(Photo credit: AP)There have been plenty of leaks, whispers and rumors about the next Xbox for a few months now, but there hasn't been a lot of talk about Sony's plans for the next generation.
Kotaku, though, claims to have uncovered some inside information about the system that, on the surface, makes it sound like the next generation console race is going to be a tight one -- and begin next year.
Citing a single anonymous source, Kotaku says it believes the code name for the next PlayStation is "Orbis." And while the next console from Sony is widely expected to be called PlayStation 4 when it hits shelves, the site infers that Orbis might be the system's final name.
Whatever it's called, Kotaku says we can expect to see it released in the holiday period of 2013 -- the same timeframe most expect the next Xbox to arrive. If so, that would eliminate the one year head start Microsoft enjoyed with the Xbox 360, a year that gave it a lead over Sony that thus far has proven insurmountable.
Much like the rumored next Xbox system (codenamed Durango), the new Sony system will lock games to a PSN account, which could impact the used game market.
"If you then decide to trade that disc in, the pre-owned customer picking it up will be limited in what they can do," the site said. "While our sources were unclear on how exactly the pre-owned customer side of things would work, it's believed used games will be limited to a trial mode or some other form of content restriction, with consumers having to pay a fee to unlock/register the full game."
If true, that's likely to upset a notable segment of the gaming population, not to mention have a serious impact on retailers like GameStop who make a tidy profit on the used game market. And Sony could ruffle even more feathers if the system ditches backward compatibility with the PlayStation 3, as Kotaku says it will.
In terms of hard specs, Kotaku says the system will use either AMD's x64 CPU or perhaps AMD's Southern Islands GPU, the company's high-end chip. Graphics-wise, Orbis is said to be capable of resolutions up to 4096x2160, commonly called '4K' in TV manufacturer parlance (and one of the technological boosts shown off at this year's CES). It's also said to be able to play 3D games in full 1080p, a leap over the PS3's max 3D resolution of 720.
It's critical to note that these are unconfirmed reports based on a single source, so it's wise to be skeptical. Developers Yahoo! Games has spoken with are unable to confirm anything in Kotaku's report, and note they haven't been contacted yet by Sony to discuss the new system (though they say they have spoken with Microsoft).
Don't expect Sony to officially start talking about the PS4 or Orbis anytime soon, either. In January Sony's Kaz Hirai stated clearly that the company would not announce any new home systems at E3.