In what might have been the most unsurprising move ever, Sony announced this week that the PlayStation 4 Pro will be available this November and be sold as a more powerful sibling to the newly redesigned PlayStation 4. The Pro will be able to play games at 4K (sort of), have HDR (High-Dynamic Range) support (not unique to the console, however), and cost $399 USD (as much as a PlayStation VR). Notice for every selling point I mentioned it, there was some sort of caveat. For everything strength that Sony is trying to promote, there’s a weakness that isn’t doing Sony or the PS4 Pro any favours. As a fan of both Sony and PlayStation, the whole thing feels pointless. Here are my reasons why.
Who is this for?
Based on the price and specs of the PS4 Pro, it isn’t clear who the system is targetted at. If you don’t have a PS4 and don’t have a 4K TV, I’m not sure why you want to spend the extra 100 when you can save yourself the money and buy the same system that millions of others have bought. If already have a Ps4 and don’t have a 4K tv, you’re certainly not going to replace it when your current Ps4 is going to be getting a firmware upgrade that allows it to support HDR. And if you do or don’t have a Ps4 and have a 4K TV, unless you’re more than ready to drop 400 bucks (500 if you’re Canadian 😦 ), it seems like a real waste of money. Especially when you consider the other problems with the system.
It does 4K(ish)
As I alluded to in my introduction, while the Pro does do 4K, a lot of the 4K gaming that Sony is touting isn’t quite true. While it is possible for 4K resolution and 60 frames per second, a majority of the titles they claim to have support for the increase in performance don’t fully meet that benchmark. Most multiplayer titles will stay at 30 frames per second, and many other games including Deus Ex, Horizon Zero Dawn, and The Last of Us don’t do a full 4K, rather a resolution close to 4K. I know that most games can’t even do full HD, but it doesn’t exactly make you look good if you as a platform state something as fact, and then the game studios disprove that almost immediately. I have to admit that the “behind-the-scenes” tech that does all this still makes the games look incredible, but if you don’t have a 4K TV, you’re honestly not going to be able to tell the difference. And while the system will have 4K video apps and streaming, 4K Blu- ray will not be available at launch. Now this doesn’t bother me much as I’m not really into buying movies on discs these days, and Sony seems to agree with me. But based on the internet’s reaction I know that many see this as an issue. Especially when you compare the PS4 Pro to Xbox One S which is less powerful and cheaper and yet has a 4K Blu-ray player. Ironic considering Blu-ray is Sony’s technology.
Microsoft Scorpio Exists
It isn’t even out yet, but Microsoft’s next gaming console which is code-named Scorpio already has the edge over the Ps4 Pro. While it won’t be released until 2017, reported specs already put it at a large technological advantage over the PS4 Pro. While it sounds like it will be more expensive than the Pro, it would probably seem like a better investment if you’re looking for a device that can take full advantage of 4K technologies. I know I’ve held off buying and Xbox One S because the Scorpio seems like a much more worthwhile product. Considering that the Scorpio was announced back in June at E3 2016, I don’t know if it ever crossed Sony’s mind to hold off revealing the Pro and going back to the drawing board. But the fact that the Pro will be available in November probably means that manufacturing had started already, and it would have been too costly to stop production.
I know I’m not alone in feeling less than enthused about the PS4 Pro. Both gamers and critics have expressed both excitement and displeasure for Sony’s new systems. While I can understand the intention, it feels like it’s the wrong time and not powerful enough to justify purchasing the pro. I’ll concede that it feels a bit of a first world problem pointing out the faults in a product that is already a luxury. But if Sony doesn’t want to come across as greedy and not in touch with their audience, they didn’t nail that this time around.