Sony Better Tread Carefully With PS4K
Ever since learning about Sony's intention to launch an upgraded PlayStation 4, I've been very much in the opposition's camp.
Firstly, I've always loathed many aspects of the PC gaming culture and just about all of them have wormed their way into the console world now. The one thing I thought I could count on was a piece of hardware still lasting at least five years, maybe even six or seven (as the PS3 did last generation). But if that too is out the window, I will not be a happy camper.
Now, we're hearing GameStop say that updated consoles are "imminent" and prior to this, multiple sources have basically confirmed the PS4K. Then there are the rumors about a new Xbox One and the recent whisper about how Nintendo's new system, the oft-discussed yet mysterious NX, will be more powerful than PS4 "by a noticeable amount." If true, it could be argued that both Sony and Microsoft are simply responding to Nintendo releasing a more powerful console halfway through the new generation, though to me, PS4K has sounded like a Trojan Horse for PlayStation VR from jump. The point is, it really does seem like updated consoles are inevitable and if that's the case, I think out of all three manufacturers, Sony needs to be the carefullest.
By the time this upgraded machine arrives, there will be around 40 million PS4 owners around the world, and I can't imagine the majority will be ecstatic about the idea of forking over another $400 (or I've heard rumors that peg the PS4K price tag at $500) merely a year or two after they bought the first console. Obviously, it really depends on when you purchased your PS4; if you got it on launch day, you'll be understandably less peeved than someone who just got it this year, for example. But the point is, there will be a lot of leery and perhaps even downright infuriated PS4 owners, and Sony needs to explain things very, very clearly. Current owners deserve to know exactly why this new PS4 exists (what's it's purpose? Is it really just to enhance VR experiences or will it significantly upgrade non-VR titles as well?), and whether or not the "old" PS4 will feel outdated.
If developers start taking advantage of the PS4K at a rapid clip, and just about every new game looks and plays noticeably better on the new console, that's a legitimate upgrade that most avid gamers would want. And if it really does cost $500, well...like I said, there will be millions of current PS4 owners who will be none too pleased with the situation. Above all else, Sony, let me repeat: Whenever you announce this thing, be crystal clear about what this system can do, exactly what it enhances, and whether or not most, if not all, games will get a significant boost. We need to know these things before we decide to storm Sony HQ with torches and pitchforks. But make no mistake; if Sony handles this poorly, you're gonna see backlash akin to the PS3 hate during the first year of that system's existence. Lest we forget, that bash-fest was off the charts.
And this might be just as bad, though for completely different reasons. Just step lightly and avoid vagueness, Sony. Fair warning.
4/15/2016 Ben Dutka