A lot has been said this week about Sony’s rumored PS4 upgrade, the PlayStation Neo. No longer referred to as the PlayStation 4K; the details regarding the PS Neo was brought to our attention by an article from Giant Bomb. (You can check out TICGN’s breakdown of the article right here) Showcasing the supposed specs of the PS Neo as compared to the PS4, (I say “supposed” because this is rumor after all). I’m going to play pretend for the time being and believe all of it’s true. Sony is working on an upgraded version of its juggernaut known as the PS4 even though they are already besting the Xbox One in sales by approximately 2:1 and multi-plats already run better (most of the time).
I stand by what I said on episode 13 of the Writer’s Block Podcast. I still think this is a bad idea in terms of game development and believe it would be disastrous if it launches anywhere near the PlayStation VR because they would cannibalize each other when it comes to sales. I do believe if Sony plays its cards right, and they spin it the right way that this may go over even better than anyone expects. It’s a really big game of “what if”, and there are quite a few “what ifs”.
For this to work Sony has to make sure there is parity between both systems. A game will run better on PS Neo over the other, that’s the point of it. However, they need to make sure the regular PS4 version is still up to par in the standards department. It may not be 60 frames per second but it needs to at least be a locked 30 frames per second. I don’t want a situation akin to Hyrule Warriors Legends on the Nintendo 3DS and the older 3DS hardware. While the New 3DS runs the game as it should the regular 3DS version runs like a flip book with pages missing. As long as Sony keeps its promise on this end and the PS Neo always remains an optional upgrade, launching this system shouldn’t be a big issue.
The way I think Sony can knock this out of the park is how they position the PS4. Now I’m not sure how much cost manufacturing goes into these machines or the cost of parts, but considering the PS4 launched about three years ago it should have gone down by now. Replacing parts with more cost effective or more efficient versions should be doable and Sony can use this opportunity to further optimize the system. Perhaps the manufacturing costs could be lowered enough to get the sale price down to $350 USD or even better $300 USD. If they can do that they can undercut the Xbox One again. Have Sony PR spin the PS Neo in a way that makes it more of a boutique item for the tech heads; it would be like selling a GTX 980 ti video card to someone that already has a GTX 980; Cool to have, but not necessary.
If all of this comes to pass it could be a huge opportunity for the PS4 to gain even more ground against the Xbox One. It will be a repeat of the console launch all over again. Again, this is only if Sony can drop the price of the PS4 to either the same as the Xbox One or undercut it. The Xbox One is currently selling for $299 USD, but that’s only a promotional price for now. Sales have shown the Xbox One can barely (can’t) compete in sales with the PS4 when the price is lower.
The PS Neo could end up being what helps sell even more PS4 consoles. If a parent doesn’t follow gaming news they are most likely going to buy the system that gives them more bang for their buck at a reasonable price. If you know nothing about video gaming and ask which system is more powerful and runs the games better – the Xbox One or PS4 – the sales person will say the PS4. With the Xbox One being the same or a comparable price, it’s easy to believe that person is walking out with a PS4. Would that same person get a PS Neo? Not if they’re told they play the same games at a cheaper price. The PS Neo gets the hardcore to buy another PlayStation, gets late adopters to finally pull the trigger because the PS Neo’s specs are “Next Gen enough”, and the PS4 will finally be cheap enough for more casual gamers, parents, and the money conscious to finally give in.
It’s a win-win for Sony if they do it correctly, and remember this is all hypothetical. If Microsoft launches the Xbox 1.5, Sony may have to regroup or Microsoft will do what I expect them to do, and that’s nothing, just ride it out till the next generation. Let’s also not forget about the wild card in all of this: The Nintendo NX (hopefully they change the name to the Ultra NES). I am in a wait and see approach when it comes to the NX. I hope Nintendo doesn’t do anything stupid with it, but that’s doubtful. What do you all think? Is Sony shooting itself in the foot? Does the potential existence of the PS Neo make you regret your purchase of the PS4? Are people making a big fuss about nothing? Do the Matrix references have a deeper meaning that connects the PS VR and PS Neo that we’re all just unaware of yet? Let me know in the comments below.