On Jailbreaking Sony's PlayStation 4 (PS4)

Posted by Trent Nouveau

Sony's long-awaited PlayStation 4 (PS4) has yet to hit the streets, yet there are those who are already contemplating jailbreaking the next-gen console. And yes, one of them is even a prominent industry analyst.

"I wonder if you’ll be able to jailbreak [an AMD-powered] PS4 and run Windows on it? Or even cooler, run Sony’s Linux OS in a partition and have a dual boot system," John Peddie of JPR speculated in a recent industry note.

"It’s sure to have USB ports so you could hang a keyboard and mouse, or maybe via WiFi—which means it could run PC (Windows) games, which means it qualifies as a PC gaming machine, which means, it’ll run Steam and Origin games. And with a WiFi connection it’s also a smart TV."

However, Peddie also emphasized that both Sony and AMD had undoubtedly thought of the jailbreaking option - and it remained unclear what the industry heavyweights had ultimately decided.

"If it can be jail-broken, that will be one distinguishing feature between PS4 and Windows games," Peddie opined.

"What would be the downside for Sony if the PS4 could be jail-broken? For one thing it may be perceived as just another low-cost PC. That of course would be a mischaracterization, but it’s definitely going to be suggested by someone."

Either way, says Peddie, if Sony plans to sell 16 million PS4s in 2013, or within a year of its release, the Japanese-based corporation must price the console aggressively and use clever marketing techniques.

"Sony took its time bringing out the PS4, and although the architecture is impressive, it’s not novel; it’s basically a PC with some high-speed memory and a powerful APU. So they had time to think and plan for how they would market the new system," Peddie explained.

"[One] console differentiating feature will be the gesture sensing capability. The SDK for that will not embrace any Windows apps. [Plus], Sony recently acquired Gaikai, which claimed to quickly download and run PC games. Use of Gaikai will now be restricted to delivering games for the Sony network, which make perfect sense, so another differentiation will be that no PC will quickly download and run games."

And last, but certainly not least, Peddie also discussed the PS4's boot up and execution game run time.

"No doubt AMD has crafted some of their fast-boot technology into the BIOS so the machine will come on like an appliance and not some ancient tape-loading minicomputer. But what about execution or app load time?"

"As much as we love PC games, you can go open a bottle of wine and pour a glass before you get to the main menu, which is just another delay. Not so, or not quite as bad in a console. So I expect games written for the PS4, running in Sony’s OS, will load and execute quickly—no, or at least limited, postponed gratification," he added.