Video game news, reviews and commentary with Gazette reporter Jake Magee.

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Jake Magee

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Rumors have been circulating for some time now that Sony is working on an upgraded version of the PlayStation 4, and that’s the last thing console gamers need right now.

According to the rumors, the project has been dubbed “PlayStation Neo,” and it isn’t a full-fledged new console but a more powerful version of the PlayStation 4 that was released in 2013—a PS4.5, if you will. Reports indicate the PlayStation Neo will support 4K resolution gaming, which is almost four times more powerful than 1080 resolution most high-definition televisions display.

On the heels of the PS4.5 rumor are reports that Microsoft might be working on a new Xbox One model, too. It’s unknown whether it’s going to be an upgraded console such as the Neo or just a slimmer version of the current system, as Microsoft did with last generation’s Xbox 360.

In the meantime, the companies are only hurting themselves by not confirming or denying the rumors of the new consoles’ alleged existence. Gamers thinking of buying a PlayStation 4 or Xbox One won’t do so if they know an upgraded system could be on its way.

Unless both companies use caution and foresight, releasing these new consoles at this point is a mistake for a few reasons.

COST

Video game consoles aren’t cheap. Both the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 console generation lasted far longer than they should have, but at least I didn’t have to throw down hundreds of dollars every few years for a slight system upgrade.

The PlayStation 4 and Xbox One launched in November 2013, less than three years ago. I didn’t buy my One until March 2014, and several others waited even longer for price drops or different games to release.

To think about already buying a new console only a couple of years after getting my Xbox One rubs me the wrong way. Have technology, graphics, processing power and so on advanced enough in the past couple years to warrant spending another $500 on a slightly more powerful video game console? I doubt it.

DIVIDING THE FANBASE AND DEVELOPERS

If upgraded versions of consoles are indeed on their way, it’s possible games eventually won’t work well on the original systems. How might it feel to decide to stick with the PS4, for instance, and come to find out some eventual games perform terribly on the then-outdated machine?

Even if that never comes to pass, anyone who has finally saved enough cash to buy a PlayStation 4 in, say, February is going to feel betrayed if a fancier version comes out in a year—even if it is pricier. Rewarding such gamers’ loyalty with a new console they have to shell out more money for sounds like a recipe for disaster.

As far as development goes, what will it be like to develop a game for two systems—one more powerful than the other? Will studios have to create two versions of the same game or put in more hours to make sure their game works for both versions of a console? I can only speculate, but I’ll bet developers aren’t happy about it.

CONSOLES AREN’T PCS

I’m a shameless dirty console peasant (the term coined by the “PC master race” to belittle those who play Xbox or PlayStation instead of on customizable, upgradeable, vastly superior computers), and there’s a reason for that.

When I play a game on my Xbox One, I know it’s going to work. I can buy an Xbox One game at any point and have confidence in the fact it will run perfectly when I stick it in my system.

PC gamers don’t have that luxury. They often have to troubleshoot and mess with settings to optimize how their games run. Many gamers are fine with this setback knowing their graphics and frame rate are always top notch, but even that comes with a cost. Most decent gaming PCs cost hundreds more than the Xbox One and PlayStation 4, and then there are the additional dollars to maintain and upgrade them. But again, some gamers prefer this.

If upgraded versions of the Xbox One and PS4 release, it sets a dangerous precedent. There’s another rumor there will be no PS5, meaning the PS4 will require constant upgrades to remain relevant.

I don’t like the idea of having to optimize my hardware every few years to play the latest games. It could be cheaper than a whole new system in the long run, but I think I’d prefer buying a brand new system every five years than have to worry about manually tuning up my console.

Video game columnist Jake Magee has been with GazetteXtra since 2014. His opinion is not necessarily that of Gazette management. Let him know what you think by emailing jmagee@gazettextra.com, leaving a comment below, or following @jakemmagee on Twitter.

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