Oh boy, I can’t keep up anymore. Between Xbox exclusives on the PC, VR headsets, cross platform multiplayer, and NX rumors, video game news has been at an all time high over these past couple of weeks. The latest rumor, although I hesitate to even call it a rumor now, comes from former Giantbomb now Kotaku writer Patrick Klepek regarding an upgraded Sony’s PlayStation 4 console. According to Klepek Sony is planning on releasing an upgraded PlayStation 4 console with a stronger GPU and CPU in order to enable 4k resolution for PlayStation 4 games and add more processing power for PlayStation VR. This has now been confirmed from multiple journalists now from multiple trusted sources.
Does this make sense? Yes.
Still not even three years old the PlayStation 4 has already began to lag considerably behind modern high end computers. Since the launch of the console, games have struggled keep a consistent 30 frames per second at a mere 1080p resolution. More and more 3rd party games, the games that are driving the majority of sales for the PlayStation 4, are running at unacceptable frame rates only two and a half years into the PlayStation 4’s life cycle. Couple this with fact that it takes beefy hardware to run virtual reality and you can start to understand why Sony might be considering an option to upgrade the PlayStation 4 to a stronger model.
Is this remotely feasible? Yes.
Unlocking the option to run existing games at a higher resolution or higher frame rate could be a great way for Sony to keep consumers from investing in performance grade computers by offering a higher end PlayStation 4. Sony should drop the existing console to $300 and offer a $500-600 USD upgraded model with a exchange program that gives consumers who have recently purchased a PlayStation 4, $150-250 off the upgraded console to keep new consumers from feeling burned. To keep the audiences from fragmenting, Sony should curate all future games to at minimum run on the original PlayStation 4 with acceptable frame rates and visual quality. The existing PlayStation 4 would operate as the 1080p console that could still run every game that releases for the platform this generation. On the other hand, the upgraded console could operate as a premium device that would run games at higher resolutions, and allow for more visual fidelity for PlayStation VR games. By doing this, Sony would not fragment their audience and while at the same time continue to compete with computer graphics for another 3-4 years up until the next console generation.
So will we see this upgraded console anytime soon? Maybe.
The PlayStation 4 is still too early into its life-cycle. With 36 million units sold and rising, the introduction of a upgraded console would most likely offend customers who purchased a PlayStation 4 within the last year. On top of that, 4K resolution gaming is still too expensive to expect Sony to offer reasonably priced hardware. A 4K ready gaming computer will set consumers back at least $1500 as of now, although that cost is likely to shrink considerably within the next couple of years due to GPU advancement. If Sony starts the conversation ahead of time on the acceptance of an upgraded console in order to temper the public, over the course of a year or two, the idea of an upgraded console might become acceptable.
To keep all the good faith Sony has fostered of this generation, the company needs to first temper consumers on the idea of an upgraded console well before its release. A mention of an upgraded console during this upcoming E3 might go a long way in achieving that goal, but as of now, it would make the most sense for the company to focus all their PR efforts on the upcoming PlayStation VR. If Sony is actually serious about introducing a PS4.5 within the next year or two, the quicker their public relations division starts the conversation of an updated console the better. With that in mind I would be very skeptical to assume a release date for this device anytime within the next year.