Friday, 23 September 2016

PS4 Pro: Why It Has Already Failed

I have a bad habit.

Every console generation, I buy at the wrong time. Within a year, often within months, a better version of the console (a slimmer one, or one with a bigger hard drive) comes out. Like clockwork.

This time is a little different, though. Because both Sony and Xbox have more advanced consoles which are souped-up versions of the existing generation. I’m focusing on the PS4 Pro, both because it’s just been announced and because I have a PS4.

It is a stupid idea. A strategic blunder.

In basic terms, this either sells well and succeeds, or poorly and fails. If the latter, that’s obviously a failure. But even if it sells well, there’s a problem.

Sooner or later, the PS5 and Xbox RandomNumber will come out. But who, beyond the rather rich, is going to want to buy one? A few years after that, the PS5.5 and Xbox RandomNumberB will come out. You’ll then be left with an invidious choice: buy the slightly better console that has the same range of games but will cost extra for a second console purchase, or go without and stick with the peasant version.

So, I imagine many people will wait. Meanwhile, Sony and Microsoft aren’t getting the console sales they hoped for, because the public are wary of their dodgy generation-and-a-half ways. Game sales are down, console sales are down, and everyone makes less money.

Consoles aren’t like mobile telephones. You spend for convenience. If you want to incrementally improve your gaming experience and have the dosh to throw around, the PC is there for you. PCs are more powerful in every way, games can be played without worrying nearly so much about backwards compatibility. Yes, they’re fiddlier and costlier, but that’s the trade off.

Consoles = cheaper, more convenient
PCs = more expensive, better experience

I didn’t spend a couple of hundred pounds on a black box to spend even more on another black box a year later to play the same games.

Maybe I’m just more of a skinflint/poorer than other people, or just a bit old-fashioned (that latter point is almost certainly true), but the PS4 Pro seems stupid to me. Anyone wanting continual improvements can get that already. The whole point of consoles is that they’re easy. You splash out once every seven years or so, plug in and play.

Another problem with the PS4 Pro is that to get the most out of it, you need a 4K TV. And the VR. Which also means a camera. And probably a couple of Playstation Move peripherals.

I might be wrong (I’m into F1 and classical history so I’m well aware I’m not Captain Everyman) but it seems too expensive for most people whilst offering too little (the games are the same) just a few years after the initial PS4 launch. Far better to have that for a PS5 launch, and have a VR bundle for those who want that, no?

As an aside, the Xbox Scorpio, or whatever it’s called, is a good chance for Xbox to strike back against Playstation in the console war.

Late additional bit: fresh from an underwhelming presentation, Sony’s delighted PS4 owners a little bit more. Bethesda, who wanted Fallout 4 mods on PS4 in June (they came to Xbox One in May), have said they’re cancelled, and squarely blamed Sony for that. Mods are also not coming to the PS4 version of Skyrim.

If you’re a huge Bethesda fan, that’s a great disappointment. I do like Bethesda’s games (less taken with Fallout than Elder Scrolls), and find this to be unsurprising but bad news.

There are suggestions (following the news that a farming simulator game will have mods on the PS4) that some form of mods may yet happen for Fallout 4/Skyrim on the PS4, but that remains to be seen.



  1. One thing I found hard to believe was that unlike the PS3 the PS4 doesn't play CDs. Given that consoles are sold as an home entertainment device it is a pity that Sony saw fit to drop that feature.

    1. Aye, that was disappointing. Got The Witcher 3, but the free soundtrack disc that came with it doesn't work on the PS4. Seems a bit daft to me.