According to The Know the rumoured PlayStation 4K (also known as the PlayStation 4.5) reported by Kotaku, The Wall Street Journal and Eurogamer, is not only real but will be launching this year. The PS4K will run games and other media at, you guessed it, a 4K (3840 X 2160 pixels) output, which is essentially four times larger than the current console standard of 1080p (1920 X 1080).
The PS4K will likely have more powerful hardware, but as Digital Foundry notes on Eurogamer, not as powerful as its name suggests. It’s impossible for an affordable console to be able to output a game at a native 4K resolution with our present technology, so it is more realistic to expect that video games will only be upscaled from 1080p to 4K. Digital Foundry has also hedged its bets and believes the PS4K could just be a PS4 slim with a slight boost to power. Not the most exciting, but a welcome upgrade regardless.
So what’s the point of buying a PS4K? Games will likely run smoother, decreasing the probability of frame rate drops. It may even increase frame rates as well as allow for higher resolution textures, particularly in games that are designed for the newer system.
And yes, games for the PS4K are already being designed. As The Know reports: “a developer that has worked extensively with Sony in the past is developing a game for the PS4.5, using a major property.” The game is due to be shown during this year’s E3 and released in 2017. Of course, as PS4K games are still PlayStation 4 games, they’ll work on the standard console, albeit with a hit to the graphical performance. It’s unknown yet if any gameplay or other features will be locked specifically to the PS4K, though this seems unlikely.
The current pricing for the PS4K is reported at US$400 (AU$550), which is the same RRP as PlayStation VR and isn’t too much higher than the current price for the 500GB PS4 at AU$480. But the price for the 500GB model is expected to drop when the PS4K releases, meaning even if you want to buy a PlayStation but don’t have a 4K TV yet, you might still want to wait until the PS4K releases.
Of course, if this is Sony’s plan for the PS4’s future, it’s not wild to suggest that Microsoft could have similar hopes for the Xbox. During his keynote at the Xbox Spring Showcase, Head of Xbox Phil Spencer stated:
“When you look at the console space, I believe we will see more hardware innovation in the console space than we’ve ever seen. You’ll actually see us come out with new hardware capability during a generation allowing the same games to run backward and forward compatible because we have a Universal Windows Application running on top of the Universal Windows Platform that allows us to focus more and more on hardware innovation without invalidating the games that run on that platform.”
Many people took this to mean that there’s a chance the Xbox One could receive hardware upgrades in the future. This would make it similar to a PC in terms of upgradability, though would also defeat the main purpose of buying a console. Spencer seemed to realise this when he talked on Major Nelson’s podcast.
“Am I going to break open my console and start upgrading individual pieces of my console? That’s not our plan. There is something special about what happens with a console. You buy an appliance-like device; you plug it into your TV; it works when you plug it in. It’s not like I’m going to ship a screwdriver set with every console that comes out.”
Oh well. I’m sure whatever they decide to do will go fine as long as it doesn’t require Kinect.