New hardware announcements always make for an exciting E3, and while there have been some early leaks this year, the biggest gaming convention kicks off next week and there's a lot we still don't know. So ahead of the show, we decided to round up what we do know to prepare for the big event.
In Sony's case, it seems like it's a safe bet that a new PlayStation 4 — which we're calling PlayStation 4.5 for this story, though that will likely not be its official name — will be announced.
Not up to speed yet? No problem.
Wait, wasn’t the PlayStation 4 released not that long ago?
Yeah, Sony released PS4 back in 2013. It’s been on shelves for a little under three years, but earlier this year the industry started hearing noise Sony was gearing up for an update.
What kind of update?
The first whispers came from Kotaku in March. Its report claimed that Sony was working on a "PS4.5," which it noted might not be an official name. The report also mentioned that Sony's team was informing developers about the new hardware so they could prepare accordingly.
This was then backed up by a separate report from The Wall Street Journal, which also mentioned a new, more powerful, machine would be coming.
According to the Kotaku report, the PS4.5 will feature an upgraded GPU to support games at 4K resolution, alongside more processing power. Many have speculated that this will allow developers to create high-end, visually ambitious PlayStation VR games, which require more juice than normal PS4 games. Updating the PS4 with more graphics power will help it compete against PC-based headsets such as the HTC Vive and Oculus Rift.
According to a report from Giant Bomb, the PS4's current 1.6GHz CPU will be upgraded to 2.1GHz, the GPU will move from an AMD GCN 18 CUs at 800 MHz to 36 CUs at 911 MHz, and the 8GB of DDR5 RAM will jump from 176 GB/s to 218.
But wait ... I already own a PS4! What happens to me?
This is where it gets a little weird. Giant Bomb’s report found that not only was the PS4.5 alive and well, but that it is codenamed “Neo” — and has a preliminary price point of $399.
The big finding from this report, though, is that PlayStation developers will now have to create two versions of every game: one version for the normal PS4, and another that can take advantage of the power of PS4.5.
So if I have the old console, I won’t miss out on any games?
It looks that way. The Giant Bomb report states Sony is going to great lengths to ensure PS4 and PS4.5 owners all have the same content experience, so developers won't be allowed to create custom content for PS4.5. So, for instance, a company like Activision won’t be able to create custom DLC for Call of Duty that only plays on the PS4.5. It’ll have to be available on both consoles.
Giant Bomb's report also says developers will have the ability to create patches for older games to bring them up to the PS4.5’s new graphical standards.
Sounds like I won’t miss anything by having the old PS4 then.
Yes and no.
According to a rumor published in EDGE magazine, the reason Sony put PS4.5 into development in the first place is because the original PS4 won’t be able to deliver a high quality VR experience. In that story, the source described such performance as "terrible."
Now, that remains to be seen. We've played early PlayStation VR games and have had pretty good experiences with them. But assuming the PS4.5 is indeed coming, games will almost certainly run better on the new machine.
Could it be smaller than the current model?
None of the early reports have specifically indicated the PS4.5 will be smaller, but that wouldn’t be a total surprise. After all, Sony has released smaller versions of PS1, PS2 and PS3 in the past. Given that Microsoft is more than likely debuting an updated, slimmed-down version of the Xbox One, it would make sense for Sony to take a similar approach.
Sounds like this is definitely happening, then.
There are now multiple independent reports suggesting Sony is updating its hardware, so yeah, it’s probably happening.
The only question is when. Some rumors have indicated Sony may wait until Tokyo Game Show in September to reveal the hardware. But with just a few days until E3, all eyes are on Los Angeles. If Microsoft is debuting its new hardware next week, it would seem logical for Sony to do the same.