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PlayStation 4 Almost Came Without Hard Drive And Only 4 GB RAM

by Dean James

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Ever since the launch of the next console generation, there have been many discussion points brought up in the rivalry between Sony and Microsoft. One specific piece that was always discussed was the decision by Microsoft to package the Kinect with every Xbox One console, while the PlayStation 4 was available for $100 less without the PlayStation Camera included. We hadn’t heard much behind the scenes on Sony’s side until recently, but one very interesting tidbit was revealed by PlayStation 4 lead system architect Mark Cerny and SCEI president Andrew House at the Develop Conference.

The PlayStation 4 launched with a 500 GB internal hard drive and 8 GB of RAM installed, but Sony almost went another route entirely. At one point, Cerny says they thought about just going with flash memory instead of an internal HDD and only 4 GB of RAM. This would have easily been a major mistake, as one of the biggest selling points of the PlayStation 4 over the Xbox One was the 8 GB of RAM, which allows for developers to take things one step further at times.

Just adding a hard drive to the device was said to add over $1 billion to the project itself, which led to many a “sleeping nights” for House. He went into further detail by saying:

  • “It’s such a large decision, because it’s a commitment not just to the initial launch but for the life cycle. That has massive implications for how it will shape the business model for a number of years. Yes, we debated. But it became extremely clear to me that financial issues aside we had to be struggling for a certain level of experience that would get people to embrace a brand new platform.
  • “If we were going to fulfill our promises as a company, but if the industry as a whole was going to move on… we were starting to get a lot of nay-saying, ‘what’s the role of a console? Is there a role for a console?’ Those two things came together to point out what was needed for the transformative experience.”

Cerny also mentioned that moving from 4 GB of RAM to 8 GB also increased the cost of the project by a billion dollars, so they definitely went all out with the PlayStation 4. Originally, the PlayStation Camera was going to be included with the console, but after the decisions to include an internal HDD and 8 GB of RAM, they took it out to cut costs for both them and the consumer.

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