the PS3’s much-maligned opening price of $499.99 for the 20-GB model and $599.99 for 60 GB. More important, that price point places the device $100 below the opening cost of the Xbox One, reversing the price advantage the Xbox 360 held over the PS3.
80 million: The number of PS3 units shipped as of Nov. 2, 2013, an impressive figure given the Xbox 360’s yearlong head start and 79.4 million shipped as of Sept. 30, 2013. But given the success of the PS2, which from 2002 to 2012 has sold 155 million units worldwide, it’s no surprise that Sony has aggressively sought to crush its closest competition, Microsoft.
3 million: The estimated total of consumer sales for the PS4 by the end of the year, according to Sony. By March 2014, following the console’s launch in Japan, the company expects to sell an additional 2 million. During the same length of time, the PS3 sold 3.5 million units.
26: The number of launch titles accompanying the PS4’s debut. At the forefront are big-budget exclusives including “Killzone: Shadow Fall” and “Knack,” but the majority of the games are either ports of PS3 titles, such as “Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag” and “Battlefield 4,” or downloadable titles, such as “Trine 2” and “Resogun.”
$49.99: Though it launched at a higher price than the Xbox 360, the PS3 boasted an entirely free online multiplayer suite, while Microsoft required a $50 annual fee from users wishing to play online.
Later on in the PS3’s life span, Sony introduced PlayStation Plus, an equally priced online subscription service offering occasional deals and monthly free games. But PS+ and that subscription fee are now mandatory for anyone who wants to take their PS4 games online.
x86: Much of the PS3’s initial marketing was focused on the Cell Processor, a supposed miracle with which PlayStation creator Ken Kutaragi hoped to revolutionize not just video game consoles but many consumer electronics, allowing them to communicate with each other to increase processing capabilities.
For the PS4, Sony has dropped Cell for Intel’s x86, which is used by the Xbox One and PCs, making cross-platform development significantly easier. The reason? Building games for the unique Cell architecture presented a hurdle for developers, a problem that hampered many early PS3 titles.
1080p: The new gold standard in resolution. Just look at the reaction to the news that the latest “Call of Duty” would run at 720p on the Xbox One, identical to the Xbox 360 version. The PS4 version hits 1080p, and the difference is dramatic. But that advantage won’t last forever: Xbox One has its own 1080p titles. So expect the average game to look significantly sharper than you’re used to on the PS3 or Xbox 360.