LOS ANGELES » Sony broke out the heavy ammunition Monday against Microsoft, announcing its forthcoming PlayStation 4 will cost $399 — $100 less than the competing Xbox One.
"The gaming landscape is changing with new business models and new ways to play," said Andrew House, president and CEO of Sony Computer Entertainment.
The price announcement wasn’t the only shot fired at Microsoft during Sony’s presentation at the Electronic Entertainment Expo, the gaming industry’s annual U.S. trade show. The loudest applause at the company’s event show came when Jack Tretton, president and CEO of Sony Computer Entertainment America, announced that the company would not try to restrict used game sales. Tretton also said the PS4 would not require a persistent online connection.
"PlayStation 4 disc-based games don’t need to be connected online to play or any type of authentication," said Tretton. "If you enjoy playing single-player games offline, PS4 won’t require to you check in online period and it won’t stop working if you haven’t authenticated in 24 hours."
Microsoft has been criticized for its vague statements about whether it will allow buyers of its Xbox One to play secondhand software, as well as its requirement that the new console be connected to the Internet at least once every 24 hours.
Beyond those issues, Sony gave potential PS4 buyers plenty of games to look forward to later this year. The company’s Santa Monica Studios, the developer of the "God of War" franchise, introduced the steampunk thriller "The Order: 1866." Quantic Dream, the French studio behind "Heavy Rain" and the upcoming "Beyond: Two Souls," provided a comical glimpse at the fantasy "The Dark Sorcerer."
Shu Yoshida, president of Sony Worldwide Studios, said the company’s studios have more than 30 PS4 games in development, including 12 brand new intellectual properties.
Sony also showed new footage from previously announced PS4 games like the superhero adventure "InFamous: Second Son," the auto racing simulator "Drive Club" and the sci-fi shooter "Killzone: Shadow Fall."
Several third-party developers also debuted next-generation titles at Sony’s event. Bungie, the creator of the blockbuster Xbox series "Halo," showed the first in-game footage of its highly anticipated first-person shooter "Destiny." Warner Bros. showed a clip from a new "Mad Max" game, while Square-Enix announced the long-awaited "Kingdom Hearts III" and "Final Fantasy XV." Overall, Tretton said, more than 140 PS4 titles are in the pipeline.
That includes an assortment of games from smaller, independent developers, which Sony featured onstage next to giant publishers like Activision and Ubisoft. The processing chips in the PS4 are similar to those in PCs rather than the complex, idiosyncratic "Cell" architecture used in the PS3. That should make it easier for developers of all sizes to build games for Sony’s new console.
Like Microsoft, Sony is betting big on social networking features. The new version of its DualShock controller includes a "share" button that allows you to post gameplay footage and screenshots.
Friends can watch as you play a game, and you’ll even be able to let a pal take control of your game from afar if you can’t get past a tough battle. The controller also includes a touchpad and a Move motion sensor that works with a camera placed near the TV set.