Sony Interactive Entertainment has officially revealed that a high-end PlayStation 4 revision is in development.
Andrew House, president and CEO of SEI, told the Financial Times on Friday that the rumored upgraded PS4 does exist and will offer new experiences over the original system. Sony didn’t provide details about most of the exact updates the new PS4 will feature but several rumors point to what it potentially looks like.
Code-named internally as the “PS4 Neo” and also nicknamed PlayStation 4K or PS4.5, the new system is rumored to feature improved hardware that is over twice as powerful with an upgraded GPU, overclocked CPU and more usable RAM. The system is confirmed to support 4K resolution output for games and ultra high-definition movies on those higher-end displays. The games themselves will look better, support improved frame-rates and offer other visual and gameplay improvements.
House didn’t reveal when Sony would launch this new PS4 console or how much it will cost. However he did confirm the Neo would have a higher retail price than the current available model that sells at $349.99.
Many might be looking forward to seeing the PS4 Neo in action at E3 but House said the company won’t reveal the console during its conference next Monday in Los Angeles. Sony is waiting for the right games and experiences to showcase the PS4 Neo’s capabilities, according to House.
Going forward there will be two versions of PS4 games, one for the original console and another for Neo users. All future new releases will still work on the original PS4 and the system’s current library will be compatible with the Neo. House said that creators will have a “small but manageable” amount of extra developmental work to support both console versions.
Both consoles will be sold alongside each other throughout the PS4’s lifespan, according to House. The PS4 Neo isn’t replacing the original PS4 but is an extension of the platform. “It is intended to sit alongside and complement the standard PS4,” he said.
The PS4 Neo is being made for the hardcore gamer demographic, according to House. Sony has sold over 40 million PS4 consoles worldwide since its launch in November 2013. The new PS4 will also be profitable for the company right away at its launch, according to Sony.
Even though console players have never dealt with upgrading to new hardware mid-generation to play better versions of a system’s games, Sony believes that people are already used to buying upgrades for other devices in their lives.
“The consumer is attuned to a different cadence of innovation in technology thanks in great part for the upgrades cadence on mobile phones or PCs,” House said.
While Sony has released updated models featuring a redesigned look for every one of its consoles since the original PlayStation, this will be the first time in history the company launches a more powerful system during the height of its current console’s cycle and supports two different versions of new games for the same platform.
Rumors about the PS4 Neo have been circling since March, with Kotaku reporting the console’s existence after talking to various developers already familiar with the new console. The system’s code-name, planned hardware specifications and other details were revealed by Giant Bomb in April. The PS4 Neo is rumored to potentially release this fall or holiday season to coincide with the PlayStation VR hardware, which launches this October for $399.99. It’s rumored the Neo console’s updated specs are needed to improve the PlayStation VR experience, which can put a technical demand on the console’s hardware.
The PS4 Neo may feature a new AMD-branded GPU card that has double the power, has a speed increase and an overall large boost in performance, according to Eurogamer. The CPU might still be based on similar hardware inside the current PS4, which uses eight AMD Jaguar cores, but will be overclocked for a 31 percent improvement in speed at 2.1 GHz over the original 1.6 GHz. The console’s RAM is still at 8GB DDR5 but will have a 24 percent boost in bandwidth and is also capable of using 512MB of additional memory.
With Neo’s introduction there will be two versions of PS4 games, one for the original hardware user-base and another for the upgraded system. Each game will ship with both modes available on the disc and will work on both consoles. All PS4 Neo games must have a minimum resolution of 1080p and will support higher definitions on 4K displays. Sony does sell its own line of 4K televisions to go along with its new PS4 console.
The Neo version of games will have enhanced features that take advantage of the console’s more powerful hardware. For example, the games might be at a higher or more stable frame-rate, include more environmental details during a single-player level or have a higher number of total players for local multiplayer games over the base PS4 version. Older games in the PS4 library can be patched for Neo support if the developer chooses to. New releases must have their Neo features at launch as Sony won’t let developers update the games later for additional improvements.
Sony is also mandating that developers can’t create exclusive content or features that only play on the Neo and vice versa. There also won’t be Neo-exclusive games that won’t play on the original PS4 hardware.
Both consoles will share the same online PS4 communities and ecosystem through the PlayStation Network, according to Eurogamer. Players on both consoles will still use the same PlayStation Store to download content. Online multiplayer games will be required to have the same features for both PS4 versions and the community cannot be divided between the two consoles. The Neo will also still use the standard DualShock 4 controller as its main peripheral.
Microsoft is also rumored to soon reveal a much more powerful Xbox One console that’s code-named “Scorpio” for a potential release in 2017, according to Polygon. The Scorpio looks to be potentially even more powerful than the PS4 Neo, which Microsoft is targeting because the Xbox One has the weaker hardware of the current two consoles. Phil Spencer, the head of the Xbox division, has compared potential Xbox One upgrades and its Windows 10 integration to how a PC updates over time with better hardware and improved gaming experiences instead of waiting years for entirely new console generations.