Because games now are more demanding than ever, it seems like the current generation of consoles are having an even harder time keeping up than they already were. Now that Virtual Reality is slowly leaving its conceptual phase and is in the hands of some consumers, and the PlayStation VR kit coming later this year, it seems that the need for more powerful hardware in consoles is becoming more and more of a requirement. And maybe Sony has the answer.
Speaking to Kotaku, a couple of developers in contact with Sony have said that the Japanese console giant is working a "Playstation 4.5", an upgraded version of their current console that reportedly has more processing power and a graphics card that will be able to play games at a (probable 30 fps) 4K resolution, which is a resolution that is steadily gaining more prominence in living room televisions and PC monitors, sources report. The current PlayStation uses a 1080 resolution as a standard. This upgrade in hardware would mean that games would be able to run at a stabler (and maybe higher) frame rate while also enabling developers to boost the graphical fidelity of PlayStation 4 games quite a bit. Having the increased performance under the hood also means that there will be better performance for VR. This is because Sony has said that their VR kit uses the processor in the PlayStation 4 as opposed to the one in the headset.
This rumor has some credibility when rumors surfaced that Sony had meetings with developers about the new hardware during this year's Game Developers Conference. The article notes that, even though no information on a retail release are available at this time, Sony could be using the release of the 4.5 to sell the original one at a higher profit margin.
This is not the first news to come out of the industry regarding upgraded versions of this generation's consoles. Xbox's Phil Spencer already teased Microsoft's plans to sell upgrades for the Xbox One this generation during his keynote speech last week. This little detail makes the rumor about Sony's PlayStation 4.5 that more believable, especially considering they want to remain competitive.
It's not uncommon for console makers to update their devices, but none of these would be as dramatic as the changes in the rumor suggest. Usually new versions of the same consoles come out as hardware technology progresses, but this usually only results in versions of consoles that have a slimmer look to them because the hardware used in the console got smaller without having a diminished performance. A good example of this would be the PS2 slim smaller sized when compared to the original PS2. Nintendo also has something similar before with the Nintendo Gameboy Color being an upgrade for the original Gameboy and the Nintendo DSi, which was an upgraded version of the Nintendo DS.
There is as of yet precious little info out there to either confirm or debunk the rumor, but it would be very interesting if this turns out to be true, although there is a definite risk that offering different versions of the console will fragment the player base, possible excluding players on one version from playing games supported only on another version.. Kotaku contacted Sony about this, but they do not seem willing to comment on this rumor at this time.
What do you think? Would you buy upgrades for your console if those became available? What are the possible up and downsides of offering upgraded versions of the same console? Share those thoughts in the comment box below!