OPINION – Sony has finally unveiled finally the rumored (and leaked) PlayStation 4 Slim, and PlayStation 4 Pro console. My reaction as a 4K TV user was mixed at best, probably because the streaming the conference is not the best way to experience 4K announcements. Still even with that out of the way, how was the conference, and did it fire up all those bank accounts ready to buy the new PS4 Pro. Eeeeh maybe?
Truth be told the entire conference felt a little too much that even Sony executives were trying to sell themselves on the console. It can do pretty much two different things, a 4K more upscale for video games ( Cerny never dared to utter the word Native 4K), or add extra effects and detail to 1080P mode for FHD TVs. Sure that extra grass on Paragon looked sweet, and Spiderman does look better with 4K enabled, but I’ll need to see this in person. These upgrades added to the PS4 Pro, the 4K, HDR content, well Sony can’t sell it to you if you watch it from a youtube stream. Which is why the duality of this conference is so visible between the media, and the attendees after the reveal of the product.
Mind the gap
The first thing I did after the meeting ended, was to compare the footage between my laptop screen, and my 4K TV (Which has all the bells and whistles – including HDR and Dolby Vision – 49″ TV), and this was the first issue. I did not see any difference besides the color being better compared to the laptop screen. This is why I need to have a PS Neo… I mean a PS4 Pro in my living room to test it. Sure Youtube has 4K streaming, but that is not the real deal in most cases (compression, etc.).
The concept of PS4 Pro sounds interesting and especially peaked my interest when Andrew House that this console is for the enthusiast and they want to keep people from switching to PC gaming. In theory, I understand Sony needs to keep their profit margins high, and trying to create hype for the next big thing.
Mark Cerny is a brilliant man with a chill voice that will soothe anyone into buying pretty much everything, but even with his technical knowledge and presentation skills, I was left baffled. The PS4 Pro does not sound like an enthusiast product, it feels like a half-measure (from the leaks regarding this I always suspected it). Is it a bad thing that it’s a half-measure? Well, they did not want to leave 40 million users behind which is understandable, on the other hand, they did not sell me on the PS4 Pro based on this conference. Days Gone looked beautiful with HDR, Spiderman too, but we will need much more footage of the games to judge them accurately. T
he different modes of PS4 Pro will also need to be tested as Mark Cerny stated, those who do not have a 4K TV will get benefits on their 1080P sets such as more visual effects, etc. The other mode is a 4K mode which doesn’t have extra effects but is in upscaled 4K. I’m not entirely sure how this will look, what the differences are, and if I’m sold on this product at all.
Andrew House wants the new model of PS4 to be a stopping gap, and with the addition of HDR, and 4K(ish) to next generation console games it should be a treat for gamers. I am not too keen on the idea because HDR and 4K means a big jump in price especially if we are looking at Sony 4K TVs. Console gaming vs. PC gaming was always about how it is cheaper, and less hassle. Well, this generation has officially entered into PC problems territory.
Day One patch, constant patches that are needed to run the game correctly, some games do not even get a fix or run horribly on the PS4 and Xbox One (looking at you Just Cause 3). There is a problem with these boxes, yes 400 dollars is the significant price tag for the PS4Pro, but to fully appreciate the ability of that box, you’ll need an above thousand dollar TV. 4K TV might be getting cheaper, but is nowhere near the affordable section, especially those with HDR10 and all the smart capabilities.
The attendees at the meeting were wowed by the PS4 PRo that could provide 4K and HDR. The general feedback from the public who watched it from streams, though? Not so much, and Sony‘s conference was not the best way to reveal the PlayStation 4 Pro. It took many articles of Digital Foundry, and other sites to quell the flames, and inform the public that it does look excellent (it’s just that none of that translates well on a 1080P screen through the internet). Sony is leading the console generation, and do not want this stride to stop, so they are trying new things, which is commendable, but this might be a misstep.
Is 4K the next big thing? Microsoft and Sony seem to be convinced by it, so much that we are now back in full swing of the console wars. With Microsoft announcing once again to the public that the Scorpio will be true 4K.
Xbox, and PC
Speaking of Microsoft after nearly three years of silence and a bit of shame, they decided to use some of the faults of PS4 and Sony to their advantage. Fallout 4 mods will not be available for PS users due to issues between Bethesda and Sony. There will also not be a 4K Blu-ray player in the PS4 Pro, which Microsoft then proceeded to post on twitter marketing pictures of Xbox One S. It was a neat little fun moment, but I realized Sony might have given a few openings to Microsoft to pull some punches. I wonder how Scorpio will turn out, as Microsoft likes to dream big on paper, but can produce absolute trainwrecks when it comes to the product.
Microsoft saw these gaffs by Sony and decided to reignite marketing for their Scorpio, and for the Xbox One S. The thing is with the iterative console cycle that is being introduced by both console companies I realized that PC gaming might regain its advantages. The main point console gamers like to emphasize is that PC gaming is a hassle, and costs too much, has many errors, and lacks the plug and play ability of the consoles. While that was true in the PS2/Xbox – PS3/Xbox 360 era, I feel that this advantage has been lost. No Man’s Sky is on its seventh patch on the PS4; The Division has needed multiple patches and server maintenance, Nuclear Throne did not get a patch for nearly a half a year because of certification issues.
Meanwhile, to take full advantage of the two consoles, and the other two which will be released later, the consumer will have to pony up a nice hefty fee for a 4K TV (LCD Panel, as OLED, is heartbreakingly expensive). A 400 dollar console seems cheap, but with all the 4K, and HDR labels on it people will realize those TVs do not come that quickly to our bank account. So you have a 400 dollar console, a TV above 1000 dollars, and then you need to buy the latest games, plus a year’s subscription to Xbox Live or PS Plus whichever console you play on. In the end, I can see some people saying: “Well I just want to play video games, I might as well build a PC out of that cost I would sink into a new TV.” Guides are plenty on the internet, and youtube so there is no shortage of help. Must webshops also will ship the PC already built up if the parts are selected by the user. PC gaming is still a bit more expensive initially, but in the long run (especially if we will see more iterative units), you might be getting more bang for your buck, rather than changing to a new console model every 3-4 years.
Is it worth it?
Whether the PS4 Pro will be worth it, depends on some factors. How Sony will handle past game’s patching (some scary new did come out recently that they might charge some additional fee for developers), and if the games will look that much different. A few comparison videos did hit the net recently, and they look okay, but once again the problem of inadequate display plus compression of youtube. It will be a tough sell for Sony, and with their recent gaffes, they might have chewed on a bit too much. We will be there to test PS4 Pro once it is released and give a proper review.