Sony unveils PlayStation 4

Andrew House, president and Group CEO of Sony Computer Entertainment, speaks during the unveiling...

Andrew House, president and Group CEO of Sony Computer Entertainment, speaks during the unveiling of the PlayStation 4 launch event in New York, Feb. 20, 2013. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

Steve Tilley, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 3:30 PM ET

NEW YORK -- It's officially game on for the PlayStation 4.

At a Wednesday evening event in New York City, Sony ended months of speculation and took the wraps off the company's next-generation video game console, revealing a powerful and versatile machine that Sony says will introduce a slew of innovative features yet be a simpler and more intuitive experience for gamers.

The Japanese electronics giant hopes the PlayStation 4, due in stores this holiday season, will build on the success of the PlayStation 3, which launched in late 2006 and has gone on to sell more than 77 million units worldwide. No price was announced for the PlayStation 4, and the physical design of the console itself wasn't shown; it's expected these details will be revealed at June's E3 Expo in Los Angeles.

While the packed event at a converted Manhattan opera house revealed much about the PS4's new socially focused features, hard specs were thin on the ground. A handful of games in the works for the PS4 were demonstrated, including the futuristic first-person shooter Killzone: Shadow Fall, boasting unprecedented level of detail in its sci-fi game world. Also among the more than dozen games previewed was a PS4 version of Diablo III, a new look at Ubisoft Montreal's hi-tech action-adventure game Watch Dogs and Destiny, the new franchise coming from Bungie, makers of the Xbox-exclusive Halo series.

Also getting its coming-out party was the DualShock 4 game controller, which bears a similar shape to the PlayStation 3 controller but includes a touchpad, a button that allows easy sharing of content such as live game footage and replays, and a light bar that will interact with a new dual-lens PlayStation camera for advanced motion-sensing functions.

A revamped version of the online features available to PlayStation gamers will debut with the PS4, which Sony says will track what types of games specific players are interested in and tailor the experience to their likes, including downloading games in advance that players are deemed to want to buy.

One contentious issue among some gamers and retailers is the suggestion that the new consoles from both Sony and Microsoft will not allow gamers to play used or borrowed games. Sony didn't address whether PS4 will be compatible with used games.

But there is bad news for gamers with a huge library of PlayStation 3 games: the PlayStation 4 will not play PS3 game discs. Sony says its new PlayStation Cloud streaming service will, as it's rolled out in phases over time, allow gamers to play earlier PlayStation games on a variety of devices, from the PS4 to tablets and smartphones.

With Nintendo's Wii U console making its debut last November, all eyes are now on Microsoft and the company's next-generation successor to the Xbox 360, also expected to make its first appearance in the coming months, possibly for a holiday season release.

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