The recently leaked information that Sony is planning to release a PlayStation 4.5 console has really shaken up the video game world. It was largely anticipated that the next major Sony console release would be the next generation PlayStation 5, so many gamers and industry observers alike are fascinated with what Sony will ultimately produce.
There is already a lots of speculation regarding what Sony’s motivation is with the PlayStation 4.5 and how this console will appear when it hits the shelves of stores worldwide. And much of the early focus regarding this major Sony release has been on whether or not the console will deliver 4K resolution.
PlayStation 4.5 – 4K compatibility
Clearly Sony would love to achieve 4K resolution compatibility with the PlayStation 4.5, as the Japanese corporation included this theoretical ability with the PlayStation 4. Unfortunately, the PS4 is nowhere near powerful enough to deliver anything approaching remotely stable 4K gaming, and thus it will be left to next generation releases to introduce console gamers to the world of 4K.
Some analysts believe that Sony will face major, and possibly insurmountable, problems in delivering a PlayStation 4.5 that is 4K ready. But it is certain that the new console will feature a significantly more powerful GPU and general chipset architecture with the aim of hugely boosting its processing power and capabilities. At the very least the PlayStation 4.5 could deliver gaming in a higher resolution than the 1080p PS4 standard.
Sony’s hand forced
The PlayStation 4.5 can be viewed as a release that is essentially being forced on Sony due to the advances in video gaming technology. 4K resolution is already a staple of high end PC gaming, and the advent of virtual reality as a mainstream technology in 2016 will also be a challenge for console manufacturers.
While the forthcoming PlayStation 4 console is promoted by Sony as being compatible with the forthcoming PlayStation VR headset, the relatively meager processing power of which it is capable will certainly pose challenges for the system. In analyst circles, the PlayStation 4.5 is already viewed as an answer to this difficulty; a new, more powerful performer capable of delivering the sort of virtual reality and resolution performance that Sony has in mind.
This is particularly important for Sony in an increasingly balkanised and complex gaming marketplace. In particular, the massive increase in the popularity of PC gaming has ensured that Sony must keep up with the power of this niche in order to remain on top of the industry. The fact is that both the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One face the prospect of being left behind by contemporary technology, and the PlayStation 4.5 is very much an answer to this undesirable situation.
Although there has been nothing approaching official confirmation of the PlayStation 4.5, it certainly seems as if it is a rumor with legs, not least because Sony has yet to deny its existence. It is certainly a notion that makes sense, considering the vast demands on processing that virtual reality technology in particular makes. With reports that major forthcoming titles such as Gran Turismo are likely to be compatible with the PlayStation VR headset, Sony arguably needs to deliver a console platform that can truly handle the sort of gaming that is desired by fans.
Another possibility is that the PlayStation 4.5 is an attempt by the Japanese manufacturer to build virtual reality into a console as standard. Sony has plenty of competition in the virtual reality niche, with releases such as Oculus Rift and HTC Vive also enthusiastically received. But the general consensus of opinion is that if Sony is to deliver the sort of virtual reality experience that people are expecting then a new console with vastly improved internal architecture will be essential.
The other issue that Sony undoubtedly faces with the release of the PlayStation 4.5 is the threat of alienating its existing user base. The PlayStation 4 has built up a massive lead over the Xbox One video games console, and the problems that Microsoft has faced with its machine have even led some people to speculate on whether there would even be an Xbox Two sequel.
Microsoft has remained defiant in the face of struggling sales, stating that it still intends to release an Xbox Two console at a later date. But the lead that Sony has in the video gaming marketplace should mean that the corporation has no need to take risks. This suggests that Sony has recognized a real need for a new replacement for the PlayStation 4, and that’s the PlayStation 4.5 serves some very real market needs.
But this suggestion also implies that the PlayStation 4 is almost old news, and that the next generation system will significantly usurp the existing technology. This is, of course, massively problematical for Sony, as the technology giant certainly does not wish to alienate its massive installed user base. It must keep the PlayStation 4 relevant, while also offering a fresh experience with the PlayStation 4.5.
This won’t be easy, but most market observers believe that titles will now be compatible over two consoles once the PlayStation 4.5 is released. This would suggest that disks will recognise which system they are being run on, before delivering a reduced gaming experience on the PlayStation 4, and the ultimate, premium experience on the PlayStation 4.5.
Nonetheless, there are going to be a lot of PlayStation 4 consumers who could feel somewhat alienated and excluded from the next generation system, particularly if it delivers improved virtual reality gaming, for example. Sony certainly has a difficult marketing and public relations exercise ahead here, as releasing a new video games console just 3-4 years after the previous iteration is a massive departure for the industry.
Regardless of this, excitement and anticipation regarding the PlayStation 4.5 is building, and Sony fans are hopeful that it could be revealed at the E3 trade show in Los Angeles, or Gamescom in Cologne, Germany. Although there are disagreements regarding what the next generation console will deliver, this will be the biggest video game event of the year if it does indeed materialize.