Why This Appeals to Me
As a long time console fan, my knee jerk reaction to the rumors of the PS4k/Neo was extremely negative. I’ve always valued the closed system that consoles provide developers. This practice has historically allowed them to create games that make the most out of every last drop of processing power. The recent release of Uncharted 4 and Ratchet and Clank have finally shown what the PS4 is capable of when creative minds truly get into the nitty gritty details of the beast. But, while I played these games with knowledge of the updated consoles I thought about how nice these games may look with a smoother frame rate, some extra graphical bells and whistles along with maybe a nice 4k upscale. The too long I didn’t read version: I’d really enjoy games that have a little bit of extra graphics/performance polish!
Now I know that I’m in a niche set of console gamers that would pay a bit extra for sharper aesthetics. It took some time but I’ve warmed up nicely to the idea of these iterative consoles. Leaked documents have stressed that there will be no games on PS4K that cannot be played on a standard PS4 and developers can’t even pop in an exclusive game mode. Enhancements seem to be purely from a graphics and performance standard which I feel is a great move.
Whenever a new game is released it is inevitable that you’ll find people complaining about frame rate drops or that game is at 900p versus 1080p. This is a vocal minority when compared to the 40 million consoles sold. You’re average PS4 user may not pay much attention when The Witcher 3 drops to 22 frames when battling drowners in a misty swamp but now that small group of more dedicated players will have a choice to a pay a little extra to have game that is a steady 30fps or maybe even 60fps if the Sony gives us enough power. In a world where a luxury controller sells for $150, can you really blame Sony for wanting to cater to a portion of their audience that want a slightly improved experience while also paving the way for an overall better future gaming ecosystem?
A Better Future
I’ve spoken enough about why I’m sold on the concept of a PS4k (though a day one purchase is unlikely. I need to be able to transfer my 2TB hard drive with no issue, Sony!) but the best part of the iterative console is what it means for the future. When I was a child my dad always asked if the latest console would play the previous console’s games and I always had to say no! My dad was always perplexed by this idea because it was so unique in the world of electronics and I think the move to iterative console releases will finally end our backwards compatibility woes. Iterative consoles will allow Sony to make an ecosystem where consoles will no longer stop supporting the previous generation and future generations of Playstation games will just become Playstation games. Your old library will no longer become invalid when you upgrade and that’s a great thing! A future PS5 could play the entire Sony library and we wouldn’t have to hope and beg for some form of emulation or repurchase our games when an updated version gets placed on the PSN.
Of course there will be a point when the console you currently have won’t play the latest and greatest but that won’t be after a 2-3 upgrade. I imagine Sony plans on having the next console jump be PS4k/PS5 compatible and leave PS4 in the dust for new releases which would likely give your PS4 the standard 5-6 year lifespan. Business as usual except we now have a forward thinking console in terms of library support and an option to give our games a little extra boost mid-cycle.
This is all speculation of course, but it is my dream scenario of what Sony has planned. I believe this is the picture the leaked documents paint for us but the success of this endeavor will rely 100% on how Sony markets this to the gaming public. PS4’s announcement and launch was a homerun that has unfortunately been the less common scenario in Sony’s public communications (PS Vita ❤ and PS3 both proving to be public train wrecks at their launch). Now that Andrew House has officially let the cat out of the bag, we know that iterative consoles are the future. So, let’s just kick back, crack a beer and enjoy the show as Microsoft and Sony try to pitch this controversial idea to the public.
TLDR: Don’t be afraid of the PS4k because it looks to pave the way to a more valuable and exciting gaming future!