Gamers, it’s time to put your thinking hats on again. Or if you’re from the Xbox One camp, you might start snickering again. The latest word to come out of the rumor mill is that Sony‘s “and a half” console upgrade might be coming earlier than expected. While most bets are still on an October release, a French video game distributor claims that the “PlayStation Neo 4K” will instead be released in September. An earlier release, however, could just about mess up everyone else’s timetables, including and especially game developers.
Debates on what the PS4.5 NEO really is has been going on for months now. This wouldn’t be the first time that Sony would put out a “refreshed” version of a console, but it is definitely the first time that it is giving it a more substantial change. That is, if the rumors and leaks are accurate.
Depending on who you ask, the hardware will be either an important change or a giant meh. Technically speaking, everything will be faster, with a slightly faster CPU and GPU, and RAM with faster bandwitdth. The biggest deal, however, will be 4K support, both upscaled and native. It is the latter that makes the “NEO” a bigger change for developers than it is for consumers.
Games released starting October are required to support a “NEO Mode”, which practically means smooth 4K mode. Sony goes even beyond that simple requirement, as NEO Mode must support the same framerate as regular non-4K mode. So if non-4K mode runs at 60 fps, 4K should also run at 60 fps, which isn’t an easy feat to pull off.
A September launch date would put the pressure game developers and publishers to pick up the pace. In game development, a month can mean a lot. The earlier schedule also places the PS4.5 NEO ahead of the launch of the PS VR. There is probably little doubt that Sony’s virtual reality system will work with the newer console, but the question is really whether it will require the special box that the current PS4 does need for it to work.