Sony deliberately held back unveiling PlayStation 4 hardware earlier this week, it has been revealed. In an interview with Digital Spy, Sony UK managing director Fergal Gara said that the firm's priority was to show what the console can do, not what it looks like. "[It was a] deliberate choice to show what it can do, rather than a piece of plastic or a box. Assume we will have a sleek-looking piece of hardware, but showing that at this early stage wasn't the priority," he explained. "Showing what the gaming experience is going to be, what the possibilities are, and giving a sense of how this machine could perform and deliver great gaming experiences for gamers - that was, by far, the priority rather than what shape is the box." The confirmation comes after Sony Japan president Hiroshi Kawano admitted that he has yet to see the console's final design. The firm is also uncertain whether the console will be available in Europe this year. A big part of the conference was that Sony had talked to publishers about what they wanted from the console. I was wondering whether users and consumers' feedback was looked into as well. "Yep, user testing has formed a fair part of the route to where we are now. For example, the controller, it was obviously tested on real consumers before finalising the design, so that feedback has been there, and we had a rich stream of feedback about the PS3 and what could be better about PS3. "You're right to say that wasn't emphasised [on February 20], but it is there." What particular things did consumers want from PS4? "I wasn't quite involved in that level of detail, so I'm not the best guy to comment on it, but I do know what went on. You've seen a new feature set there, the social integration, that possibly came out of that route, I'm not certain. "But that for me was making the PlayStation experience very relevant for today's lifestyle. And that's a big change, since the days when the PS3 was conceived, and not many people were talking about Facebook there, it wasn't there." With those social and streaming features, how important is that for Europe in particular? "I think it's vital. Just look at our core consumer and what they're doing with their life, and Facebook memberships are scarily high. I see it on two levels. "There's a bit of - right, that's what we do with our life and use it as a communication tool and we keep in touch with all our friends and we can, for example, capture photos or what we're doing and thoughts, all that kind of stuff. "The gaming life, for want of a better term, has lived off in its own secluded bubble. So there is a community going on there, but it's never had an easy route into, say, the Facebook world which captures everything. "I think it's a really nice touch, but I pick that out as one of the social features we've got. "The other ones that I think are at least equally powerful that we touched upon were things like the 'assist a friend' type feature, such as the ability to deliver content to people of stuff you might like. I think personalisation is part of that, as well as social. It means that I can make it really easy for you to explore a game that I just bought and I can let you into play, even if you haven't got the game. "I think that social feature is very much gamer-focused, and is delivering great value for them. They can get a taste of the experience, they can get some of the experience very easily, very cheaply. "It's a great awareness builder, isn't it? Whenever one of us buy anything, who's view do you trust the most? If it's someone who you personally trust, their recommendation is worth more, I think, than any other route. So I think that was one of the nice touches coming through." I thought one of the good points from the event was, 'you try it first and then buy it if you like it'. A case of consumers trusting their own instincts, and [Sony] is letting you do that. "Yeah, I think that's a really, really gamer-focused move to open up a bit, invite them and let them have a go." Will all those social features and streaming aspects, such as Gaikai, be available from day one? "Exactly what is in the box on day one I'm not sure has accurately been pinned down, and we're certainly not able to map out accurately today what you can expect from PS4, much like PS3 is you'll get a great experience on day one but it'll continue to evolve." Another aspect I wasn't sure about was when it came to streaming PS4 games to Vita, is that for all games or developer implemented? "The intention is that the vast majority of PS4 games will be playable on PlayStation Vita. I'm not the best guy to ask how easy that is, but my understanding is that it's pretty damn easy. "Maybe some games where it's a little awkward to execute on PlayStation Vita, but that'll more be because of additional controls, say for camera functionality on PS4 that might transfer across neatly. "But my understanding is, if you're using the standard controls of the analogue sticks and buttons, etc, then that'll transfer across very neatly and very easily. "And for me, from what I took out that whole message was, we used to say PlayStation Vita is a PS3 in your pocket, well now we can very confidently say it's a PS4 in your pocket. So that is a great, great, great boost for PlayStation Vita." And it's the case that this PS4 to Vita streaming is in the home only and not on-the-go, right? "It's Wifi connectivity which is what you need. I'm sure there might be a little devil in the detail about how strong is the Wifi connection, and is there a point at which the experience becomes less powerful. "It is a fact that in many homes the gaming console sits underneath the TV in the family living room. So many mum and dads aren't gaming, but the kids are. "They maybe get an hour or so a day between homework and parents' time when they can get a crack at the TV and the console, then they get thrown off it. But that doesn't have to be the way anymore. "So you might be thrown out the living room or mum and dad want to watch whatever, but you don't have to stop playing with a Vita and PS4, of course, and you can continue largely the same experience and quality experience in the bedroom, the kitchen or whatever. I think there are some powerful touches in there." I believe the announced camera accessory is packaged with every PS4, is that correct? "I don't think we've pinned that down as yet, exactly what product configurations there will be. More details will be revealed over a few levels in the next few months." It was said that PS3 games won't have native backwards compatibility. But what about hardware, such as controllers? "You're absolutely right in terms of the backwards compatibility that is frankly just not possible to deliver because the whole architecture of the two machines is so different. "You heard a bit about the Gaikai route and how that will help bring PS3 games to PS4 in the future. So that will develop and add a lot to the picture. Well, not just PS3 games, actually, even PS2 and PS1 games, so that's going to help bridge the gap as far as... sorry, what was the other part you mentioned?" Whether, say, DualShock 3 would work on PS4. "DualShock 3 will not work with PS4. What other peripherals will, we will flesh that out." I assume Move will? "Well, it was demonstrated [on February 20], so yes, that's safe to assume." Will PS4 be region-locked? "Don't know, and I don't know if that's been decided or pinned down." You can't talk any specifics on price, but can you say whether it will be similar to the PS3's launch price? "What I'll say on price is we will do our very, very best to get a machine out there that is the best possible value we can in terms of price point and experience that we're offering. "No decisions have been made yet, there are still quite a few variables to work through, like any sensible business would, which is what does it cost us to make it, what volume can we get through factories, what dates are we trying to hit, etc etc etc, what the full business model is looking like. "It isn't decided, it's not even just a desire to be cagey at this stage, we're not at that final stage. But of course we're aiming to offer gamers an experience at the best possible value price." Are you willing to take a loss on the hardware? "That's not for me to comment on. Clearly, there's a roadmap here of, like all other PlayStation devices, we expect it to have a multi-year and many-year life cycle. There's detailed planning in terms of where do you make, where do you lose, so whether that means a loss at launch I don't know." Historically PlayStation consoles have had a ten-year life cycle. Is that something you're aiming for with PS4 as well? "It'll definitely be a long life cycle and we're planning for the future and the sheer scale of the technology announced certainly shows that it should last many years. "Ten years, yeah, it's a number that's picked out but I think it's interesting to see the PS2 is just being put to bed now, and that's a lot more than ten years. "PS3 will continue for some period, and will have an excellent year this year, especially software-wise, it's incredibly well-positioned that stuff that's announced already and more to come as well. "We'll keep them all going as long as they are viable. But my own gut feel? The life cycles maybe won't be quite as long in the future as they have been in the past, but they still won't be short. "I think we're a very, very long way off ever contemplating a one year life cycle on this kind of device." You can't talk specifics on a date, but it's been said 2013. Does that apply to Europe? "We will launch it this year. Exactly what regions, what timing, is being worked through. Which regions in 2013 - is it all of them, is it some of them? Is there some degree of phasing? We'll reveal that in more detail later but we can't yet." So it's a case that one region will get the PS4 this year? "At least. It will launch this year, but the precise details as I say for exact dates, exact regions, is it all or some of them? We don't know." PlayStation 4 will be available in at least one region later this year.