Sony designed the PS4 to be immediately distinguishable from the PS3 graphically.
When you reach the end of a console generation it's fairly easy, looking back on the years of games behind, to see just how far things have come. Sometimes, at the beginning of a new generation, however, that's not so much the case. With developers still getting the hang of new hardware it can take some time for studios to really start using new consoles to their full potential. Mark Cerny, lead architect behind the PS4, expects things to be pretty much the same with the newest iteration of the PlayStation.
According to Cerny, developers probably won't be taking full advantage of the PS4's hardware strength until "year three or year four of the console." That being the case, Cerny and Sony tried to design the PS4 in such a way that the power difference between it and its predecessor would be noticeable with a mere glance. "We set our target at 10 times the PlayStation 3's performance, because that's what we felt we needed to achieve in order to differentiate the titles," he said. "I knew that at some point, there'd be out on the sidewalk a PlayStation 3 and PlayStation 4, and they might even be showing the same game, and the PlayStation 4 had to be powerful enough that when people walked by, they had to look at the PlayStation 4 and say, 'Wow, I have to have that.'"
It would seem that Cerny and company did a good job. Sony has recently reported that more one million PS4's have been pre-ordered worldwide, a figure that Cerny is understandably proud of. "I believe we are at that level of performance," he said. "I mean, the million pre-orders we have is, I think, speaking to that."