In three days time we'll almost assuredly get some concrete details about the PlayStation 4. Perhaps what it looks like. Maybe how its controller(s?) work. How about launch games? Oh, and what is this thing actually going to be called? Will it be dubbed PlayStation 4? Or might Sony do a bit of rebranding and go with PlayStation Orbis or Thebes, two of its rumored handles? Perhaps something entirely different? There are a lot of questions, and very few answers.
If history is any indication, it'd almost be safe to assume that Sony would follow established conventions and go PlayStation 4. After all, it's a logical, easy-to-grasp iteration of the PlayStation name, and it'd leave no room for confusion as to what the device actually is.
But consider this: Sony's second handheld gaming device wasn't called the PSP 2--it was the PlayStation Vita. Why? Well, largely because calling the device a "PSP 2" would limit the scope of its functionality in the eyes of consumers. PSP was a handheld console that could also play movies and had weird proprietary UMD discs and one freaking analog stick. But the PS Vita was billed as a whole new machine, a mobile device that had everything and could do everything. You could browse the Web, play games, listen to music, watch movies, stream content, take pictures, Tweet to your followers, and check your Facebook.
So, why might Sony opt to call its new console anything other than the PS4? Well, it would certainly be within Sony's best interest to rebrand it as a machine that should be in every household, not just those of gamers. A PS4 plays games--but a PS Orbis? It plays movies, music, lets you browse the Internet and Tweet and Facebook from the comfort of your couch. Yes, you can do all of this with your PS3 already, but the PS4 name would put a spotlight on gaming functionality, not multimedia functionality. Plus, slight rebranding might help disassociate the next console from the PS3's mishaps--namely its shaky, expensive launch.
Then again, going with anything other than PS4 means Sony will run the risk of alienating some potential buyers. You'd have a pretty good idea of what someone was referring to if they mentioned "PlayStation 4." But what about if you overheard something to the effect of, "I just bought a PlayStation Orbis!" Would you know what that was in reference to if you hadn't been following next-gen news? Probably not. And we can't forget about the rather poor performance of the Wii U, thanks to Nintendo's failure to establish what, exactly, the device was in the eyes of consumers.
There are valid reasons for why Sony may or may not go with PS4. On the one hand, it would clearly establish the primary focus of the new console, and the iterative PlayStation brand has become a household name for many. On the other, going with Orbis/Thebes/whatever gives Sony a chance to rebrand its upcoming console for a broader audience.
What do you think? Will Sony go with PS4 or something entirely different, and why? Let us know in the comments below!