By Neil Merrett
Playstation 4 owners found out that change may be coming this week, albeit for those with a sufficient enough bank balance to obtain a new version of the console that will reportedly soup up the existing hardware to better handle future releases on the system.
Sony is yet to officially confirm reports around the upgraded console plans, yet media speculation is rife.
Citing multiple sources, Giant Bomb claims the new system – codenamed ‘Neo’ – is expected to provide improved bandwidth on memory and a more powerful graphics processing unit (GPU). This roughly translates as being able to better handle the needs for Playstation VR and high definition graphics.
“The documents we’ve received note that the HDD in the NEO is the same as that in the original PlayStation 4, but it’s not clear if that means in terms of capacity or connection speed,” reported Austin Walker for Giant Bomb.
“Starting in October, every PS4 game is required to ship with both a ‘Base Mode’ which will run on the currently available PS4 and a ‘NEO Mode’ for use on the new console.”
Noting the seven year gap between the launches of the PS3 and the PS4, Techradar reported that despite the latter being the most powerful console available on the high street, its specs can already be outmatched by a capable gaming PC.
“ As tech advances at an increasingly rapid rate, Sony is reportedly eager to offer an enhanced version of the PlayStation 4 that will offer a bit more processing power and speed to enable even grander and better-looking experiences,” wrote Andrew Hayward.
“One reason is to support 4K Ultra HD resolution for gaming. While the PS4 can run 4K video footage, it’s not able to handle interactive games at that incredibly crisp resolution. Supposedly, the PlayStation 4.5 will be built to allow games to run at 4K – for people who have a 4K television, of course. That might be a small number now, but it’s growing steadily; and an upgraded PS4 might help sell Sony’s 4K sets.”
“It won’t play different games than the current PS4 does, it will just play them better,” wrote Gizmodo’s Alex Cranz, who suggests budget-minded owners using the existing console may be better served by putting a solid state drive (SSD) in their machines for better loading times and overall gameplay experiences.
From the other side of the game war trenches, Microsoft-focused Windows Central argued that Sony is pursuing a major risk by “breaking the sacred promise that is the console cycle” and offering an updated system mid-generation.
However, it noted that a successful launch could put Microsoft’s X-Box One under further commercial and technical pressures as a result of such a gamble by Sony.
“It seems like Sony is about to pull the trigger on more frequent hardware iterations for home gaming consoles,” writes Jez Corden.
He adds, ”There’s also the concern that Sony could set a precedent. If the PS4.5’s incremental, smartphone-like refresh is successful with consumers at large, then will we be seeing new consoles every three years? Every two years?Every year?
“Of course, the model is insanely successful for Apple, and standardized x86 architecture paves the way for that sort of system on consoles, on both the PlayStation and Xbox One sides (and possibly Nintendo’s NX too, to complete the Trinity).”
In years gone by, Sega and Nintendo have both considered upgrades and add-ons to some of their most popular consoles of the time. This largely resulted in failed efforts to capture public interest as much as entirely new systems.
Sony it seems may need to be careful not to risk the isolation and ire of the considerable fan base for the PS4.