First of all, let me start that I have been a Sony fan, since the release of the very first PlayStation. You see, Sony changed the game moving us from massively overpriced cartridges (read: Nintendo and Sega) to games that became affordable. Consider that a mere 16 bit game in 1994 was around $80, well over 40% more expensive than any Sony game. Now, we will still pay top dollar for a true good game, which amounts to pretty much anything Rare released on Nintendo and Sega had his triumphs too, but for most kids games were just too unaffordable and Sony changed that!
Then the PS2 came and the world went mad! Sony had established itself as the number one console brand. So next we get the PS3 and I myself was a little taken back. Even aside the fact that it was not backwards compatible, but I got over it and from the end of year one (Guns of the Patriot) until the final year when the PS4 came out (the Last of Us), Sony delivered a console with a scope of games that was indeed impressive. So as the PS4 was released with a few issues around software releases, they had a decently smooth path. This information is important, because when you consider the past, I cannot imagine for the life of me why Andrew House decided to bungle it all to this extent? (Always blame the top dog!)
For this we need to take a look at ‘PlayStation boss on PS4 Pro: our approach isn’t reactive this time around‘ an article by Keith Stuart (at https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2016/sep/08/playstation-boss-andrew-house-ps4-pro-our-approach-isnt-reactive-this-time-around). The first statement “House said it would not be possible to add support for UHD discs in a later firmware update, but argued that such support was unnecessary” is one that I keep on the fence. You see, there are a few sides to that, but on this one, I am partially willing to give him the benefit of the doubt. Do not worry, more is coming now! The quote “The PlayStation 3 was heavily marketed on its ability to act as a Blu-ray disc player, and the company announced heavy support for UHD movie discs as recently as November 2015” implies that the industry was listening to earlier statements. When we consider the quote by Variety “Lionsgate disclosed plans Monday to re-master its top 100 movies in 4K ultra high-definition for digital and broadcast release, according to Steve Beeks, co-COO and president of the motion picture group“, there is every indication that this move came with the understanding that console makers would have at least implied that they were keeping pace. That is no longer the case, so Sony will be facing several angry faces soon enough. You see, like the PS3, the console by itself is only good to a certain market, the idea that the console is also the 4K player is what gets a lot more sales, I feel certain that if the Blu-ray player was absent in the PS3, the amount of PS3’s sold would have been down by a fair bit, especially in the beginning.
Now we get to the price winning statement: “When PlayStation 4 Pro was being conceived there wasn’t a word about Project Scorpio in the marketplace. I would suggest that ‘reactive’ isn’t our approach this time around” I belief that not only is it reactive, it was done in a sloppy and what I believe to be a stupid approach, especially in light of an absent 2TB drive, which Microsoft actually includes at present.
Why would I say that?
Well consider the facts. A 4K gaming system with a 1TB drive, whilst we know that this is not really the case. You see, if it was truly 4K gaming, you would have to update the TV, which is not needed. You need a much larger hard drive and from what we saw, the new models imply that upgrading the hard drive is no longer an option (implied, cannot verify at present). Now consider that 4K gaming needs a lot more space, then why waste is on anything less than 2TB drives? Well that is because the statements give us ‘4K-ready PlayStation 4 Pro console‘ implying that it is not a 4K system, but one that is presumed to be ready to offer that level of resolution, because if it was it would say ‘4K PlayStation 4 Pro console‘, with the mention that it is fully compatible with all Sony PS4 games. The fact that the Xbox One S does support the new discs makes it even more of a worry. All this breaths and smells like a reactive approach, because the reality is even less appealing. The fact that the PS4Pro is quoted “Pro also offers more visually detailed virtual reality titles to support Sony’s PlayStation VR headset which is launching on 13 October. The original PS4 will still be able to run virtual reality titles, but with lower screen resolutions or at lower frame rates” (at https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2016/sep/07/playstation-4-pro-announced-release-date-and-price-revealed), part of a story I also linked to yesterday. I think that there is a chance that those good looking games we saw for VR are all set on a PRO machine, the PS4 could end up with a lower framerate which is devastating for gameplay and thus for the product. Again, this is an assumption from me, so until we see the actual final result, do not just take my word for it!
The only part that is now going to be the case of measurement is the claim Andrew House makes “Pro sales are factored into the 20m units that we’ve said we’re going to sell this year“, I am not sure if that is a reality, until they spice up the deal by a lot, there is every chance that these numbers will not be made. Depending on the upgrade abilities people might not be willing to trade in their PS4 for the new model that is until the ability to upgrade the hard drive is known. In addition, the following numbers have been published by multiple sources: “On Thursday, Sony issued a press release to announce that the PS4 has reached a new milestone: 40 million units sold. That means the company moved 5 million consoles in less than five months, since the tally was 35 million back in early January” (at http://bgr.com/2016/05/26/ps4-sales-2016-40-million-xbox-one/), which means that when we consider that the PS3 sold 86 million consoles between 2006 and 2013 and the PS4 has since then until May 2016 sold 40 million. So the idea of selling 20 million of the new model in 2 months is just not realistic. In addition, unless they have a massive production line already working on them with at least 30% ready to ship at this very moment, there might be logistical issues with getting those numbers of sales, add to that the massive backlog that Sony faces over PlayStation VR, other issues will throw additional sabot’s into the cogs of Sony Industries. This again is just my view, but it is founded on realism and experience.
My second issue is with the presentations that are no popping up, like 4K is the only gaming mode. I get it from the Bioware point of view. They are proud to bring the new resolutions to their flagship Mass Effect. Again supporting the fact that a large drive would be essential and bragging about a 1TB drive in a time when 2TB should be the bare minimum to have, especially if you consider gamers and their need for storage, that is even before the proclaimed streaming starts, because if you have to download your movies every time you buy them, it will be a hard sell from day one. Consider that a 4K movie can be up to 100GB, now consider that this is well over 10% of the drive, how much will be left for gaming? The OS tends to take a chunk as well! Now consider Mass Effect Andromeda, this one game could easily require 50-100GB, which now implies that close to 25% of the drive is gone and that is with one game, one movie and an operating system. So when the next RPG hits you with DLC’s, remember this moment!
That was blatantly obvious when I saw the laughingly small 500GB drive on the PS4, 4K will just change that by a lot and we still haven’t gone into the 4K displays. It’s fair that you need not buy a new TV in the beginning, you will get a better view, but not a 4K view. The small Mass Effect Andromeda video on YouTube makes that pretty clear, so when you get a limited view, how much bending over backwards will you do so that you can get a fitting Screen, which will set you back a lot. Basically it is the difference between $1199 and $2699 and that is a mere 50″ screen, which is quite the amount. Also consider that 4K players are well over $200 (up to $900), if Sony had thought this through they would have included this, however, I remember the Sony inside conversation that was going on in the months before the PS2 came out. The initial Idea was to include a region free DVD player to maximise the market. Certain members of Sony Entertainment went nuts like a fishwife in heat on the Tsukiji Fish Market (trust me, it was not a pretty picture), in the end it did not happen. I wonder if we are facing a new iteration of this because excluding the drive has no valid foundation, other than the bottom dollar.
This also indicates (mind you a little speculative) that the analysts are feeling the heat that raising the price by even $50 would make it a disaster (read: a flop). If that is really true we see a clustering towards the consideration that Sony is not new for the next wave, not without a fair amount of games. This gets us to the point where I stated that the target of 20 million stated by Andrew House by the end of the year is not realistic, even more, there is a chance that Microsoft could make a killing this Christmas coming. Sony will not complain because the PlayStation VR is almost certainly becoming the hit everyone all hope, but at the desk of PS4PRO, the desks might remain silent over Christmas with a presentation a few weeks later by CEO of Sony the honourable Kazuo Hirai introducing the new CEO of Sony Interactive Entertainment.
Again, highly speculative, but we can always do that, whilst you the reader should be able and willing to oppose, because it is just one point of view.