If you didn’t hear, which you probably did but if you didn’t; the Playstation Neo is now officially a thing and its real name is the Playstation Pro. For Professionals, I suppose. It’s got an extra step at the top, and is a bit more powerful, and it’s also a big tolling bell signalling the start of the home console’s unabashed march in the general direction of the Personal Computer. Or PC, if you will.
Except of course it’s not really a march, it’s more of an intoxicated stumble, a kind of stilt-laden leg wobbling affair. A gazelle caught on some train tracks. A blind swing in no direction during this perpetual game of consumer-wallet pinata. Or something. Certainly at least, if #PlaystationMeeting was anything to go by.
Whether it was due to coming on straight off the back of Apple’s well ironed and glitzy display of aux-port stealing wonderment, or if it was merely due to having a Titanic’s worth of pre-show leaking; there was something a little skewif about the proceedings. It felt to me like Sony of old; a display of general snore-inducing rabbiting and borderline incompetence that would make Jack Tretton proud. Not even Mark Cerny’s dulcet tones could inspire anything in me other than a slightly nervous disposition. Come on Sony, I thought we’d gotten past all this.
Anyway, the big ‘take-home’, for want of a less nail-rippingly bizznizz term, from this whole affair, is of course the fact that we are just two years into the console cycle, and are now seeing new, upgraded hardware, bobbing to the surface of the market like a used plaster in a swimming pool. The console cycle sits at 6-7 years currently, and while minor hardware upgrades that slim the boxes and make them prettier were commonplace last time around, such leaps in under-the-hood huffing power are unheard of. Huh.
So. What exactly will this new dawn of console regeneration bring us. Staring blinkedly into the blinding light of the day, it’s pretty obvious we’re being ushered toward a business model that will essentially just make us shell out big numbers more frequently. While the PC is one target, I’d imagine the longer term goal here is mobile phone-esque yearly updates; tiny tweaks in design coupled with a power defibrillation, touted as new, daring, 400 quid must-have models. Still, that’s at least another generation away. What are we facing this time?
Eurogamer highlighted that a shift toward a base platform with regular updates where all hardware runs the same selection of games will make for a Steam-like, encompassing library; a back catalogue where games new, old and obscure are always available. Interesting and tantalising; this is of course if all past and present games will actually work across the systems. Certainly seems to be how it’s being sold right now, and that’s a very promising thing.
Similarly, with computers typically being so far ahead in terms of technology, will a more frequent refresh help level the playing field a bit? Allow developers to get their teeth wedged a little further into more cutting edge technology, in turn making better games for us, the salivating consumer? Perhaps.
It’s without a doubt that there’re benefits to more frequent upgrade-style hardware releases, but ultimately, they’re going to have to get better than what we saw earlier this week.
A Lick of Sense
Presentation aside; it felt like Sony were barely even saying anything. The long and short was, ‘it’s a bit more powerful’. Its 4K proficiency is largely a big mirror that makes it look like 4K, alongside HDR, which certainly makes those colours that they have now far prettier, but not by any such standard that it could warrant a new console purchase. I want to be excited when I’m being sold 300-odd quid’s worth of new plastic, not bored. We even found out after the event that PS4 Pro won’t run 4K blurays. Which doesn’t make a lick of sense. Given the build-up, the pre-release leaks, and the fact that the knee-chatteringly excitable Playstation VR is banging on the door of a retail release, it felt like this whole jamboree should have been so much more.
Sony’s Tokyo Games Show conference is so close now you might get away with holding your breath to see if they saved all the good stuff for their hometown show. But that too is a sentiment all too reminiscent of pre-PS4 era Sony. Constantly waiting for the next announcement, hoping they’ll finally give us a glimpse of this so called aptitude they’ve fooled us into thinking they possess. I’m a big fan of almost every move Sony have made this gen, and I’m worried what we saw last week was the iceberg looming.
Personally, I can’t really imagine wanting to upgrade every couple of years for the sake of a few more dots on screen, and if the world of consumers agrees with me (rare) then surely the way to shift new hardware is exclusive titles. Whether this will in turn, begin to create a bigger, disparaging divide between console iterations, rendering the previous ones largely outdated before they’ve even hit the market… well, we’ll have to wait and see.
Pro Vs S
For now, are you sold on the PS4 Pro? I’m sure as hell not; in fact, Microsoft’s Xbox One S looks increasingly tantalising. Time for a change? Probably not yet. Stick a comment below and let me know which slice of hardware looks more delicious to you; if you’re getting a Pro, a Slim, a PSVR or are just seeing how this whole lark plays out. More on Respawn soon.