Written by Josh Hamilton
Neo, the mid-generation upgrade to the Playstation 4, has been officially announced.
Enhanced memory, better GPU, more efficient CPU. Games will finally run natively at 60fps and feature 4K resolution; everything a graphics-obsessed gamer craves. But fans are outraged. Has Sony made the right move?
“We’re being betrayed,” some will argue. The early adopters of the PS4 led to 55 million units being shipped, and 35.9 million units sold, as of February 2016. That was four months ago, and figures have undoubtedly soared since. Sony’s eighth generation has received mass support. Older, more experienced gamers have money to burn on new tech, but teenagers don’t. Unless your student loan is generous, you will scrape spare change together for an occasional big purchase. We can’t afford such an upgrade this often.
“We’re being betrayed” is a wholly accurate statement.
Developers are reeling from the announcement, too.
Colin Moriarty, Kinda Funny co-founder, said “developers are not happy with PS4.5.” They will have to develop the same game twice; so that it can run on the PS4 and the Neo.
He said that this will lead to “extra cost, planning, [and] other nonsense.”
We also can’t forget that releasing the Neo does not make sense right now.
Neville Upton, Gfinity CEO, said in a press release that the Xbox One has sold 18 million units, half of the PS4’s staggering figure. Clearly, Sony is dominating the market. Had their console failed to sell so well, such a manoeuvre would make more sense. Arguably, the PS3 Slim saved Sony’s seventh generation console from an early death akin to the PS Vita’s demise. The Neo would be Sony’s saving grace for the PS4’s failure.
But the PS4 was not a failure. The PS4 was a success – and still is. To release an upgraded console divides their already-conquered market.
Will this dissuade more users from purchasing a PS4 until the Neo’s release? Probably. Many won’t want to miss out on an upgrade to their games’ performance. I for one am yet to buy a next-gen system (though at this point, we should be calling them current-gen consoles). There’s little reason for me to acquire one now until the Neo comes out, as I have a huge library of Playstation 3 games to continue working through.
The cost of the Neo alone will be one aspect of Sony’s reduced market-share from now until its release.
At a staggering £350, Playstation VR is also a costly investment. Gamers will be forced to choose between boarding the VR train, or buying a ticket for the trip towards improved gaming performances. We have here another negative split in Sony’s console market.
With that said, Sony continues to reiterate that games running on the Neo will not have any special features. You won’t get access to some meta-game if you start playing Uncharted 4 on their mid-generation upgrade. The standard PS4 will also continue to be supported alongside the Neo, but it is only a matter of time until developers focus their efforts on Sony’s newer console. Remember the dissonance between cross-generation games? Remember how poor Call of Duty was on the PS3?
And remember how gorgeous The Last of Us looked in comparison to Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune? Those games were released on the same console, at opposite ends of its lifecycle. Developers are well-known for producing better-looking games as the years go by because they possess a greater awareness for how consoles work.
Do we really need a Neo?
Sony’s future may not be all doom-and-gloom.
A mid-generation upgrade offers a new trend in an industry dominated by five-year-or-so lifecycles, before being replaced by a new numbered console. Traditionally, console gamers are treated to machines that can be picked up and played out of the box. We have never had to worry about having the correct graphics card, or finding updates online because our new favourite game has suddenly stopped working. Neo is a step toward PC gaming. If Sony’s new venture is successful, we may see companies releasing mid-generation upgrades every three years.
Microsoft are following in Sony’s footsteps.
Their new console, the Xbox One Slim, recently leaked. It will support 4K video, have a 2TB hard drive, and will be 40% smaller than its bulky counterpart. Usually, Sony have followed this pattern too, but have been bombarded for wanting to change their usual routine. Is this fair? Should Sony be bombarded with anger, simply for offering a new, more powerful console? Or should the company have waited until releasing the inevitable PlayStation 5 in 2018?
Let me know your thoughts on the imminent, reignited console war in the comments below.