Lion, Tigers, Bears, and PlayStation Neo – oh my…

PlayStation Neo – two words that are sure to usher in great hope and expectations to any Playstation fan. But is it all really want we are hoping for, what we are wanting, or is it another let down – will it be this generations Virtual Boy?

Playstation Neo - The New Virtual Boy

With tomorrow’s press conference by Sony that is sure to be highlighting the Playstation Neo, this console generation seems doomed. Not by the fact that this generation seems so far, in my opinion this is the most lacking generation of consoles so far (software wise), but by the fact that the PS4 only launched on November 15, 2013 – not even three years ago and already Sony is effectively releasing an enhanced model.

Two Game Modes – 1 Split Community

According to “Several sources have confirmed to gaming website Giantbomb that the PS4K is referred to internally at Sony as NEO. It will feature an all but obvious faster clock speed (8 Jaguar cores at 2.1GHz versus the PS4’s 1.6GHz) , a beefier GPU (Improved AMD GCN, 36 CUs at 911 MHz versus the PS4’s AMD GCN, 18 CUs at 800 MHz), and higher bandwidth memory (8 GB GDDR5, 218 GB/s versus the PS4’s 8 GB GDDR5, 176 GB/s). The hard drive will remain the same it seems but it’s unsure if this is the case in terms of capacity or connection speed.

What’s interesting is that Sony is taking provisions to make sure it does not leave existing PS4 users behind.

“Starting in October, every PS4 game is required to ship with both a ‘Base Mode’ which will run on the currently available PS4 and a ‘NEO Mode’ for use on the new console,” the post on Giantbomb reads. It further goes onto explain what NEO mode does.

“Games running in NEO mode will be able to use the hardware upgrades (and an additional 512 MiB in the memory budget) to offer increased and more stable frame rate and higher visual fidelity, at least when those games run at 1080p on HDTVs. The NEO will also support 4K image output, but games themselves are not required to be 4K native,” the post continues.”

So what does this mean – basically you will be supporting two different versions of a single game on one generation of consoles across two different system specifications i.e. 1 game – 2 versions. Many indie developers can barely scrap together a single release let alone multiple releases for two versions especially when the NEO install base definitively will not be as large as the stock PS4 – meaning instant revenue loss with this forced production model.

Nothing but Disappointment

Taking a step back – lets say that the Playstation NEO still sounds great to you, until you realize that there are only three big draws to the new console. Outside of these draws it ultimately fails to offer really anything new or exciting. If the conference does show something utterly amazing – you can almost bet, its simply a tech piece that may never actually hit the console – similar to the hype that most AAA games recently have been using to push their titles. (cough every Ubisoft Title)

  • 4K Gaming
  • New Modes in your Games
  • Better Frame-rates

4K Gaming

While gaming at 4K sounds great the disappoint quickly sets in when you realize you don’t have a 4K TV let alone, that even if you did the games are not required to be 4K native – meaning you probably won’t see much of an increase if any at all. Even if the console could somehow perform 4K gaming, most tests have show that it wouldn’t be native 4K – it would more than likely be upscaled to 4K. I mean some games in this current generation cant even handle 1080P – how are they supposed to handle 4K?

New Modes

This is one that really sucks; PS4 (Standard) and Playstation Neo games are (at least for now) required to be the same game type/mode. Meaning that even if the NEO could offer it in game say a split screen version unless the PS4 version can also do it, the NEO version mode cannot be included.

Better Frame-rates — (hooray, points to Just Cause 3)

Again, brace for disappointment, most test are showing that if there are improvements to frame-rates the improvements are at best marginal – is a game really going to show visual improvement with a increase of 5 frames per second – more often than not no. And again – with games on the PS4 struggling a lot of the times to retain 30 frames at 1080P how can we hugely expect better frames when the console is pushing more pixels to render.

After years of faithful console gaming, after this generation (unless something drastically changes) I will be stepping over to PC gaming, even with the initial investment of having to purchase a PC, monitor and tons of software and accessories at least I know that they will be useful and functional for years to come. So after Battlefield 1 I will not be purchasing any more games at least not console games.