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 couples of weeks. The latest rumor, although I hesitate even to call it a rumor at this point, comes from former Giantbomb now Kotaku writer Patrick Klepek regarding an upgraded Sony PlayStation 4 console. According to Klepek, Sony is planning on releasing an upgraded PlayStation 4 console with a stronger GPU and CPU to enable 4k resolution for PlayStation 4 games while adding more processing power for PlayStation VR. This has now been confirmed from multiple journalists spanning various trusted sources.
Does this make sense? Yes.
Still, not even three years old the PlayStation 4 has already begun to lag considerably behind modern high-end computers. Since the launch of the PS4, games have struggled to 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 lifecycle. Couple this with the 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 with a more robust model.
Is this remotely feasible? Yes.
Unlocking the option to run existing games at a higher resolution and frame rate could be a great way for Sony to keep consumers from investing in performance grade computers via a higher-end PlayStation 4. Sony should drop the existing console to $300 and provide a $500-600 upgraded model with an exchange program that gives consumers who have already recently purchased a PlayStation 4, a sale on the new model. To maintain 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 future release within this generation. The upgraded console could serve 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 reframe from fragmenting their audience 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 an 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. If Sony starts the conversation of incremental console upgrades ahead of time to temper the public, over the course of a year or two, the idea of updated 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 the updated 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 promoting the upcoming PlayStation VR. If Sony is serious about introducing a PS4.5 within the next year or two, the quicker their PR division starts the conversation with the public on 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.