Samuel Brace on the PlayStation Neo…
Earlier in the year, word started to come through via Kotaku, that Sony are working on a new PlayStation, not a PS5, but an interstitial, a half step, a PS4.5. On the 18th, Giant Bomb sources confirmed details of the new project, which has been given the name ‘Neo’. So, what is PS Neo? It’s basically a souped-up PS4, allowing your games to run better, look nicer. It means that developers will have to develop games for both the PS4 and for Neo, as they will exist side by side. So why is this a giant middle finger to PlayStation’s audience?
Firstly, fans who already own a PlayStation, who bought their console on or just after release, expected their sizeable investment to last them through an entire generation, who had no idea that their new console, in only a couple of years, would become obsolete. These people, who were there from the start, who have made PS4 the roaring success it is, are now being told, “Sorry, we need more of your money, and if you decide not to give us more of your money, you will be playing sub-par versions of our games”. Another way of saying this is, “FU”.
Of course, Sony aren’t making anyone upgrade, you can still play old games and new games on your beloved machine. Those who love their PS4 can continue to do so for years to come. But by having a new machine come along, so soon after PS4’s release, seems a little unfair. Now, I’m not one to scream and shout about fairness, fairness is something we care far too much about. But when someone saves and saves — not everyone has disposable income — in order to finally get their PS4, thinks to themselves, now that they are at the table, that surely for the best part of a decade they are going to be good, that they are going to be able to play the best games available on the best console available, this news becomes hard to swallow. Why shaft the people that have brought you to the dance? It seems truly bizarre, and the myopia of souring your fan base shouldn’t go unsaid either.
The second set of customers that Sony are erecting their middle finger at, aren’t customers at all, merely potential customers. With the pending release of Uncharted 4, Doom, No Man’s Sky, PS VR and Horizon on the uh… well… yeah, this is a great time to get on board the Sony train. The PS4 is very reasonably priced right now, and there are a lot of people who are seriously considering making a purchase of the world’s most popular console. Well, they WERE thinking of making a purchase. All this uncertainty about PS Neo, where this leaves PS4, when 4.5 might come out, how much it will be, and how it will affect the cost of PS4, will certainly be hurting these people. What are they are expected to think when they hear this type of news? They’ve been putting their pennies away, saving throughout the winter and spring, looking forward to finally grabbing themselves a lovely new PS4, ready for a summer of gaming, only to find, “Oh wait, if I buy one now, there could be a better one coming out by the end of the year. If I buy one now, it won’t be the premium purchase I was hoping for”. Their consoles could become outdated in a few months.
If these prospective buyers decide to wait, they will have to save even more money for a console that will surely cost more. They will have to miss out on playing the upcoming games when they release, something that has probably frustrated them so far. And why would you buy a PS4 now? It would be pretty folly. Unless you’re desperate to play something like Uncharted, why would you not wait? But how long are they going to be waiting for? Until Sony clarifies the situation, this is a mess that is just going to keep pissing people off. Some might say, “tough luck”, that those people should have jumped on board from the start, that people who haven’t forked out have no right to complain. That’s a fine statement. I can understand that sentiment. But then those people, if they didn’t take so long purchase their consoles, would have just been in the same boat as current owners, left to feel coerced into purchasing a new console, only a few years after buying their initial one. No one wins in this situation, unless you have hundreds of bucks just lying around.
Listen, if you have a PS4, you don’t have to buy a Neo whenever it comes out, but you will be playing a sub-par system if that’s your decision. Or, if you’re more monetarily affluent, you can spend those extra pennies and upgrade, you would have done at some point anyway, not this soon, but maybe you just have to get used to much shorter console cycles. If however, you don’t have your console yet, you can go with the cost-effective option and get the PS4 you’ve been saving for. Or, if all this really rubs you the wrong way, you can vote with your wallet and tell Sony in the best, most effective way, that this is not what you want, that this isn’t the way you want to be treated.
If the Neo turns out to be customisable in some way, that in the future you won’t need to buy a new PlayStation, that you will be able to add on to your existing device much like a PC, then perhaps this will be a worthwhile investment. There are rumblings that a PS5 might not necessarily be on the cards. But if Neo is just like it seems, a half step between 4 and 5, then the market has some serious thinking to do, PlayStation owners have some thinking to do. At the end of the day, the market wants it wants, and if consumers go out in droves and grab themselves a Neo, then that’s that. The fate of PS4, PS4.5, will be decided in retail stores and online. A little clarity would be appreciated however, so at least people know where they stand and just how irked to be at that middle finger.