Earlier today, as the Inquisitr reported, rumors began to come out of the Game Developer's Conference in San Francisco regarding an upgraded PlayStation 4, dubbed the PlayStation 4.5. According to rumors, first reported by Kotaku, the PlayStation 4.5 -- or PS4K as it's been called -- could bring more graphical and computer processing power to the console, making it possible to bring game resolutions up to 4K.
The behind-the-scenes discussions seem to be claiming that the reasoning behind this move could be so Sony can enhance games and their newly priced PlayStation VR headset, which at the moment requires a separate processing unit in order to operate the PSVR. This is a great move for the gaming industry as a whole if true, though many gamers, specifically those who prefer console over the open PC platform, may not greet the rumor with as much fanfare.
Pushes the envelopeThe PlayStation 4 simply cannot compete in terms of visual fidelity or stability of gameplay when it comes to even a mid-range PC. Many of the arguments held by console players -- Xbox One or PlayStation 4 -- center around graphics and game framerate. Those arguments don't exist on PC because it's variable to the individual rig's ability. With PlayStation 4, you generally see games hitting a 1080p resolution benchmark, but largely they fail to hit the industry standard of 60 frames per second. With an upgraded GPU and CPU in the PlayStation 4.5 console, they would be a non-issue. If the console is designed to take advantage of 4K resolution, then in theory, hitting at least 1080p, 60 frames per second -- or even employing a PC-like downsampling solution and pushing the resolution to 1440p -- should be easy.
Again, this is all in theory. This generation of consoles was initially hyped to bring 1080p, 60-fps gaming and both the Xbox One and PlayStation 4 have fallen short of that mark time and time again. But if your theoretical "PS4K" console should be able to hit 4K gaming, 1080p60 is a walk in the park.
PlayStation 4.5 "Unshackles" DevelopmentThe ability of a developer to take advantage of more powerful hardware allows them to do much more interesting things in terms of game development. During the last console cycle this was prevalent all around. Games such as Assassin's Creed, The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, Borderlands 2, and others really pushed the limits of the previous generation of hardware. But the consoles, when they released, were more than up for the task. This time around, the PlayStation 4 was already outdated by the time it hit store shelves, when you compare it to a comparable PC rig. So by giving the console a refresh, it opens up for developers to be able to take larger advantage of the console hardware. Better hardware overall means larger, more detailed, and more diverse game worlds for players to explore. With the expanded ability of the PlayStation 4.5, developers would be able to create more visually artistic games, allowing their creativity to flourish, instead of having to dial things back for a stagnant box like before.
Consumers Need To Buy-InAll this aside, many consumers may not be all that keen on buying another PlayStation 4, especially for those fans who may have just adopted the console themselves. A lot of the allure for some of the consumers on the PlayStation 4 system is the idea that they don't have to upgrade to best experience their platform for a few years or so. However, as development ability on one platform continues to outpace the console, it's a no brainer that a closed system should be altered to help facilitate better development overall. Imagine some of the best games on PlayStation 4, running at a higher resolution and a higher framerate. Stable gaming experiences would be regular on the console, as there, in theory, would be more than enough overhead to facilitate today's gaming standards.
Conversely, this would put the onus also on Microsoft to follow suit, something they've announced they were going to do already, but it would create even more competition between the two. Microsoft would need to create something at least on par with what Sony is theoretically proposing, especially if they don't want the resolution and performance gulf to widen with the PlayStation 4.5 and the Xbox One. Same with Nintendo, who is launching its oft rumored, though mostly unknown, Nintendo NX console at some point in the calendar year.
What would really make this work would be price, however. Some are already scoffing at the higher-than-expected cost of the PlayStation VR when all is said and done, so another PlayStation 4 that costs a ton of money wouldn't make sense. 4K gaming isn't cheap, even by PC standards, with some cards running between $500 to $700 to offer a stable 4K gaming experience.
If Sony is plotting a PlayStation 4.5 console, they would need to operate at a loss and then make it up with software to make the cost of the console a lot easier to swallow. Sony already has to overcome its "599 US Dollars" announcement, and has largely done so with the PlayStation 4 sales, but releasing a powerhouse system like a PlayStation 4.5 could recapitulate that experience.
Interested in a possible PlayStation 4.5, or any sort of PlayStation 4 upgrade? Sound off below with your thoughts on a PlayStation 4.5 console.
[Images via Sony]