If you’re into gaming enough that you’d consider yourself a part of the gaming community, you might want to consult your doctor about your diet, as the community is going to be seriously salty over the PlayStation 4 Pro and the upcoming Xbox Scorpio for a while. We’re entering into a new age of consoles that isn’t how us olds remember gaming. The PlayStation 4 Pro isn’t for everyone. So who is it for? Who should buy it, and who should skip it?
If you already own a PlayStation 4, the PlayStation 4 Pro really isn’t for you. If you’re like me and have a tech lust that keeps you from saving money like an adult, you might get it anyway, but it’s really not for us.
The comparison we keep hearing people throw around is that of the mobile phone industry; we’re on a rolling upgrade cycle now. And that comparison is really apt, I think. As console gamers, we’re used to every new console mattering and being a must buy. Whether we’re talking about the move from NES to SNES to N64 or PlayStation 2 to PlayStation 3, or whatever else, every console release has been a substantial jump forward and each system has been packed with new features the previous generation didn’t have, even if those features are things like switching to a more standard x86 hardware architecture or getting a graphics chip with modern abilities.
This move is an incremental one. It’s a step, not a leap. I wouldn’t recommend the PlayStation 4 Pro to a PlayStation 4 owner anymore than I’d recommend the Samsung Galaxy S7 to someone with an S6. S3 or S4? Different story.
You and me, we’ll upgrade to the PlayStation 4 Ultra Pro, or maybe it’ll be a PlayStation 5. That’ll be the big one for us. But people with a PlayStation 4 Pro will probably want to wait until the PlayStation 5 Pro comes out.
What Sony – and Microsoft, but their upgrade is still a year away – is trying to do here is make the idea of a console release less of an event. Each new upgrade will stop being a must-have.
This sounds negative, but that’s actually a good thing.
That huge leap we’re used to was because we started with hardware that was a couple years behind PCs and ended with hardware that was at least 6 or 7 years behind – more like 10 or 11 in the case of the previous generation. Consoles won’t be playing catch-up with PCs like they have been for so long.
It also means that backwards compatibility isn’t even a concern anymore. The same way that Half-Life 2, the game that launched Steam, still works on current gaming rigs a full 12 years later, you won’t have to haul out old hardware when you get nostalgic for Rock Band. New games can only go so far back, but old games can go forward all but indefinitely now that we’re using the same basic hardware as PCs. The only things that would get in the way would be something like the licensing agreements that make games like Grand Theft Auto such a nightmare thanks to their pop music soundtracks.
So, the PlayStation 4 Pro isn’t for us yet. There might be some game in the near future that really tears it up on the new system and makes a compelling argument for purchasing it, but for now the upgrade isn’t going to be meaningful for PlayStation 4 owners. This is especially the case thanks to Sony’s decision to update every PlayStation 4 to take advantage of HDR color.
The PlayStation 4 Pro, as powerful as it claims to be, isn’t going to be true 4K. Beefier dedicated video cards struggle with 4K still and will for a little while longer. The PlayStation 4 Pro’s contributions to the 4K move are more about upscaling and HDR, and every PlayStation 4 is getting half of that equation. If you pick up an Ultra HD 4K TV with HDR color this year, games like Horizon Zero Dawn and Mass Effect: Andromeda are going to take advantage of all those extra colors and you’re going to see the benefits without picking up a system.
As much as it is a standalone product, the PlayStation 4 Pro is also Sony making an investment in and a gamble for the future. 4K televisions are selling like crazy right now. One in every eight homes in the United States will have a 4K television by the end of 2016, according to analysts, and as those sales grow, sales on standard definition TVs will fall off. Systems like the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One can’t do much to take advantage of that move forward, but the PlayStation 4 Pro and eventually the Xbox Scorpio can. Why should we have to wait 5 to 8 years for our consoles to catch up? Instead, the new consoles will pace with other tech while we upgrade at a more comfortable pace that suits our personal needs as gamers.
The PlayStation 4 Pro is, instead, for people who have been waiting on picking one up. The price between the PlayStation 4 and the PlayStation 4 Pro is just $100. If you’re already upgrading to 4K, that extra $100 isn’t a big deal. The Pro presents another way to take advantage of this new gear you’ve picked up. It’s also a 4K streaming video player. Sure, it doesn’t play HDR Blu-rays, but that’s not a big deal when you consider that places like Netflix and Amazon Prime are really the big sources of HDR video content these days.
And for those of us with that tech lust I mentioned earlier, having two consoles on the market now that can play 4K video and HDR games will push sales of those 4K TVs that much harder. The PlayStation 4 Pro is for the fastest growing TV market – one that most of us console gamers will, at some point, join.