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Sony to unveil PlayStation 4 this month

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Rumors about the PlayStation 4 have been floating around for over a year now, but on February 20, we'll finally get a glimpse at the real thing. That's the day Sony will hold an event in New York where it reportedly plans to unveil its long-awaited next-generation console.

The company got the hype machine rolling Thursday evening with a mysterious teaser video. To amp things up further, the company posted a Twitter update reading simply "see the future." Within minutes, news outlets, including the Wall Street Journal, confirmed through sources that this would, in fact, be the company's launch party for the PS4.

The announcement will give Sony a head start over Microsoft, who is expected to reveal its next Xbox in the coming months. Both systems should be available at retail by the end of the year.

So what can we expect from the PS4? According to the WSJ, Sony plans to focus less on massive hardware improvements and more on integrating social gaming aspects into the new machine. User interaction will be a key component.

If you're hoping to be able to play your PS3 games on the new machine, you might want to temper those expectations. The chipset and graphics chip on the new PlayStation are reportedly made by different companies than those that power the PS3, making backward compatibility a less likely feature.

Gamers aren't the only ones ready for new consoles -- publishers are gearing up for the generational shift as well. Earlier this week, Electronic Arts CEO John Riccitiello said the company is investing $80 million dollars in software development for "gen 4" consoles. And, by the sound of things, he's not including the Wii U in that definition.

"We see a pretty sharp distinction, and unfortunately I'm unable to go any further than that," he said on an earnings conference call.

While a lot of hope is riding on the next generation of consoles, things haven't gotten off to a stellar start. Nintendo lowered its fiscal sales forecast for the Wii U from 5.5 million to 4 million consoles this week.

"The sales of Wii U were smooth at the beginning, but since the turn of the year they have been losing momentum," said Nintendo President Satoru Iwata.

Sony, of course, is hoping the momentum it plans to start building with this month's event will help the PlayStation 4 avoid that fate.

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