PS4 Neo – Is there a point?


This is a difficult one. It has been almost 2 weeks since Sony officially revealed that it is currently hard at work on an upgraded PS4 – codenamed ‘Neo’ – designed to be sold alongside its older brother, with the promise of substantially improved CPU, GPU and memory capacity leaving many a speculator drooling at the potential prospect of a cool 60 frames per second. Of course, I am one such speculator, and I mean heck, who wouldn’t get their knickers in a twist over an even more powerful console? For those of us who don’t have the patience or the cash to join the glorious PC master-race, the announcement of a shiny new PlayStation with ‘8 Jaguar cores clocked at 2.1 GHz’ is a little like Christmas coming a second time this year.

HOWEVER. Before I charge headlong into a tearful worship of all things Sony, it has come to my attention that there have been some altogether more negative rumblings from the gaming community. I have read a few articles recently that have questioned the Japanese tech giant’s decision to throw the first punch in this particular battle, and I must admit, I find myself swayed by their rhetoric, and whilst I am very much ‘Sony ’till I die,’ I cannot deny that there are quite a few reasons to maybe not get so excited. The pros are obvious; what about the cons?

My PS4 is called Frank, and it is the love of my life. It has been a part of my family since spring last year, and whilst I haven’t touched it cosmetically it does boast a cheeky 1TB HDD to replace the standard 500GB drive that I bought it with. At the time, I was overwhelmed by its awesome power, and the enormous strides that had been made since the inception of the PS3 all those years ago: I quite specifically remember loading up Far Cry 4 for the first time and very nearly crying at the sheer beauty of the game in tandem with the console. This is probably a fairly common phenomenon, and I can only imagine what it must have been like buying the PS4 when it first arrived – the point that I’m trying to make here is that there is a substantial portion of the Sony fan-base that has bought their next-gen console – as I have – under the assumption that it is going to last. And now ‘Neo’ has been announced as if to prove them all wrong. You can see why that might be considered a bit of a middle-finger to a loyal customer base, can you not? It certainly sucks to know that you’re not playing on the most up-to-date bit of kit on offer, that’s for sure.

-insert dodging bullets pun here-

[insert arbitrary bullet dodging pun here]

There have been a variety of further potential issues raised by slightly concerned bloggers across the intersphere, with particular emphasis on an almost inevitable retirement of the standard PS4, or if not that then at the very least a drop in value significant enough to stop second-hand dealerships from even considering the console. I would not go as far as to suggest any of the above – don’t panic – simply because I’d very much rather view the side-by-side retail of both PS4 and ‘Neo’ as a chance for potential buyers to consider their options within a specific (and ultimately superior) manufacturer; the PS4 is a fantastic console in itself, and priced as it currently is at USD $349 (ish) I see no reason at all why a slightly younger, slightly faster, but also slightly more pricey sibling would give it too much to worry about. Game developers will tailor their games to run on both systems with no fuss, and I’ve even heard talk of providing software updates to current PS4 games to at least allow some use of the ‘Neo’s advanced hardware. Don’t hold me to that, though.

None of this worries me (obviously). What worries me is the knowledge that I will wake up one day to find that Frank, my much-loved and over-used PlayStation, is no longer the top dog; not only that, however, but also that if I want to upgrade I’m going to have to shift my current console for a reduced price – I was never any good at bartering – after just over a year of usage when I was under the assumption that the next next-gen system to be pumped out of Sony Corp. was scheduled for the far distant future. And then I’m going to have to fork out for a new console, which might not matter to some but for those of us on a student (or equally humble) budget could well set us back about 2 weeks worth of… well… food. I over-exaggerate, but you get the point: Sony has pushed this particular release a little too soon, in my opinion, and may well lose those customers who have just settled down to play on their very normal, entirely un-Matrix related PS4s.

Apparently, 'Neo' might have something to do with this little beauty... shh.

Apparently, ‘Neo’ might have something to do with this little beauty… don’t quote me on that.

What this all boils down to, then, is some 40 million slightly grumpy PS4 console owners who invested in Sony’s next-gen offering from the day it was released only to find that it is set to become outmoded far sooner than they anticipated. I can understand their frustration: it is a fairly radical decision, in some ways, for the company, and one that marks a departure from the console gaming norm in a big way. And we all know how we who inhabit the world of console gaming – scratch that, any gaming – flock toward the norm. In any case, I think it’s fairly safe to say that if there is anything that should not be underestimated on this earth, it’s 40 million slightly grumpy PS4 console owners.