This is beyond boom.

sony dogs

It sure feels like it.

This is it. We’ve waited nearly eight years for this, but it’s finally here. A brand spanking new PlayStation home console is set to be announced in more than 12 hours.

Think about that for a moment. The first new PlayStation to be announced in eight years. The world has changed in eight years. When PlayStation 3 was announced in May 2005, Twitter wasn’t born yet, Facebook was still taking baby steps as a Harvard-only site and when the closest thing to social games was flash games you’d play in school on the CRT computers at lunch (the closest game any of us got to play outside of Flash at school was Medal of Honor: Allied Assault multiplayer).

It was also a time when hardware cycles were around four-to-five years. For Sony, it undertook a ten-year lifecycle on PS One and PlayStation 2. It carried them out as planned (in fact, longer than expected – PSOne went for eleven years until 2006 and production on PlayStation 2 only halted last month), but half way through the cycle, Sony typically introduced new machines. This was no different. Just as it did with PS2 four years after releasing PS1 in Europe, PlayStation 3 was dropped at the midway stage of PS2’s ten-year cycle.

PS3 had a monkey on its back for a majority of its life following that infamous E3 presser (overpromised specs for things like four USB and two HDMI ports, videos of games that were claimed to be real-time but were actually CG) and the over inflated price (“the PlayStation 3 will retail for five hundred and ninety-nine US dollars”), to name a few.

It’s a stigma that Sony has, for the most part, managed to shake off, though. PSN, which was considered to be the weird cousin of the much prettier Xbox Live in the early part of its life, has now evolved into a decent service as of late thanks in a large part to PlayStation Plus (I’ve even considered cutting my ties from XBL to Plus for good when my Live sub expires at the end of the year), even if the Store is still a clusterfuck to use. Just don’t mention the 2011 hack, eh?

One of the other aspects PlayStation 2 lived on was down to a large chunk of its games tied down to exclusivity deals on the third-party side. It had Metal Gear Solid, Final Fantasy and Grand Theft Auto, the holy trinity of third-party then, locked tight to the console. For PlayStation 3, times changed. It had MGS4 as an exclusive, but Final Fantasy and GTA jumped the boat. And now MGS is set to join the multiplatform boat with Ground Zeroes (if you don’t including this week’s Rising).

But PS3’s exclusives, for my money, are the system’s golden ticket. Sony’s first-party exclusives are the best in the business with a massive array of great exclusives, including Uncharted, inFamous, Resistance, Ratchet & Clank and Journey, to name a few. But while there wasn’t as many third-party exclusives as there was in PS2 days, there was still Metal Gear Solid 4, Valkyria Chronicles and more recently – in the west at least – Ni no Kuni. One third-party who used the strengths of PS3 and its open platform was Valve, who integrated cross-platform co-op play between the PS3 and Steam versions of Portal 2.

So yes. The world has changed in eight years. If this cycle is a pointer, hardware cycles are getting longer, exclusivity is a relic of the past, social games have taken a life on its own across Facebook and iOS devices when social networking has now become such an integral part of our lives and when people are hailing this coming generation of consoles (PS4/Xbox 720/Wii U) as the last for consoles.

The one thing that hasn’t changed, however, is the enthusiasm of a new console and the excitement around it. And who better to kickstart the eight generation proper than with the pop culture brand that revolutionised gaming. Then we have other varying factors. What will it look like? What will be the first software shown on it? What other surprises are in store? How will Gaikai fit into it all? The possibilities of that controller? One thing is for sure, though. I have never seen such an anticipation around tonight’s event. Ever. Needless to say, tonight is not for the cynical, but for the passionate and enthusiastic.

It may not actually be once in a lifetime, but it sure feels like it.

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