The fight for the hearts and minds of gamers around the world has begun.
It has been six to seven years since the last major console release (excluding the Wii U, which has not made much of an impact) and gamer boys and girls, men and women, are looking forward to the PlayStation 4 (PS4) and the Xbox One.
People in America are the lucky ones as they will be the first in the world to get both consoles on launch day - last Friday for the PS4 and this Friday for the Xbox One.
For us in Singapore, the wait is excruciating. The PS4 will launch here on Dec 19; the Xbox One, most likely late next year.
Last week, 60 lucky readers of The Straits Times got to try out the PS4 for themselves at a special closed-door event that Digital Life arranged with Sony. But we got to test only the games.
For gaming fans, a new console launch is not just about the games. If it were, there really aren't any to-die-for PS4 titles at launch.
The first thing I want to do when my PS4 arrives is to take it apart and upgrade the 500GB hard disk to the biggest one I can find on the market. With digital downloads becoming more prevalent, including the same-day release as retail copies of many popular games, I want a larger hard disk to store more titles.
In fact, several launch-day titles for the PS4, such as Knack and Resogun, are available only as digital downloads and cannot be bought as game discs over the counter.
It sounds like overkill, but I am already thinking of swopping to a 3TB drive which will set me back about $140. But I am also thinking about whether I should go for speed instead and switch the default 500GB drive to a 240GB solid-state drive for an extra $250, or almost 40 per cent of the price of the console.
But if this halves the loading time, it might be worth the hefty investment, even if it means I am cutting my storage capacity.
Another droolworthy feature I am looking forward to is social sharing: the PS4 automatically saves the last 15 minutes of your gameplay so that you can show off to the world when you do something really cool in your game.
You can share that special moment with your Facebook friends by uploading it from the game console. This may sound weird to non-gamers, but I am pretty sure that gamers will want to show their friends how they got through the toughest stage of a game. Maybe it's a geek thing, but it definitely sounds awesome to me.
It could also be used as a tool to ask for help. Upload the part of the game where you are stuck and get your friends to help. It is not very macho, but it's worth swallowing your pride to advance, especially if it's a new game title which doesn't yet have Internet walkthroughs.
Also highly anticipated is the new cloud streaming feature which lets you play old PS1, PS2 and PS3 games through a real-time streaming service. Streaming movies through Netflix and Hulu Plus is child's play when you compare that with streaming an entire video game.
There is so much more to look forward to, including the new Dualshock controllers and the new PlayStation Eye camera.
But like many, I will be praying that my PS4 does not come with the Blue Light Of Death hardware glitch that has affected some gamers, according to reports online.
Dec 19 just seems like too long a wait. I found out that some shops here are selling parallel imported PS4s for more than $1,000. That's a 50 per cent mark-up on the retail price.
It sounds like a silly thing to pay such a high premium, but I must admit I am tempted. But perhaps good sense will prevail and I will wait for the official launch here and have $300 to spare for more games.
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