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Sony’s new Playstation: The end of an era or the future of home entertainment?

Game controler shown on the screen as Sony introduces the PlayStation 4 at a news conference February 20, 2013 in New York.
Game controler shown on the screen as Sony introduces the PlayStation 4 at a news conference February 20, 2013 in New York.

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It has been seven years since Sony Corp. released a new version of its PlayStation (PS) game console, and the entertainment market has undoubtedly changed considerably in that time.

Not only does Sony now have to compete with other console proprietors like Xbox-maker Microsoft, but also with smartphones, tablets, and other mobile gaming devices hoping to carve out their share of the market. Some games for mobile devices are given away for free or for a $1, which is virtually free compared to a PS3 game that sells for nearly $60. Prices for the new PlayStation games are not yet officially announced, but Sony will have to work a little harder to convince consumers to fork over anything close to PS3 prices. With console sales slowing, some industry observers are wondering how well home video game consoles will survive in a constantly changing marketplace.

Sony certainly is not giving up on the market anytime soon and will likely fight hard to keep the PlayStation relevant. Accordingly, the new PlayStation exploits advancements in networking and cloud technology. One new feature targeting gamers who are also social networkers is the “Share” button on the new Playstation controllers, which allows players to instantly share their game status and chat on social media sites like Facebook.

The new device will also offer gamers the ability to stream games live over the internet in real time. Another strategy widely expected to be implemented by Sony and other game console makers is that of bolstering their multimedia capabilities and on-demand entertainment services. If Sony and other console makers successfully establish their systems as central hubs for home entertainment, they may be able to maintain their relevance with consumers.

How popular are home video game consoles in 2013? Are consoles like the Xbox 360 and the PS3 dinosaurs in the age of the iPhone and iPad? Do expensive home consoles still have a strong enough consumer following to maintain profitability? How much would you be willing pay for the new PS4?

Tim Stevens, Editor-in-chief, Engadget, a news outlet devoted to covering gadgets, science and consumer electronics