The video game console is a fairly static object, unlike the custom-built gaming PC. Sony is trying to change that as it introduces a steadily increasing amount of faceplates for the PlayStation 4 as part of their Project SkyLight Beta program. The goal is to customize the PlayStation 4 with designs ranging from game titles, abstract designs, or faceplates featuring the brands of PlayStation.
The video game console has very few changes to its physical appearance during its life cycle. The Nintendo DS featured the most change in recent memory with a total of 4 hardware revisions: Nintendo DS, DS Lite, DSi, and DSi XL. The original Xbox 360 launch console had a customization feature where you could remove the front faceplate and put an officially-licensed or third-party faceplate on the front, giving the console a more personal feel. Alert Penello, then marketing boss for Xbox, admitted to Kotaku that the faceplates were not a bad idea, but they were introduced late in reaction to a fad for mobile phones at the time. The faceplates were a financial flop for Microsoft, but Sony is hoping to succeed where Microsoft failed.
Sony launched Project SkyLight Beta with two faceplates for the PlayStation 4: LittleBigPlanet 3 and The Order: 1886. They sold at $24.99 a piece. The PlayStation Blog posted the next set would be arriving with faceplates featuring Bloodborne and a PS4 symbol faceplate, which you can find here.
A survey is also posted on the PlayStation Blog page asking gamers what kind of faceplate they would like to see in the future: first party game designs, classic game designs, PlayStation brand designs, or non-gaming designs such as sports, abstract, landscape, etc.
The odd feature of the faceplates is that they do not actually replace the "face" of the PlayStation 4. The section that is actually replaced is the side and would require the PS4 to be oriented in a vertical position with the drive facing one direction and the garish cables protruding out the other, diminishing the effect somewhat. Most people have laid their PlayStation 4 horizontally or with the disc drive facing out if standing vertically.
Whereas Microsoft mass produced a large quantity of plastic faceplates for the Xbox 360 that they could not move, Sony seems to be taking a more conservative approach by only producing a limited number of faceplates, thereby making them a limited commodity. If there is one thing gamers love to brag about, it is their limited edition collections. As of this writing, three of the four faceplates are sold out, leaving us to believe that Sony is on the right track despite the oddity of the faceplate's placing.
[Image Source | Sony]