The rumours of New 4K-Capable PS4 gaming console originates back in early 2015 when Netflix had predicted that the new versions of the PS4 will support 4K UHD (Ultra High Definition) media playback. At the time, they predicted that the upgrade was only expected to support 4K video streaming only, with no chance of 4K gaming capabilities. It was also reported that Netflix is expecting gaming consoles to take a leading role in 4K adoption. In an interview at last year’s CES, Netflix CEO Neil Hunt alluded to a “promise” by Sony that they would be upgrading their flagship gaming console to have the power to stream 4K video content. A 4K ultra high-definition TV picture is 3,840 x 2,160 pixels, more than 8 million pixels in total, which is four times the number in a ‘normal’ high-definition screen of 1,920 x 1,080 pixels, a feat that the current hardware of the PS4 cannot handle.
However, it might now appear that Netflix may have been making these prediction based on what might have been outdated information. Recent reports from popular gaming sites Kotaku and Eurogamer report to a PS4K or PS4.5 that could bring further enhancements than just the 4K media playback that Netflix predicted. The Kotaku report seems slightly more far-fetched and reports that the upgraded console
“Will include an upgraded GPU both to support high-end 4K resolution for games and add more processing power that can enhance the games supported by PlayStation VR”
The Eurogamer report on the other hand seems to have a bit more detailed knowledge on the PS4K/PS4.5 but is more reluctant to say that significant GPU/CPU gains will come with it. The report states:
“We have independently established that it’s real and that Sony’s R&D labs have prototype devices, and we also have more than one source referring to it as PlayStation 4K”
“While more GPU power is being offered to developers, realistically it is nowhere near enough to provide native 4K gaming at the same quality level as current 1080p titles. The full extent of the spec is a current focus of enquiry for us, but realistically, it is simply impossible to cram the equivalent of today’s top-end PC graphics hardware into a console-sized, mass-market box.”
This falls in line with the current 4K capable technology in the market now which, in it’s current state, would be seriously difficult to fit into a closed-system console and still running efficiently. Because of this, many have predicted that 4K gaming is years away for console owners.
However, while full 4K gaming may be out of the picture, that doesn’t rule out more marginal GPU performance gains that could be powering the PS4K. Eurogamer further reports that Sony may be contemplating three options. Firstly, a “new, more powerful Playstation” may be in the works with significant GPU improvements over the current PS4 model. Secondly, an evolved Playstation 4 whereby we’d see a new PlayStation playing host to the same titles as the current one, but with visual improvements. Lastly, they predict a “playstation plus” model which is the least radical change of the three and would focus more on cost and efficiency, similar to slim models we’ve already seen in past generations.
Since the revelation of the validity behind the reports of a PS4.5/PS4K, the internet has erupted in debate over the controversy of the implications of what this could mean. Many PS4 fans have been splintered over the announcement with some being fine or even favouring hardware improvements despite the fact that the PS4 has only been out since 2013 and the fact some may feel ‘cheated’ by Sony offering a better console mid-generation in what essentially is pereceived as a slap in the face to loyal customers who bought the console already. Essentially, this comes down to an inferiority complex that has plagued the console industry, especially so this generation. So much time is spent focusing on pixels and frames this generation that the whole thing has turned rather bitter. Thus, a PS4K capable of running games better than the current model of the PS4 would leave current owners angry that their purchase can no longer run the best console games.
However, this could also cause a controversy with developers as it could fracture game development, especially for smaller studios. One of the reasons that consoles are so successful is that consoles are fixed platforms that developers can consistently target, and which everyone knows the parameters and the details of the hardware specifications. That means a developer can make a game for the PS4 and not worry about tweaking things for a different model because a PS4 is a PS4 and the hardware is static. This greatly benefits smaller studios who have to sometimes focus on one singular platform to ensure that they can get their game out within their budget limitations. However, with multiple iterations of a PS4, smaller developers would find themselves hard pressed as to which model they’ll focus their development resources on. In short, it could see games come to one model and not the other, at least not side-by-side.
Overall, it seems that the uncertainty as to exactly what improvements a PS4K will bring is definitely worth the controversy it is getting at the moment. The general consensus is that many would be fine with improvements such as 4K media playback but GPU improvements is where things get a little more foggy. How would you feel about a PS4K bringing graphical improvements? Let us know your thoughts and opinions below.