My Opinion (And Doubts) About PlayStation 4.5: True 4K and Expensive Hardware?
PlayStation 4.5 is being currently discussed among developers and publishers right now, according to reports and pretty reliable sources. What does this mean for us as gamers? We have an industry which is striving to both offer hardwares powerful enough for a good amount of years and make consoles a more remunerative business.
It appears clear by just looking at daily graphics comparisons that Xbox One and PlayStation 4 have shipped with pretty old or soon to be old technology. From this point of view, I am fine with hardware revisions that could possibly reduce the gap between consoles and PC.
But how do you handle it? Sony, specifically, needs to find a good way to let people who already own a PS4 to buy the new console at a not too expensive price tag (making some trade in offer official at some retail partner) and keep supporting those who will stick to the original PlayStation 4.
You can't just go and waste such a huge user base as PS4's. My opinion is Sony will work upon that base, possibly making this new console a proper PS4.5 and not a completely different platform - a more performing model of the same platform, like it happens with smartphones.
But, again, how is this console going to be supported? This is what people are wondering about now. Are Sony and other publisher going to produce and manufacture multiple versions (i.e boxart and all) of the same game for different PlayStation consoles?
While this seems unlikely, it will all be a matter of communication to understand whether this new hardware upgrade-philosophy is about to work or not for consoles just like it does on PC. And with its marketing knowledge, sure I think Sony is the best platform holder to take a stand and introduce it in the world of living room platforms.
It will need to be something really easy to understand and use, as both a product and a platform where you are buying games and entertainment content, since we are talking about a market which was heavily shifting toward casual gaming only a few years ago. (And that market share, which was born with Wii, apparently joined PlayStation fans after the Wii U debacle).
In terms of what this new PlayStation 4.5 model could offer gamers, rumors state we're going to have a more powerful console with a hardware capable of running titles at the Ultra-HD resolution (4K) and possibly supporting PlayStation VR without any external unit to add secret sauce to the PS4 console.
It really seems PS4.5 is a solution or concept Sony arrived to by looking at what the current hardware actually needs to proper run virtual reality games. This would work as a double face signal: Sony strongly believes in VR and thinks it should do everything in its power to support it now (and the $399 price tag clearly remarks that); as a long term project, virtual reality is going to be supported in the future with multiple PS VR devices each requiring a more capable hardware (console) in support.
Of course, this idea requires market to clearly respond to these signals, with players supporting Sony's vision and massively invest on virtual reality - otherwise, and we'll understand this in a couple of years by now, VR will disappear all over again from the scene.
Is this connected to PlayStation 4.5 and hardware upgrades? Well, I'd say yes, simply because PS4.5 is possibly being made in support of PlayStation VR games (we'll have to wait and see if this platform will still require an external power unit while handle virtual reality content). Depending on its success, we'll see more hardware revisions coming in the next few years, with "slim" and prettier aesthetics based models being replaced by such hardware revisions.
Is this any good for gamers?
We should not forget this hardware revision would allow consoles to be more modern and basically nearer to our idea of consoles being the most performing piece of technology on the market (like it happened at the time of PSone and PS2). So, for all of the players who are claiming current gen hardwares suck, this could potentially be the best news they'll ever read about and they could finally stop caring about PC/PS4/Xbox One differences - and start to care about PS4 and PS4.5 differences. No, just kidding.
My only doubt at the end of this giant elucubration is about promoting and supporting this type of hardware at almost three years (the middle of consoles' lifecycle more or less). We'll need gamers to be offered convenient trade in options in case they want to "upgrade" their experiences, possibly being priced directly by Sony and not left to GameStop or other retail partners, and the PS4.5 itself not to be too expensive, otherwise you will always be left with the option of buying a brand new PC.
Last but not least, I am not convinced yet about Sony building a 4K/30-60fps hardware and shipping it at about $400 as rumors suggest. There will be some sort of compromise to let the platform holder unlock such achievement, or we're just talking about a console which is supporting 4K resolution via an more powerful upscaler and selling it as true Ultra-HD just to make Sony TVs more popular again.
What's your opinion about this? Let us know in the comments below.