According to Kotaku there are rumors that Sony is working on a potential PS4.5. They note that this could be a new console SKU with slightly better performance, or it could be an upgrade attachment to the PS4. There is very little to run on besides the fact that several sources including Sony employees and developers seem to be confirming talks are indeed taking place. Though Sony itself is refusing to address it.
If the rumors are true then the new console will have an enhanced GPU and better processing power to both support 4K gaming and enhance features on the upcoming VR headset. Currently the PS4 can stream 4K video and photos, but it cannot display 4K gaming.
The scary part of this rumor is that with these new features it could also create a divide in the install base. With enhanced hardware developers could simply utilize the power to add additional features, or better visuals, instead. This in return would hurt those with the “older models” and potentially push them aside. Nintendo has done something similar with the “new 3DS” making some newer games exclusive to the new hardware. Trust me, a move like that always stings.
Why It Is Possible:
This is possible simply because the rumor suggests it will be used for PS VR. Sony already noted that PS VR may not be at the same caliber as Oculus, and perhaps they are thinking long and hard about that. A simple power boost would make it more enticing. 4K is also the priority on many of their products.
Next is the fact Microsoft has openly been suggesting Xbox One could see a performance upgrade in some way. Rather this is also a console or a simple upgrade is up in the air, but Microsoft has carefully been walking this course for a few months. Especially with how they have been intertwining with Windows 10. Sony could potentially be gearing up just in case that comes through.
Lastly console upgrades are really nothing new. Sega did it back when the Genesis released to try and keep it cutting edge.
Why It Won’t Happen:
The idea is rather broad, but one thing that is common across the reports is 4K support. In simple terms this is much harder to push than 1080, which consoles are still struggling to reach. If Sony wants to push into 4K it’s going to take a rather powerful GPU and a significant power upgrade to achieve it. At that point why not call it PS5?
Sony also doesn’t want to split their user base. Nintendo did it with 3DS and they are starting to feel the anger as more games become exclusive to the “new 3DS.” That being said it isn’t uncommon to hear companies talking about a new console this early. Sony could very well be in the planning stages of PS5, which may not see the light of day for another 2-3 years.
Lastly if this is simply for VR and 4K, then it makes no logical sense. They would be asking people to buy a $400 risk and then spend another $400 to properly use it. Consoles barely hit 1080p, so a better idea would be to say the console can hit 1080p natively. Skipping right over that and promising 4K seems like a big leap, especially since games will most likely be held back by Xbox One not producing 4K. Plus the PS4 can already produce 4K content for Sony’s other products including video and photos, so I don’t see it as a concern.
Simply put I hope this rumor is bogus and was just started up because Sony is testing PS5 ideas. A PS4.5 is a tricky situation and Sony would need to tread carefully with that approach. They also did a lot of work to put PlayStation back on top, and in such a volatile environment I doubt they take a risk like this. Especially with VR already being a big task.
In fact it isn’t just Sony that I say this about. If Microsoft plans on upgrading the Xbox One I hope that too isn’t just an Xbox One and a Half. I might be okay with upgrade peripherals if they are cost effective, but re-buying consoles just for a slight upgrade isn’t my thing. I don’t buy new phones every time they release, I surely don’t want my consoles following that same scheme. It’d turn me away.