The worst kept secret in gaming has finally been confirmed by Sony, as the console manufacturer spilled the beans on the existence of the PlayStation Neo. Sony told the British newspaper the Financial Times that it is indeed developing a more powerful version of the existing PlayStation 4 console, and the Japanese company even outlined some of the details of the device.
PlayStation Neo nearing
Andrew House, president and CEO of Sony Interactive Entertainment, told the Financial Times that what he described as the “high-end” version of the PlayStation 4 will be released at a higher price point than the existing $350 console. House described the relationship between the PlayStation Neo and the existing PlayStation 4 as one in which the two will “sit alongside and complement” one another.
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House also confirms that both the PlayStation Neo and PlayStation 4 will remain on sale until the PlayStation 5 is finally unveiled. “We will be selling both [versions] through the life cycle,” House told the Financial Times, indicating that the two consoles will effectively be similar to the two versions of the iPhone; one essentially being a higher spec edition of the PlayStation 4 range.
Specs remain murky
Of course, House did not confirm all of the details relating to the PlayStation Neo, and certainly gave no specific information regarding specifications. However, he did reveal rather more than could have been expected, even if some of the statements made by the executive were marketing fluff.
For example, the assertion that the new PlayStation Neo system has been specifically designed for “hardcore gamers” is pretty meaningless in and of itself, but clearly House is attempting to create a demarcation between the two consoles. Possibly the trickiest task that Sony has with the PlayStation Neo is marketing the machine to a new audience, but also ensuring that it does not alienate its existing installed user base for the PlayStation 4.
As expected, the PlayStation executive indicated that the upgraded version of the console will indeed support 4K television sets. This was widely anticipated as being a major feature of the PlayStation Neo, even if it will be difficult for game developers to deliver titles which run in full 4K resolution.
What this information does mean is that the PlayStation Neo will be significantly more powerful than the existing PlayStation 4, and this suggests that it will be particularly suitable for those interested in virtual reality. The Sony VR project, PlayStation VR, is due to release in October, and many analysts have suggested that the PlayStation Neo console will come out at about the same time as a companion device.
One of the most important aspects for games developers going forward is the logistical issue of producing games for two separate consoles. Earlier reports have suggested that developers would be legally required to create two versions of every new game, with one running on the base PlayStation 4, and a souped up version of the game capable of running on the new PlayStation Neo unit.
However, House was keen to diminish the accuracy of these reports, indicating that “all games will support the standard PS4 and we anticipate all or a very large majority of games will also support the high-end PS4.” Clearly Sony needs to get developers onside with the new system as quickly as possible if it is to be a commercial success, and House was certainly singing from the PR hymn sheet when speaking to the Financial Times.
No E3 debut
One slight disappointment to emerge from the interview is the fact that the console will not debut at the E3 trade show as had been suggested previously. House instead stated that Sony did not wish to introduce a teaser at this early stage, and would rather introduce the final product to gamers once there is a significant range of experiences available to showcase.
Aside from the lack of specs, three other items of information were conspicuous by their absence in the interview. House firstly declined to confirm the pricing of the new unit; although as aforementioned he did confirm that it would be more expensive than the PlayStation 4; hardly a massive revelation! There was also no clue regarding the release date of the PlayStation Neo, and indeed the ultimate final name of the console was not made clear. PlayStation Neo is strongly rumored to be a working title for the device, but it is not known how Sony will brand this new console once it is finally released.
Console war brewing
With Microsoft reportedly working on an Xbox One Scorpio, which will be a similarly upgraded version of the existing Xbox One, a console war is undoubtedly on the horizon once more. While we will never truly know the answer to this particular conundrum, it would be fascinating to know what prompted the two corporations to work on these console successors.
What can be said with complete certainty is that neither will have been acting in complete independence, and considering that Microsoft will be second to market with its own mid-generation revamp – which it hasn’t even confirmed yet – it does suggest that the Xbox One Scorpio is a direct response to information it acquired about the market-leading Sony.
The PlayStation Neo certainly sounds like an exciting machine, particularly if Sony is able to deliver true 4K gaming. At the very least, the machine will clearly deliver a significant improvement over the existing PlayStation 4, and this should help the console sell well ahead of the Christmas marketplace.
Reports have suggested that Microsoft intends to arm the Xbox One Scorpio with even more power than the PlayStation Neo, although whether this will turn out to be feasible remains to be seen. It does set up an intriguing battle in the coming years, as clearly Sony does not intend to rest on its laurels, despite having been rather dominant in the existing console generation.