Where’s the incentive?
Rumors have been swirling around about a new iteration of a PlayStation console for some time now. At first, they were fairly vague, offering little more than what many fans had already speculated. A PS4.5, as it was so eloquently dubbed, would be a half-step upwards instead of being an entirely new console. Recently, a report provided of what that half-step would entail, and although it should be taken with a grain of salt, it was quite interesting.
According to the report, the PS4.5 is codenamed “NEO.” The new console would include an improved CPU, GPU, and improved RAM to boost performance and the already pretty visuals. The most interesting part of the report, however, is that the NEO will not offer exclusive games on the platform. That makes the potential new system nothing more than a visual upgrade.
After the release of both the PS4 and the Xbox One, there was some speculation that each would utilize PC-like upgrades during the course of this generation. The PC platform has always benefited from modest steps forward rather than huge leaps after long periods of time. This allows for the latest tech to be utilized and new experiences that weren’t possible before to be enjoyed. This seemed like the logical move for both Microsoft and Sony in the console space, and rumors of the NEO led many to believe that the time had come.
Yet, the fact that the NEO will not have anything “new” aside from power leaves it in a weird place. While no price for the upcoming project has been revealed, it’s safe to assume that it will cost at least as much as the PS4 does currently ($400). That’s a lot of money for just a bump in visuals and framerate. Unlike the PC market, consoles live and die on their software offerings. One only needs to look at both the Nintendo Wii U and the Xbox One to see that. While both are exceptional pieces of hardware in their own rights, the Wii U library paled in comparison to the other members of the “Big Three” in terms of variety, and the Xbox One just recently began to find its footing. The PS4 wasn’t a success because of the Sony brand, it was because of the promise of a stellar library and solid core features. Features that included some of the best visuals available on consoles currently, as the PS4 has lead in performance with multiplatform games more often than not.
Nintendo is a company that is well aware of the need for some stronger incentive as well, and that goes beyond the Wii U. Back in late 2014, the company released the New Nintendo 3DS. This was a more powerful version of the highly popular 3DS (if you couldn’t tell already). Naturally, graphics aren’t much of a reason to jump from platform to platform. There needs to be some sort of new technology that will get adopters to shift to a new console en mass. So, in order to justify the purchase Nintendo made one of the most highly anticipated titles on the platform exclusive to the upgraded version, Xenoblade Chronicles.
There, Nintendo had a coveted game that was more than enough to entice fans to make the jump. What specs alone would’ve struggled to do, a game managed with relative ease selling over half a million units. There’s just something about a good game that’s much harder to resist than new graphics. It’s why many consumers wait for a strong library before making the jump to a new generation.
For Sony to attempt to find similar success with NEO while relying completely on the strength of the PS4’s popularity, and the desire for better visuals is a bit of a gamble. As far as we know at the moment, there is no competition botching its PR to give Sony the edge again. That means the company will have to do this all on its own, a daunting endeavor indeed.
If the rumors are true and the PS4K, PS4.5, NEO, or whatever you want to call it will not have exclusive games, then Sony will have its work cut out. With no price details discussed as of yet, and no information on whether or not an upgrade program will be in place, we’re looking at a tough sell to those already enjoying the fruits of Sony’s studios. If that price isn’t competitive with any price drops coming from the competition and the upcoming NX, there could be a repeat PS3 situation in the making. A great console outpriced by solid competition.
An upgrade program would help incentivize the transition as well. While exclusive games can reel in even some of the most stubborn of consumers, a trade in deal is equally as difficult to resist. For many, it may be the only way that Sony can push the NEO into as many homes as the PS4.
As it stands right now, though, no exclusives leave the PS4.5 NEO in a weird spot. While many would agree that nicer visuals are a cool addition, you’d be hard pressed to convince most of them that it justifies purchasing an entirely new console. Sony has been mum on everything concerning this secret project, so it’s a strong possibility that they are already aware of the potential pitfalls introducing this upgrade presents. The company has managed to work magic this generation so far, so it will be interesting to see how, and even if, they can skate around this hurdle.