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In the ever advancing entertainment market of recent history, three huge gaming giants are fighting to be top dog in terms of both sales and gameplay; they are Sony with the PlayStation, Nintendo Co., and Microsoft with the Xbox. Most recently, Sony have been scratching their heads at developing their latest console, PlayStation 4, following the somewhat tragic sales of PlayStation 3 after only 63.9 million were sold worldwide compared with 102.4 million for the original PS and a massive 155 million for the PS2.

So, what have they done to ensure record-breaking sales this time round? Well, it seems that cost has become the main concern given that the PS3 was on the shelf for a whopping £405 ($640) in 2006; admittedly a LOT more than its predecessors and its biggest rival at the time, the Nintendo Wii. Weighing up the figures, Sony have decided that they will release their new console for a fraction of that price at around £270 ($430). That buys you some pretty nifty new features such as high-performance graphics chips for an even further improved gaming experience, a touchpad controller and access to social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter so that people can share and play together. On the other hand, if you live in the UK you mustn't forget about VAT which adds an extra 20% on to that price taking it up to as much as £325. But don't worry, you've got plenty of time to save up as it won't be hitting the shelf over here until 2014! Japan and America get first dibs on the revolutionary priced console and, with it set to be first announced at a New York press conference on February 20th 2013, it looks like Christmas will be a super busy period for Sony.

Sony have also been a pretty formidable rival in terms of price for the particularly popular handheld units such as the Nintendo 3DS and the iPad. The Nintendo has been priced exceptionally reasonably with systems ranging from $169.99 to $199.99 according to their website (that's about £108 to £127) but the latest PSP-E1000 opened at an attractive $99 (about £63) in 2011; of course, we are yet to see the next PSP design hit headlines. As for the iPad, well, the PS4 will definitely win in that respect as if you fancy an iPad 2 you'll have to fork out £329 while its latest design, the iPad with Retina display, will set you back £399! But which is more in demand? Are people happy to spend hundreds on handheld gadgets with apps such as the famous Angry Birds and internet access or is it just because stationary units are generally a lot more expensive? 

Speaking of stationary units, rumours have recently surfaced about the Xbox 720 and its voice control feature and heightened Kinetic style sensors, all of which mean their entertainment system will be far more intelligent than the 360 models by switching of via voice communication or movement within a room. We already know that Microsoft love launching products at the ESA's E3 Expo, so there's good chance that they will give a full launch around that period. However, with Sony already beating the pack with the PS4 launch a good 4 months before the E3 Exop, it currently feels like Microsoft are on the backfoot.

E3 may also be announcing that the new Xbox 720 will require 24/7 internet connection to function with the new and improved Xbox Live being 'integral' for the new console according to sources speaking to Edge. You'll still be able to buy games in physical form, but they will apparently 'have no value beyond the initial user' suggesting second hand game sales will be stalled completely for the 720. However, Microsoft will neither confirm nor deny the existence of such a thing, a representative telling GameSpot, 'We do not comment on rumors or speculation. We are always thinking about what is next for our platform, but we don't have anything further to share at this time.' It wouldn't surprise us, though, if the PS4 went in a similar direction with online connection becoming increasingly relied upon by today's entertainment consumers.

The popularity of E3 in 2012 was somewhat muted in comparison to previous years, outside of the gaming community a lot of casual gamers were left underwhelmed by the games and products in general, however 2013 with a couple of new products like these on the market, this could well be the time to get things back on track. E3 takes place June 11-13, 2013, at the Los Angeles Convention Center.

So what games can we expect alongside the PS4? Well, that's unclear as of yet. Obviously such franchises as 'Call of Duty' and 'FIFA' will almost definitely be pushed into the next generation and the highly popular 'Grand Theft Auto' are due bring out 'Grand Theft Auto V' with a release date confirmed by their publisher Rockstar Games as September 17th 2013. But, while PS4 is due to be out by Christmas, you don't want to be throwing out your PS3 too soon as GTA designers haven't factored the new Sony release into their release. CEO of Take-Two Interactive Strauss Zelnick confirmed that it won't be a next generation idea saying to Gamasutra, 'There is not one gamer who is going to sit out of GTA V hoping that something that is going to come along down the road that's better. It's going to blow everyone away, and it's going to be in the market in September.'

What else can we expect from the PlayStation 4? Well, for all you tech-heads out there, it is said to be featuring a quad-core AMD APU Solution processor along with an AMD 8000 series GPU and between 2 and 4GB of GDDR5. It's also supposed to have a run-capability 50% greater than what the Xbox 720 is rumoured to include. However, until it's been announced and until Microsoft unzip their mouths and tell us what lies in store, there's really no way to be certain what the next-gen gaming experience will bring.