It’s no secret that this fall will be an important one for Sony. With the impending release of The Last Guardian, a game that many have believed a myth, to the introduction of their VR platform, PS VR, it cannot be overstated how careful they must be in every move they make. This is not the time to start looking into introducing the next iteration of the PlayStation ecosystem; they need to wait.
CEO of Sony Interactive Entertainment(SIE), Andrew House revealed that the existence of a more powerful PlayStation 4 during an interview with The Financial Times, in the weeks leading up to E32016. However, House confirmed the console would not be revealed at the expo, as it was not the right time for the unveiling. New rumors are now circulating that the console should be expected to release sometime before the end of the 2016 calendar year. This leaves me with really only one question: why now?
Now before we go to far down the rabbit hole on something that has not even been confirmed as of yet, Sony has been incredibly smart in all of their moves this generation thus far, so I would preface this discussion with a large grain of salt before we have confirmation. Now that we have that prefaced, let’s take a look at the possibility if this is true.
Who would this console iteration be targeted at? As of right this moment, Sony has got to be banking on their hardcore audience is reserved and ready to go for the PS VR launch early this October. It would be crazy to assume that this group of people would double down on a console purchase, at the same time they are already picking up their $400 VR device. If it’s for the consumer that has waited thus far to purchase a PS4, this most likely implies that they are waiting on one of two things: the right price, or the right game. House confirmed that the next iteration would not have console exclusives, but sit side by side with the current platform… So no games that would drive this consumer. As for the price, the introduction of a higher end model would most likely imply the price drop of your existing, meaning your average “Joe” is more likely to pick up the older version for a better price.
This next console, the PlayStation Neo, the PS4k, whatever you would like to call it, is going to need the hard core Sony fanbase in order to succeed. Period. So to introduce this product when they just went out to buy your latest VR headset, would be suicide for the future of the platform and would split the market before you ever get either device off the ground. The average gamer only has so much money to toss around, and Mom & Dad will only make one unnecessary purchase to put under the christmas tree this year. Which will it be? And it’s this mentality that will force losses on the sales numbers before either hit store shelves.
You might be asking, “When?” at this point. if it were me, I would hold the console for sometime next fall. Let the PS VR get off the ground and build confidence in that platform before you start bleeding the consumers wallet for the next one. If it’s not broke, then don’t fix it- and at 40+million units sold thus far into the console generation, Sony has no reason to rush a new model to market. Just take your time, Sony. You’re holding all the cards, no point in showing your hand before it’s needed.