Rumor Mill: Sony's new PlayStation 4 will integrate mobile gaming support

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The next iteration of Sony Corporation's PlayStation gaming console will introduce a series of new features including support for smartphones and other portable devices, The Wall Street Journal reports.

Sony is expected to take the wraps off the PlayStation 4 during a Wednesday media event in New York City. According to sources familiar with Sony's plans, the unit--the company's first new gaming console since the PlayStation 3 reached retail in late 2006--will support conventional disc-based gameplay experiences but also will enable gamers to access titles streamed from the cloud. In mid-2012, Sony acquired cloud-based gaming service Gaikai for a reported $380 million, and insiders say Sony has made significant investments to incorporate Gaikai's technology into the PlayStation platform. Last year, Sony Computer Entertainment President and CEO Andrew House said the Gaikai deal signaled a "recognition on Sony's part that the cloud and cloud-streaming technologies are going to have a profound and possibly a very positive impact."

Sources told the Journal that the PlayStation 4 will allow gamers to compete against other players across different connected device form factors, adding the electronics giant has been developing a touch-based controller modeled after smartphone touchscreens. Sony additionally will introduce new social sharing features, letting users post PlayStation achievements to Facebook (NASDAQ:FB) or Twitter and upload gameplay footage to Google's (NASDAQ:GOOG) YouTube. 

Sony released its own PlayStation Vita handheld to U.S. consumers in early 2012. The device's Cross-Platform Play feature lets PS Vita games interact with compatible PlayStation 3 games. Sony also offers a PlayStation Suite certification program designed to extend classic titles like Crash Bandicoot and Gran Turismo across the mobile ecosystem; PlayStation Suite manufacturing partners include HTC, Fujitsu and Sharp.

An estimated 211.5 million American consumers play videogames across all platforms, according to NPD Group data published last year. Console manufacturers like Sony, Nintendo and Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) once dominated the gaming landscape, but the emergence of mobile devices and hundreds of thousands of bargain-priced games has dramatically transformed the economics of the segment: Mobile gamers now account for 22 percent of the total U.S. gaming market, up 9 percentage points year-over-year, and represent the largest demographic segment within the national gaming audience. At the same time, sales of new titles, consoles and videogame accessories at U.S. retail stores have contracted every month for more than a year, NPD adds.

For more:
- read this Wall Street Journal article
- read this Verge article

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