Is PlayStation 4 Neo Really ‘The One’?

 As Sony has yet to confirm any of the rumours regarding the yet to be confirmed PlayStation Neo, the current perception and feedback that the console has received is primarily of negative nature. There’s a lot of "Why? What’s the point? and Who’s this for?" surrounding the device. Given that everything discussed here will be based on the factors of speculation, regardless of said rumors appearing to be true, Sony has been very hush on the subject. As of such reasons, everything discussed is also hypothetical.

Taking these rumours for what they are, it’s said that the PlayStation Neo is a higher-spec model of the base system that will make better use of virtual reality experiences and play games at an increased quality. Due to such differences between the Neo and the base model, it’s been said that developers have been given strict regulations as to how games should be developed in order to maintain consistency between both machines, and let’s not forget the minimisation for any disregard towards the current system. With that being said, Sony’s lack of communication has sparked some concern amongst the general install-base, most of which is driven by anger.

playstation 4

PlayStation 4 launched in 2013. PS4 Neo rumoured for a 2016 release

Sony may not have opened the floodgates to the catastrophe, but like a hooker with a bladder problem, it’s sure as heck let it piss out of control — It’s embarrassing. And with the general census being that the PlayStation Neo is to exist alongside the standard PS4 throughout the duration of its lifespan, with the base model still proving to be adequate for delivering a VR experience, the question here is why bother with it begin with? This is where the big "Why" comes into question and where the concerns seem to be justified. The manner in which this entire situation is being handled is poor to say the least, and while Sony isn’t in any way required to provide a response it would certainly give some clarity. Hypothetically, if the PlayStation Neo – when ready – is initially marketed towards VR gaming while still being able to run standard games in the same manner as the base PS4 and not in any way enhanced, then it may resolve some of the negative responses that these leaks and rumours have startled up within the current install-base. And if rumours are true, it may also lessen the impact it has had in regards to the developer’s point of view in terms of game development — The majority of which have not taken to kindly too.

PlayStation Neo is aimed at VR 

Not only that, but if the PlayStation Neo is marketed towards VR, my guess here is that it would help ease the general consumer’s minds and assist in the purchasing of the console when trying to figure out the difference between the two models. This isn’t a simple purchasing scenario like one would expect from a standard PlayStation 3 and a PS3 slim –They speak for themselves. Let’s take a walk through the average consumer’s mind. Cool-guy Darren has a social life but he wants to tryout this whole video game “thing” and pissoff his girlfriend, so he decides to take a trip to the game store. Cool-guy Darren decides to buy a PS4, he notices two different systems on the shelf with very similar names, and Cool-guy Darren suddenly has no idea which one to buy because he has no idea what a “Neo” is outside of Keanu Reeve’s stunning yet controversial performance. Leaving the process of potentially missed informed explanation up to the duties of the game store’s staff could not only confuse consumers but also damage brand recognition due to cumbersome procedures; something which has been prevalent with Nintendo’s current gaming consoles.

playstation vr

Given that all we have to go off (as both the players and the games press) is just rumours and speculation, only time will tell as to how Sony’s latest system will impact the market. But seeing how these apparent rumours seem more and more likely, the way in which this device could impact the gaming landscape is something we should consider. As it stands right now the majority of PlayStation owners are pissed, and rightfully so. The current model has been on the market for just under three years and with gaming tradition dictating to players that they should expect a console cycle to last five to seven years, it’s understandable as to why they’re upset. Adding insult to injury that the forty million users within Sony’s install-base primarily consists of the day-one buyers and the dedicated PlayStation players, they have every right to feel such way.

One can place the argument that the times are changing, there’s been a great selection of games, technology is moving quicker and consoles need to adapt to the changing landscape. But when the landscape is moving far too quickly for the average consumer’s income to invest in a device which may possibly be replaced two to three years down the line when they’ve been accustomed to such a lifespan lasting for five years at the least, the backlash is one to be expected. As far as gaming goes, but more specifically console gaming, they have no reason to keep up with technology at such a persistent rate. With an exception to the nerds sitting at the cool-kids table over at Digital Foundry, not one owner has yet to complain about the current system’s capabilities nor have they been concerned with its current feature set. If anything it’s the games themselves that people have had issues with, both in terms of exclusivity and general justification for the terminology of what "Next-Gen" means.

Is the current system behind the technological curve, lacking in performance, and dreadfully underpowered? Yes. But that’s only a point of view depending on the games being developed for it as well as the developers who are utilizing it for the things they intend to create. For the technological enthusiasts out there who know a thing or two about technological advancements within the videogame landscape, they’re more than fully aware that it was bound to happen anyway. Frankly, as far as dominance is concerned, gaming consoles have arguably been behind for the past eight technological years. In fact, I specifically remember developer Crytek’s release of Crysis back in 2007 and not one piece of mainstream PC gaming hardware being able to run the game outside of Nvidia’s £500+ graphics card, the GTX 8800. It took years of rebuilding and adjustments to the game’s actual engine in order for it to actually see a release on console by which time nobody even cared, nor did it look as good as the original game.

The take away here is that when all’s said and done the general consumer doesn’t care, and if bleeding-edge technology is what they desire then there’s another platform for that, it’s called the PC. It’s cheaper, leaps ahead of a console and has a larger selection of games. The one thing that sets that market apart from those invested within the console however, is their passion for the platform which allows them to form their own decisions for how they want their systems to perform. They’re enthusiasts, they’re not in it just to play games – they want to tweak, build, and upgrade their systems at a rate that suits them as opposed to waiting around for platforms holders to decide when necessary. If Sony’s intentions are true – to introduce a new and improved system that will co-exist alongside the current model that will play all the current and upcoming games at a much higher detail level and performance metric, while also placing VR as a secondary component – then they’re fighting a losing battle. Updating consoles at a three-year rate is not a sustainable model.

PlayStation Neo specs

If the specs of the upcoming system are true then it will be in the exact same boat that the original PlayStation 4 was in when that first launched. What happens two to three years after it’s release when insecurity sets back in for a second time round and they realise just how underpowered their new machine is compared to similarly priced PCs? If PC performance is was Sony is chasing then it’s ice-skating up a hill. If VR is what it’s chasing and the current PlayStation 4 is capable of doing so (by Sony’s own words), then why introduce the PlayStation Neo? My thoughts here is that the PlayStation Neo isn’t an additional model to exist alongside the base PS4 – it would have no reason too if the current model is more than capable. I feel it’s safe to say that the PlayStation Neo is a replacement for the current model and due to recent rumours and developers publically stating just how woefully incapable the standard model is in delivering an acceptable VR experience, it begins to make sense as to why they’re introducing a new system.

The problem isn’t necessarily the news leaks of the device, the problem is the lack of communication from Sony. Had Sony shed some light on the situation before the leaks and rumours appeared, and just come outright and said that the system is geared towards VR with the standard model being reserved for traditional gaming, then the upcoming system would have received much more of a positive perception and consumers wouldn’t feel so up in arms over the entire debacle. PlayStation 4 owners feel as though they’re being left behind and the long-term support isn’t going to be there for them. While anybody can make an argument that being an earlier adopter for any piece of technology is the price to pay, frankly, I object — that point of view holds no weight here. Being an early adopter doesn’t exist within the gaming industry, it never has for game consoles. Gaming consoles don’t have iterative models, they have variations of the same base hardware,such as the PlayStation 2 and the PS2 slim, then they have technological successors thereafter.

If being an early adopter of a game console means being the owner of the standard model which will later be replaced by a more advanced model, which also supports newer technology and superior hardware,(in this case VR), then that’s not an early adoption nor is it an "updated console" -it’s a successor with backwards-compatibility. It’s a PlayStation 5. This entire idea that being an early adopter of the PlayStation 4 is the price you pay for not waiting on an announced PlayStation Neo is no different than saying you should’ve skipped out on buying the PlayStation 2 and just waited for a "not yet announced PlayStation 3." It’s a ridiculous concept. One that puts a feeling of doubt within the consumer’s minds as to whether or not they can rely on Sony to support the upcoming system as well as the current.

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Will consumers buy PlayStation Neo?

Will PlayStation Neo do commercially well and sell people on the idea of VR? Probably. Will it place doubts in the back of consumer’s minds, having them feel as though they wasted money on the original system because the PlayStation Neo fully supports VR and plays their games at a much higher quality? Yes. "But you don’t have to buy it" As far as that notion stands, it’s pathetic. When has that idea ever worked out well, for anyone? Players have been long been accustomed to buying the latest system with each and every release because the platform holders have distilled within in their minds that this is what they need and this is what’s good for them. Nobody likes to be left behind. When players decide to make an investment in a new machine they know exactly why they’re doing it -better visual quality, better performance, newer features, more innovative games… and blind loyalty. If the idea that "You don’t have to buy it" held any actual strength then I would still be playing games on the Sega Megadrive.

Where do you stand on the PlayStation Neo? Do you think it will be problematic? Or do you think it will bring about some positives? Do you think the two models can exist alongside one another?