Sony officially announced its next video game console along with a few details last night.  Here's what you need to know:


For the last few weeks on their websites and social media pages, Sony has been teasing a major PlayStation-related announcement to come February 20th, 2013.  Speculation immediately began that Sony was ready to, for the first time, announce the development of the next in the PlayStation family lineage...  PlayStation 4.


The speculation was true.  At 5:00 PM Central Time, in a press conference in New York City, Sony waged a "war against reality," and announced the production of the most advanced video gaming console of all time...  PlayStation 4.


Many of the PlayStation 4's most elementary details still remain under wraps, like how much the console will cost and an official release date...  Although Sony did say they want their machine to be available this holiday season.  Here are some things we DO know, though.


Despite having been critically praised of having the most comfortable and intuitive controller in all of video games, Sony's Dual Shock 4 will be overhauled compared to the previous controllers.  The basic functions will become better; The rumble will be stronger, latency will be lower, and the joysticks will be enhanced.  It will surely contain the Dual Shock 3's gyroscope and level, and will also introduce a new "light bar" which will be used with the system's camera functionality (think PlayStation Move).  The controller will also now sport a touch pad and headphone jack, not unlike Nintendo's new Wii U Gamepad.  A speaker seems visible from the pictures I've seen, and I would presume a microphone would be built in as well.


Also borrowing from Nintendo is future plans for cross play ability between the PlayStation 4 and Sony's somewhat floundering PlayStation Vita portable handheld system.  The effect will be very similar to that of Nintendo's flashy Gamepad controller packed into the Wii U, allowing gamers to forfeit, er, "share" the TV with other people in the room.


PlayStation 4 is also planning to be extraordinarily social-active.  Their "start" and "select" buttons, which have been standards on EVERY video game controller since 1985's Nintendo Entertainment System, are now being renamed "options" and "share."  "Options" is arguably a more accurate description of what "start" has been doing for the past 28 years, and "share" is in reference to users' social media accounts.  Did you just defeat the final boss in your favorite game?  Why not share a photo of your accomplishment with your friends on Facebook?  Did you topple an incredibly high score?  Tweet a picture with the push of a button! Or, like me, did you just lose a game in comical grand fashion, share a video on YouTube so the entire WORLD can make fun of you!!


The "share" feature goes deeper than that, though.  Sony will make it possible to livestream your game to PlayStation Network friends so they can watch you while you play, cheer and root for you...  Or jeer and call you racially insensitive insults, whichever your friends would do.  But it doesn't stop there.  PlayStation 4 would even allow your friends across the world actually PICK UP AND PLAY YOUR GAME FOR YOU remotely from their own living room... Possibly getting you past those tough to beat areas!  (Or, they could sabotage you and waste all of your lives...  If you can't tell, my friends are as---les!)


Sony is expected to share more details at the Electronic Entertainment Expo better known as E3 over the summer.  No images of the hardware outside of the controller have been released at this time.