Sony Launches PlayStation 4

New features for streaming games, social media, cloud-based networks and other improvements will heat up competition with Microsoft
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Sony has launched a new gaming console, the
PlayStation 4, which has a number of notable new features, including the
ability to stream games, second screen access, a new controller and greatly
enhanced graphics, computing power and memory for improved visuals and game
play, during a live event Wednesday.

Sony did not release pricing or availability except to say that it would be available for the 2013 holidays.

Much
of the lengthy presentation focused on how the new features would significantly
improve the quality of game play in terms of graphics, personalization, social
media, group game play and cloud-based access to games and content.

The
company also stressed that the console was designed to make it easier for
developers to create new games and the launch event featured extensive promos
for new games.

The
cloud-based network for game-play could offer new ways for the delivery and
discovery of additional entertainment content. During the launch event, Sony
was vague on what additional content it planned to add, noting only that
additional details would be unveiled later this year.

The
launch is important for Sony, which has made gaming a central part of its strategy
to revitalize the company's struggling consumer electronics business. But it
also comes at a key juncture for the overall gaming industry and for
broadcasters and programmers.

For
TV players, game consoles have become a very popular way to distribute video
into the home. Consoles are by far the most popular way to hook up a TV to the
internet and Microsoft developed its Xbox Live streaming platform to offer a
wide array of content.

Sony
has also been expanding the content available on its consoles and in January
launched the Sony Entertainment online store in North America. Like other major
consumer electronics manufacturers it has also been working to make it easier
to access content across all of its devices.

The
launch is also crucial for the gaming console industry. Microsoft is expected
to launch a new version of its Xbox console at some point this year.

Game
console companies have been impacted by the growing importance of tablets and
smart phones, which have become increasingly popular platforms. New consoles
that could boost sales would be welcome news for the industry that has seen
sluggish console and game sales.

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