As you might have heard, Sony is (most likely) officially announcing the next PlayStation tomorrow. This isn't the first console reveal Sony has done though. Let's think back to those times. What information was Sony willing to part with during its very first reveals for its other big consoles? It might give us some insight into what we first details we might learn about the PS4.
Of course, Kotaku will be covering tomorrow's event. But for now, let's do some guesswork.
The PS3 Reveal (E3 2005)
The first big announcement, the unveiling of the PS3, happened at E3 2005. Let's take a look at what went on there.
What They Revealed
Specs Lots of hard data was shown concerning the console's technical specifications — CPU, memory, networking capabilites, display output, actual physical dimensions, ports, compatibility with various media, etc. Included were explanations of the technologies involved in actually putting the graphics on the TV screen. Special attention was given to the new Nvidia GPU and the Blu-ray player. The PS3's online capabilities — the introduction of the PlayStation Network, an online service dedicated wholly to the PS3, which would be supported by every game, and other services such as personal homepages and media streaming — were also described in some detail.
Backwards Compatibility The fact that the console would play both PS2 and PS games was revealed.
Media Centre Capabilites The PS3's ability to stream and to play HD movies was demonstrated.
Demonstrations These made up the bulk of the presentation. The demos showed off the technical capabilities of the new console.
Trailers A staggering amount of trailers at that. Games from a wide variety of genres were represented, among them Final Fantasy XII, Devil May Cry 4, Motorstorm, Killzone 2 and Heavenly Sword.
Release Date While Sony did announce a window for the PS3's release, the console's actual release was eventually delayed anyway — from Q2 2006 to Q4 2006.
Concepts The event was capped off by a batch of concept images of the console, which included the god-awful banana controller that was ultimately abandoned in favour of the SixAxis Wireless Controller.
What They Didn't Reveal
Actual Gameplay The closest thing would be a tech demo controlled on-stage via the EyeToy, but other than that, nothing.
The Price The big reveal of the console's price was left to next year. Rather infamously.
The PS2 Reveal (TGS 1999)
Of course you can't draw proper conclusions from just one event. So let's have a look at what happened in 1999, at the Tokyo Game Show, where Sony first unveiled the PlayStation 2. Details get a bit more sparse at this point, seeing it's the last millennium, but there are still several points to glean.
What They Revealed
Specs The brand new Emotion Engine chip, which powered the console, was unveiled and the console's internet capabilities were discussed — specifically online multiplayer, available in only a few choice games, via the separately available Network adaptor.
Backwards Compatibility Sony announced that its new console would play games from the PS1. At the time, this was a brand new concept.
Media Centre Capabilities Sony spoke about the console's ability to play both music CDs and DVD movies.
Demonstrations / Actual Gameplay Several PS2 titles were showcased as playable demos, among them Dark Cloud, Gran Turismo 2000 and Tekken Tag Tournament.
Release Date Sony advertised March 4, 2000, as the Japanese release date for the PS2, which it met successfully — however, due to manufacturing delays, store inventories were inadequate.
The Console The hardware itself was put on display, and people could try out the new DualShock 2 controller.
Price The actual price was revealed then and there — although in yen only: ¥39,800.
What They Didn't Reveal
The Western Price/Release Date Neither were mentioned at the TGS. The PS2 eventually landed in North America on October 26, 2000, at a price of $US299.
The PS1 Reveal (May, 1994)
Now, there's the matter of the first PlayStation's reveal. The pre-release announcements Sony made, which seem to have been sent to the press for the official reveal, mostly concern the console's technical specs. In fact, these announcements only started popping up about half a year before the console's Japanese release, around May 1994.
What They Revealed
Specs The technical specs of the PS1 were described, going into details about the CPU, and the fact that there are separate chips for video and audio (a big thing at the time!) was revealed. These were accompanied by claims of photorealism and a processing power of 500 million instructions per second.
Price Vague hints were dropped about the price, mentioning that it would be "under ¥50,000".
Release Date Sony also hinted at the release date; something about the console arriving in Japan that year. It did, on December 3.
Games 23 games had been in development for the console's launch, and it was promised that at least 10 would hit their deadline. For the Japan launch, Sony managed eight — Ridge Racer among them. For the US launch almost a year later, it had 11 — for example, Rayman and Air Combat.
What It Didn't Reveal
The Western Price/Release Date Eventually, the PlayStation launched on September 9, 1995, and it was sold for $US299.
Games While Sony talked about how many games there would be, it didn't name any of them. It didn't show them off either. No footage, no trailers, nada. But then again it was 1994.
The PS4 Reveal (?)
Alright then, let's get down to business. What is Sony gonna say about the PS4 (or, if you're superstitious, the Orbis)?
What It Might Reveal
Specs Judging by its past reveals, Sony is practically guaranteed to talk about the inner workings of the PS4. It might choose to demonstrate the console's power by running a few simulations as well.
Hardware Something about the console itself — and the controller — will most likely be said. They might even straight up show us what the final product looks like — hell, even unveil an actual console.
Games The PS4's launch titles might be announced, and shown off via trailers, or even demos if we're lucky.
Backwards Compatibility This will probably be mentioned, if it's an included feature. Both the PS3 and the PS2 announcements talked about backwards compatibility at some length.
Media Centre Capabilites Before Sony moves on to the games, it might talk about how the PS4 will work as a media centre.
What It Might Not Reveal
Release Date Or it may be revealed only for it to turn out to be wrong later. Let's admit it — Sony isn't good at giving specific release dates. It will likely aim to release in time for the Christmas holidays, but it could very well pull a "some time this year" move, or even give a season or a month timeframe.
Price This one's hard to tell. Sony might still be undecided, or it might choose not to say anything.
Of course, don't forget to take what Sony says with a grain of salt. As we've seen above, it can't always deliver on its promises, and sometimes, it even changes its mind and decides to do something else entirely. So, with that in mind, while you wait, discuss your own theories below.