PlayStation 4 Neo: 4K and VR
There is no smoke without fire, or so the saying goes. But when it comes to the new iteration of Sony Interactive Entertainment’s (SIE’s) PlayStation 4 there isn’t so much smoke as billowing clouds and visible sparks. That SIE was working on a new version of the current console leader was revealed back in March, at that time it was referred to as PlayStation 4.5. It gained other names as well, such as PlayStation 4K. It was though later revealed that the codename is the PlayStation 4 Neo.
The situation for SIE is different to that of their rivals from Microsoft or from Nintendo. The tortoise and hare buy rate of the last generation simply hasn’t transpired. PlayStation 4 took off into an early lead, disappeared over the horizon and has not been seen by their rivals since. Microsoft’s launch was clumsy, with u-turns on key features and Sony gleefully sticking the boot in. Whilst Microsoft have refused to discuss their Xbox One sales figures, Sony have loudly celebrated SIE’s, releasing a press release as recently as last Thursday revealing that the PlayStation 4 had cumulatively sold more than 40 million units and 270.9 million game sales across retail and digital.
“We are truly grateful for the enormous support from our fans and partners across the globe, which helped us achieve this significant milestone in such a short span of time.” Commented Andrew House, SIE’s President and Global CEO. “We will strive to deliver even more exciting gaming experiences to our users, further driving the momentum and accelerating the expansion of the PS4 platform and its business this fiscal year by offering an unparalleled line-up of games, bringing our virtual reality system, PlayStation VR, to market and providing ground-breaking features and network services.”
And that is exactly what Sony will be looking to achieve with this rumoured new console iteration. Expansion of its market share, a consolidation of its position as the market leader, an evolution of its services and a launchpad for the PlayStation VR.
PlayStation 4 ‘Neo’ Information
An obvious lock for announcement at this year’s Electronic Entertainent Expo (E3) a lot more (alleged) technical information has been revealed for the PlayStation 4 Neo. For instance it is believed that the NEO won’t replace the original PlayStation 4, but essentially sit along side it just as a ‘better’ version. A bit like the Elite version of the Xbox 360, according to information from Giant Bomb, whilst the hard drive size will remain the same NEO will be faster with the GPU and Memory receiving upgrades and CPU running at a faster clocking time (2.1GHz). Yet the update is also believed to be significantly down on the rumoured Xbox One Scorpio in terms of performance.
The console is believed to support 4K, hence the initial “PS4K” moniker from fans and future games will, it is alleged, require both PlayStation 4 and PlayStation 4 Neo modes.
Potential prices of $399 and $499 have also been rumoured.
What PlayStation 4 ‘Neo’ Means for VR
Whilst Microsoft’s update potentially brings it full force into the VR fight, the PlayStation 4 Neo might not actually change that much. That’s because unlike their rivals the PlayStation 4’s purported update doesn’t necessarily involve virtual reality (VR) at all. Despite obviously having their own head-mounted display (HMD), the PlayStation VR, Giant Bomb noted in their piece that the documents which they saw on the PlayStation 4 Neo did not mention PlayStation VR once.
Moreover it would, you would have thought, raised more questions from game developers than we have seen if it was suddenly revealed PlayStation VR was only supportable on a more advanced console. It would take the 40 million potential user base and wipe it back down to zero. A different situation to Microsoft who haven’t so much promised anything specific in terms direct support for a HMD besides the streaming support supplied via the Oculus Rift. PlayStation 4 has been running PlayStation VR games and experiences and at no point was this suggested.
Despite recently publicised disparaging comments on the abilities of the current PlayStation 4 to run VR this has been the only instance of anyone suggesting the hardware was lacking. The comments, supposedly from the Chief Technical Officer of a developer have since been rebuffed through various channels. Another reason this would be unusual would be considering Sony’s unlock of an additional CPU core for developers to use in November.
Of course a better processing PlayStation 4 with higher fidelity graphics would indeed be beneficial to VR and the PlayStation VR, Sony will have carefully crafted its enhanced capabilities to support their HMD in the best way possible. With a new console, Neo would like as not be the recipient of any PlayStation VR bundles as opposed to the ‘base’ console.
Sony have a great opportunity to capitalise on their success and translate that over into VR adoption. With or without the addition of Neo it could become the ‘ultimate weapon’ SIE foresee it could be.
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