Sony’s PS4 Pro: A 4K Future

[Originally published September 9, 2016]

Sony’s 45 minute live event emphasized 4K and HDR (High Dynamic Range) as the defining feature of their upcoming – and current – hardware. The Slim will release on September 15 for a price of $299. The Playstation Neo is now the PS4 Pro – $399, release date: Nov. 10 – and Sony continually invoked its 4K/HDR capabilities with a series of demo reels from Sony titles past and present. Horizon Zero Dawn, Mass Effect: Andromeda, Infamous: Last Light, and Shadow of Mordor were among the games showcased. It should be noted: HDR will become available to allSony Playstation 4 consoles (including the slim) via a firmware update, coming to the Playstation 4 next week.

This update reflects the most important moment in the showcase:[1]when lead system architect, Mark Cerny said,

“PS4 Pro is not intended to blur the lines between console generations.”

This statement directly contradicts Microsoft’s position on iterative console releases, suggesting that the future of console releases may be defined by this ideological split. Sony (or Microsoft) has plenty of time to change their position as they react to the market, but – for now – we can look forward to the ways these separate ideals blossom and grow.

It’s an exciting time to be a consumer.[2]

Additionally, we might surmise that the OG retail PS4 will receive a similar level of support as the PS4 Pro; Sony’s current position stresses a de-alienation of original PS4 owners, so it’s not unreasonable to assume that their current plan for PS4 Pro feature updates might also apply to the current version of the PS4. Only time will tell.

It seems that Sony is currently fighting an uphill battle, as evidenced by the dearth of nonplussed press and consumer reactions (though there are always exceptions). That being said, a twitter feed is not representative of an entire market – simply a vocal selection. Additionally, the Xbox One S boasts similar features for a less expensive price.

One other note worthy of discussion: 4K is as much a sticking point as it is a selling point. Though the PS4 Pro is capable of 4K, it is ultimately up to developers to design their game to display at that resolution. Though the presence of 4K-resolution games suggest a certain modicum of developer support, there has yet to be any sort of official – let alone widespread – development-side stance on 4K development/implementation. Keep an eye out – the opinions of people making games are just as important as those of people making hardware. 4K’s potential as a normalized format relies on developers as much as consumers at this stage.

If you missed the presentation, you may view it here. Buckle up folks, we’re in for a ride.


When he’s not intrigued by the future of console gaming, chaboi – Tom Loughney – writes about games, records LPs, and podcasts. Follow him on twitter @tloughnessmnstr


[1] This is inaccurate, the actual most important moment was when a speaker’s mic wasn’t on, and you could clearly hear an event runner whisper into a microphone “His mic’s not on.” It finally happened, folks. I finally found my ASMR trigger.

[2] This is a sentence I almost never say. My consumerhood normally fills me with a profound existential dread. That’s how you know this is REAL.

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