The console business is changing, and it’s not going to change back. It formally began with Microsoft’s announcement of Project Scorpio at its E3 2016 press conference, and is set to continue on Wednesday evening (7 September 2016) when Sony is expected to reveal the PlayStation Neo.
Expected, because very little is certain about the show. We know it takes place at The PlayStation Theatre in New York City at 8pm BST. We know it’s being called a PlayStation Meeting – a term Sony hasn’t used since the PS4 reveal event in 2013 – and that according Sony will discuss “the PlayStation business” at the event.
It is widely expected however that Sony will announced not one, but two new pieces of hardware at the show: a slimline PS4 and the more powerful Neo. PlayStation Korea has confirmed that at least one will be there.
Here’s what to expect from both devices, and what else Sony might discuss or show off.
Given that slim PS4s are out there in the wild, being played on and sold at branches of CEX, an announcement is all but guaranteed. Whatever nefarious, highly illegal means led to the complete exposure of the hardware before it has even been announced, it’s clear that these consoles are intended to be sold very soon.
What we know is that the slim device is not actually called the PlayStation Slim, inferring that it will be the new base model replacing the original model. It is smaller with a more rounded design and a matte finish, with a top half – if the console is laid down – that is thinner.
Other changes to the console are fairly minor. The spacing between its USB ports is different, and there is no optical out port. The leaked console has a 500GB upgradable hard drive, but a 1TB model isn’t out of the question.
This is where things get interesting. PlayStation Neo, or PS4.5, or PS4K, whatever you want to call it was first reported in March 2016 following this year’s Game Developer Conference. It began with a report from Kotaku and continued with further reports from Eurogamer and The Wall Street Journal essentially confirming the hardware’s existence.
In June, shortly prior to E3 2016, Sony announced the Neo with little fanfare and scarce details. Many were expecting Sony to make an announcement at its E3 press conference, but it did not appear. There was confirmation that the hardware would support 4K, but not specifically whether it will support 4K gaming alongside the expected 4K media (streaming and Ultra Blu Ray discs) support.
At the time Sony Interactive Entertainment president and global chief executive Andrew House told Financial Times: “All games will support the standard PS4 and we anticipate all or a very large majority of games will also support the high-end PS4.”
The codename Neo was reported in April alongside hardware specs that included an improved CPU, GPU and RAM. Giant Bomb’s report also detailed Sony’s strict rule-set for developing games that support Neo, ensuring players enjoying a better visual performance on the console will not gain an advantage over other players. This would likely mean a locked framerate across both consoles.
With a console that offers higher performance, Sony will likely want to show off all that graphical niceness with some upcoming games. When the Neo releases will determine the game shown off, if it’s this year then Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare makes sense given the series’ relationship with Sony and PlayStation.
If Neo is out next year, then it’ll be something like Horizon: Zero Dawn. Gran Turismo Sport is an option, but it’s not been long since the game was delayed and it should probably be laying low. At a stretch the new God of War or Spider-Man games could appear, if there’s something new to be shown.
A new DualShock 4 controller is being included with the Slim, but it doesn’t appear to be much different from the standard model – other than it having a front-facing light bar.
Sony has a third piece of hardware its set to launch in just over a month: the PlayStation VR virtual reality headset. It’ll get a mention of course, but the nature of the company’s other announcements will dictate just how much we hear about it.
With the launch so soon, we could get some details on bundles and maybe see a montage of some of the games coming to the headset this year. Where it gets complicated is in regard to the Neo.
The more powerful console should in theory be capable of supporting PSVR without the need for the external processor required when used with base PS4 models. If that’s the case, then PSVR can be sold at a lower price without the processor, when being used with the Neo.
Depending on when the Neo launches, we could hear about a cheaper PSVR SKU. If Neo launches next year then we probably won’t, as it’ll make the more expensive SKU launching next month less appealing.