The Pro certainly can’t compete with Project Scorpio
Reporter: Joe Carey | Sub-Editor: Jack Leslie
It’s not long until the release of the PlayStation 4 Pro. The new console will give people 4K gaming on November 10. But it’s no secret that since the reveal of the console, gamers have been disappointed. Rumours suggested the hardware would be a leap in performance and not just an unnecessary baby step. The Pro doesn’t come anywhere close to matching the specifications already touted in the Microsoft camp of the next Xbox, codenamed ‘Project Scorpio’, with the words ‘6 teraflops’ still echoing in gamers’ ears. That monster is on the horizon next year, and Sony needs a machine capable of matching it.
First of all, let’s get the details of the PlayStation 4 Pro out the way — it’s priced at £349 and allows users to play while taking advantage of high dynamic range and 4K capable televisions. Games are going to look incredibly sharp, you really can’t see the difference on your screens at home, your phone or laptop screen doesn’t have a high enough resolution for that. But be assured, 4K is going to be the new standard for which all games will be played in the near future.
The rumours for the Pro, back when it was codenamed the ‘Neo’, seemed much more tantalising — getting a new console that would iterate on the current generation in a more meaningful way, giving developers more power to play with and shaking up the industry with the first iterative console. Instead the Pro is only going to appeal to those who have 4K televisions and that isn’t many at the moment. 4K TV’s are by no means ubiquitous with only a few million being sold this year alone.
Furthermore, all PS4s are going to receive an update to let them take advantage of HDR, provided your TV has that functionality which, in essence, already takes away a unique selling point for the Pro — 4K is the only reason to buy the system. All of this, combined with the fact the unit itself is only delivering 4.2 teraflops of processing power, means the console isn’t coming anywhere close to the promised specs of Project Scorpio.
Up until now, Sony has been dominating the console war with hardware that’s more powerful and simple messaging towards gamers. But the Pro was almost an attempt by it to muddle messaging and read the tealeaves of something that hasn’t come to fruition yet — developers won’t want to put out a patch for all their games (which costs money) when there isn’t a high enough install base in 4K to justify it yet. The Pro is competing with the Xbox One S by giving you better viewing experiences for the games you’re already playing. It’s just that Sony decided to have a big reveal event for it whereas Microsoft nonchalantly included some of these features in the new, slimmer Xbox.
Microsoft has already laid its plans for Project Scorpio, it’s going to deliver a box with copious amounts of power — it plans to equip the device with enough horsepower to achieve 4K resolutions and still have games play at 60 frames per second. That’s certainly a lofty ambition, but one that will certainly be achieved when the console launches next year. Right now, PlayStation doesn’t have anything to compete with that — the most likely explanation for this is because the announcement of Scorpio seemed to take everyone, including Sony by surprise.
Instead of waiting another year to give us substantial new hardware that would include all the features of the Pro, Sony has put itself in a rather difficult position. Having a console that can hold its own in the power department is vital to stay relevant in the console industry. When Scorpio launches next year Sony needs to have a competitor. The company knows what Microsoft is shooting for with its next console, the ball is in Sony’s court to give us something more than an iteration of PlayStation 4 and instead get another generation going with PlayStation 5.