Even as the PS4 shipped in 2013 with outdated hardware that couldn't even hit native 1080p 60FPS in games, Sony was already planning out the next hardware jump for the PlayStation brand.
Sony's Mark Cerny admits that the Japanese console-maker was already planning out the new higher-end 4K-ready $399 PS4 Pro when the original console shipped three years ago. "We actually started thinking about the new console pretty much as soon as PlayStation 4 shipped. It was clear that during this generation 4K TV penetration would become pretty significant at that point, and we wanted to see if we could get something out there in the market to support it," PS4 architect Mark Cerny said in an official PlayStation interview.
By this line of thought, Sony pretty much realizes that the PS4 was obsolete at launch, and was already planning out what would become the PS4 Pro. Now it's worth mentioning that Sony likely couldn't have made the PS4 Pro back then as AMD's Polaris GPU technology wasn't finalized, so they released the low-tier version of their ideas as the PS4. Now that Polaris exists, they finally get to make the PS4 console that should've released back when--aka the PS4 Pro.
"Once we realized that the increased processing power necessary for 4K could be used to make the graphics better on HDTVs as well, the PS4 Pro simply became a must."
While Sony's PS4 was just the beginning of a new generation of PlayStation hardware, and it's perfectly natural for companies to start thinking about the future as soon as their present console ships, this does give insight on how the console market takes shape. Remember that Sony is in the business of selling you hardware; that means they're not going to give you the best console at any given point. Sony--and Microsoft--will stagger the console launches and break up what should be one really great console into two or three lower-end and middle-grade systems.
This is basically the console hardware cadence. While Sony says the cadence has shifted into a new iterative cycle with the PS4 Pro, the basic business strategy remains the same: drip-feed consumers with progressively more powerful tech over the years to ensure more profit. Just three years ago gamers spent $399 for the PS4 console, and just three years later we get to spend another $399 on the PS4 Pro, the console that really should've been the PS4 when it launched in 2013.
Now more than ever console gamers are seeing the truth to the console market, and they're not happy. Sony's PS4 Pro reveal should've been a triumphant success, but instead gamers were pretty jaded by the whole idea of spending $399 again and having to buy a new 4K TV to get the most out of the console.
And remember, PS4 Pro is just the middle step. The PS4 Pro isn't Sony's answer to Microsoft's "monster" Project Scorpio console: in two years, we'll have yet another powerful PS4 to buy. The veneer of console gaming is fading quickly and its own audience is getting a taste of the truth: there will also be something else to buy, and as technology evolves, the cycles will get smaller and smaller as the price tags get bigger and bigger.
Sony's PlayStation 4 Pro launches November 10, 2016 for $399. Check below for everything we know about the console so far:
PS4 Pro: What we know so far:
- Double GPU power over existing PS4 models (roughly 2x AMD Radeon HD 7850)
- AMD Polaris GPU support
- 16nm FinFET APU likely
- CPU with boosted clock rate
- Higher memory bandwidth
- No 4K UHD Blu-ray player
- Launches November 10 for $399
- 4K resolution upscaling
- HDR support
- Higher frame rates, improved in-game performance across the board
- Plays all existing PS4 games, but not every PS4 game will leverage the new hardware for improved performance
- 1TB hard drive
Read more about Sony's PS4 Pro:
- Here's why Sony nixed PS4 Pro's 4K Blu-ray player
- PS4 Pro uses AMD Polaris GPU, sits below RX 470
- PS4 Pro FAQ: Sony explains the new $399 4K PS4 console
- 14 games have PS4 Pro support built-in so far
- Here's all the PS4 Pro upgraded games so far
- PS4 Pro won't play all PS4 games at 1080p 60FPS
- Mass Effect: Andromeda runs at 4K 30FPS on PS4 Pro
- Sony's new PS4 Pro rocks double GPU power, 4K and HDR
- Sony's high-end PS4 Pro costs $399, launches November 10
- Devs have final say on PS4 Pro's Forward Compatibility
- PS4 Pro specs: 4.2 TFLOPs, Jaguar CPU, 310W power draw
- Microsoft trolls PS4 Pro's lack of a 4K Blu-ray player
- Sony's PS4 Pro doesn't hit native 4K gaming