Reports this week have suggested that Sony is considering releasing a new video games console that would effectively be a PlayStation 4.5. This is a rather odd concept and name, and not necessarily one that Sony would actively consider, but the PlayStation 4.5 branding is simply to indicate that it is not a fully fledged PlayStation 5.
Of course, analysts had previously assumed that the PlayStation 5 would be the next console release from Sony, but there has been a significant amount of information released recently which suggests that the corporation could consider releasing a new machine before the PlayStation 5. In an extreme scenario, it is not inconceivable that Sony may cancel the PlayStation 5 completely.
So what will be the next major console release from Sony? Here ValueWalk assesses the likelihood of the PlayStation 4.5 rumors.
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What is the evidence for the PlayStation 4.5?
The PlayStation 4.5 story was first broken by the video game news site Kotaku, which suggests that Sony is currently working on what is effectively an upgraded version of the PlayStation 4. Kotaku cited unnamed developers close to the Japanese corporation as the source of this report, and believes discussions have been overheard regarding the PlayStation 4.5 during a major game developers conference in San Francisco.
As Sony has completely refused to comment on any such speculation, it is not yet known whether this new format would be an upgrade which attaches to the existing console, or indeed a completely new machine. Equally, it could be a complete red herring.
Does Sony need a stop-gap?
There are arguments for and against Sony needing to release a console in the foreseeable future. If one were to Superficially assess the existing video games market place, it might seem that Sony has absolutely nothing to gain in the short-term. There is no doubt whatsoever that the PlayStation 4 is dominating the existing console generation, and indeed the momentum and the good will that Sony has built up with its existing video games machine suggest that the PlayStation 5 will equally dominate the next generation as well.
Equally, there are technical challenges for Sony with producing another machine, and typically video games consoles are sold at a loss in the early days of the machine. This would seem to make little sense for Sony considering that its mobile phone division has been failing spectacularly, and the PlayStation 4 is one of the good news stories for the corporation, and one that can provide significant revenue with relatively minimal effort in the remaining years of its existence.
On the other hand, it must be stated that the PlayStation 4 is falling behind the contemporary technology in the video gaming marketplace. Yet the PlayStation 5 may not be ready for market yet, so Sony could consider this PlayStation 4.5 concept as a way to deliver what consumers are craving, without going to the massive expense of an entirely new console. And the PS5 surely shouldn’t be released for a few years considering the relatively short lifecycle of the existing PlayStation 4.
Could the PlayStation 5 be cancelled?
This notion seems extremely unlikely. There have been rumors and news emanating from Microsoft which suggest that the corporation is seriously considering tinkering with the way that its video game operation works. This could result in a stronger PC focus with the Microsoft video games branding in the future, but at the same time the corporation has confirmed that it intends to launch a full-scale Xbox Two console as well.
The speculation regarding Microsoft was mostly based around the fact that the company has been effectively thrashed by Sony in the existing generation, meaning that Microsoft needed to consider seriously whether the Xbox Two would be a viable commercial prospect. This would be less of a consideration for Sony, as the Japanese corporation is dominating the existing generation.
Sony knows it is making money from the PlayStation 4, and although the video game marketplace is becoming increasingly balkanised, diversified and complex, there is no reason to suppose that the Japanese manufacturer won’t be able to make money from the PlayStation 5 as well. It would seem to be utter stupidity to throw away the advantage that Sony has gained in the marketplace, so it is an absolute certainty, really, that the PlayStation 5 will ultimately emerge.
What justification is there for a PlayStation 4.5?
Reports have suggested that the PlayStation 4.5 would essentially address two critical aspects of the video gaming industry. And these suggestions certainly make common sense for Sony, which makes the prospect of a PlayStation 4.5 perhaps seem more feasible.
Firstly, it is suggested that the PlayStation 4.5 would enable Sony to deliver true 4K gaming. This new screen resolution is already creeping into the PC marketplace, and with broadcasters now beginning to deliver 4K systems and telecasts, it is clear that this resolution is here to stay, and indeed become part of the mainstream technology landscape. Unfortunately, the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One are nowehere near powerful enough to support 4K gaming, thus the necessity for a new console or peripheral in order to deliver this.
Secondly, the PlayStation 4.5 would reportedly support virtual reality strongly, which would be particularly valuable to Sony considering that it is planning its PlayStation VR headset release for the latter months of 2016. Again, there are question marks regarding the ability of the PlayStation 4 to support virtual reality, and it certainly cannot provide the processing power of a gaming PC set up.
Despite the rumors about the PlayStation 4.5, and the logical rationale for producing one, it is unlikely to come to fruition. Committing to producing a major piece of video gaming hardware, especially one that massively improves on the existing console generation, will be a huge commitment for Sony, and not one that it is likely to subscribe to without an extremely dire need. The existence of the PlayStation 4.5 seems likely to be an example of Chinese whispers, and the PS5 will almost certainly still be the next major Sony release.