Boy oh boy it was only a matter of time before we got full details of the PS4K and that day has arrived. Rumblings have been heard about upgraded versions of both consoles for a little while now, but in recent weeks it’s the upgraded PS4, which we now know to be codenamed PS4 ‘Neo’ (Yes, someone at Sony clearly loves The Matrix) that has been the more prominent of the two rumours. Thanks to reports from Kotaku, The Wall Street Journal, Eurogamer and now GiantBomb, it seems that the PS4 ‘Neo’ is definitely real and dev kits are being sent to developers as we speak. That means that 2016 may see upgraded hardware from Sony, a new console from Nintendo and Microsoft may be left in the cold without some version of a more powerful console. This begs the question then whether they should follow suit or not.
And this isn’t just some minor upgrade either; it appears that the PS4 Neo will actually be powerful enough for resolutions of upwards of 2k natively and even 4k with upscaling technology. Thanks to EuroGamer the exact specs of the machine became widely known. The report says the PS4.5 will use the same CPU as the PS4, but each of its eight Jaguar cores will be clocked to 2.1GHz instead of 1.6GHz – a boost of 1.3. At the same time, the memory will go up from 8GB GDDR5 at 176GB/sec to the same amount of memory at a faster 218GB/sec – enough for a 24% increase in bandwidth.
This is a poweful enough machine to power games at a 1080p minimum for every single game on the system (This is what Sony were talking about when they said ‘greatness awaits’… right?) With the competition’s Xbox One machine already the machine known to struggle with hitting this 1080p native resolution as often as the base PS4, it seems that the Xbox One would find itself even further behind, and by quite a large deal, by the time that the PS4K/Neo hits the market. Even more interestingly, even games previously released can be patched with a ‘Neo’ mode before October of this year to take advantage of the PS4 Neo’s extra power, something that would make already ‘superior’ PS4 ports even better.
So why has Sony done this? This is a question many seem to be asking themselves. After all, the PS4 is the dominant console on the market with sales at roughly 2:1 between the next closest competitor. Well, there are rumours this may be Sony’s UHD 4k blu-ray machine but recent reports suggest thta the machine might not ship with an UHD 4k blu-ray drive. Therefore, my theory is that Sony wants to extend this generation and squeeze as much out of it as possible since the PS4 is doing so well. We all knew coming into this generation that we couldn’t have a repeat of the unusually long console generation of the PS3/Xbox 360 and perhaps this is Sony’s way of getting as much longevity out of this generation as possible since they’re in such a good position compared to where they were with the PS3 only a couple of years ago.
Despite their intentions, there’s no doubt that this decision has ruffled some feathers. For instance, a known PlayStation fan ‘Colin Moriarty’ took to Twitter to blast the news of an upgraded PS4 claiming that it is pissing off developers.
A trusted source tells me most developers are not happy with PS4.5, and having to develop around it. Extra cost, planning, other nonsense.
— Colin Moriarty (@notaxation) 19 April 2016
However, Colin also goes on to admit that he would in fact buy the machine, effectively rendering his arguments void since Sony is very well expecting to make big bucks selling this to their hardcore fans, while leaving the original PS4 on the market as a cheaper entry for the more casual gamers.
It’s not just developers who seem angry with the upgraded PS4. A PlayStation oriented site ‘Playstation Lifestyle’ published a piece entitled ‘Top 5 Reasons Why We Don’t Want PS4K’ that seemed to make the rounds. The artcile touches upon many of the fears that consumers have over the upgraded version of the PS4, such as the price point with a new console and PSVR launching later this year and fears of what this means for the PS5, amongst others.
With all the uncertainty surrounding an upgraded PS4, it might now be smart for Microsoft to keep quiet and see how things play out. With a console as powerful as the PS4 Neo, it stand to reason that Microsoft might even release the next Xbox as soon as 2017/2018. See, the ‘Xbox One’ has had a perception problem since before these new consoles even hit the market and it’s a dark cloud that’s been lingering over the Xbox One since its launch, clouding even the best of news in an air of negativity. Since the Xbox One is already inferior in hardware to the PS4, it will be even further behind to the PS4 Neo, which could further worsen the perception of the Xbox One as an inferior machine. On the other hand, an upgraded Xbox One now would inadvertently extend the Xbox One’s life span, something that Microsoft surely don’t want since they need to clean the slate and bring in a new machine, based on Phil Spencer’s vision as soon as possible, not put the Xbox One on life support.
In closing, Microsoft might be making the smart move by allowing Sony to take the first step with the PS4 Neo because it clearly has a lot of fans and developers pissed off and Microsoft could make their plans based on the reception the Neo receives. While it may hurt the performance of 3rd party games in the short run, Microsoft needs a completely new box, not an upgraded Xbox One, to make the Xbox brand great again. An upgraded Xbox One will only really work if its even more powerful than the PS4 Neo, but even that machine looks very beefy for a rumoured $400 machine.
Do you think Microsoft is making the smart move by allowing Sony to take the first step in the upgraded console space with the Neo? Let us know how you feel by leaving a comment below.