These souped up consoles may not be for most gamers, but it isn’t the end of the world.
So as the PlayStation September meeting kept going, I kept thinking to myself more and more that “You know what, the PS4 Pro really isn’t for me” and to be frank, neither is Microsoft’s Project Scorpio if it follows a similar route. Why? Well, for a lot of reasons: mostly to do with not having a 4K television, but also I don’t have the money to get one and these new consoles. But you know, maybe these semi-upgraded consoles aren’t that bad. But for now, they really aren’t meant for me or you, the average gamer.
So the first, and most possibly major, reason I don’t think these half-generation consoles will be for me or most gamers is the fact that to really take advantage of their boosted hardware over the baseline consoles, you would need a 4K or HDR ready television/monitor. Now I understand 4K televisions are becoming cheaper and more widely available, but they still are rather expensive. Add to that the majority of gamers have HDTVs that I am sure are still perfectly functional, and I get a sense that the PS4 Pro and Project Scorpio’s high-end graphic capabilities will be unnoticeable or unachievable on their current screens.
In fact this occurred immediately with me, as while I was watching Sony’s presentations showing off their new powerful console as, using my not-4K-capable laptop screen, I really couldn’t see how amazing the visuals the PS4 Pro could produce. Now I consider myself somewhere near the average consumer as my spending habits match that of many people I know; now if I really couldn’t tell how good these upgrades are as an average consumer, how many other people could either? In fact, I remember quite clearly that the commentators on the stream I was watching, as well as a friend who was watching with me, had the exact same thoughts: we don’t have 4K now to be able to see the power of the PS4 Pro at its showcase, so why should we get it? This is a major reason why I don’t think these upgraded current generation consoles really won’t be for us since 4K and HDR capable monitors aren’t really that widely available or adopted.
Another reason that these .5 generation consoles may not be for the average consumer is pricing. Now don’t get me wrong, the PS4 Pro’s $399 price point is extremely competitive and the exact same price that the original console launched at; however for the average consumer, who may in fact already own a PS4 or Xbox One already, these improved consoles might not really be for them. Firstly this is because the upgrade seems a bit pricey and unjustifiable if one already owns a current gen console since, the improvements seem rather superficial and minor, but secondly and more importantly, the average consumer may need to get a brand new screen for it. To fully appreciate and take advantage of these enhanced current-gen consoles, you would really need to invest some serious cash into it, and for the average consumer this may really not be possible. I would absolutely love to have a 4K and HDR capable monitor and a PS4 Pro, but that really isn’t now, or anytime soon, in my budget.
So I think I have established quite well that the mid-generation upgraded consoles, or at least the PS4 Pro, isn’t for the average gamer; so why do I think this might be a good or inoffensive thing? Well the first thing is that the consoles have been advertised, at least by Sony for now, to in fact not be for the average consumer. The simple fact that the Japanese company has called the console the PS4 Pro suggests this: it is meant for a consumer who can afford the higher end of technology. Nowhere did they really suggest this was gonna replace the average PS4, the fact that they said it was part of the PS4 family and not a brand new generation, and also the fact that they did not say anything about PS4 Pro exclusive games all suggests to me that Sony just wants this to be for a gamer who has cutting edge technology (and a lot of money). If Microsoft’s Project Scorpio follows a similar line of thinking and ethos where the original Xbox One is not phased out and still kept as a viable option, this whole half-generation upgrade thing might not really be that offensive.
But how could it in fact benefit the average gamer? Well firstly it might lead to the prices of 4K screens to drop, as now that there is a viable reason for a lot of consumers to adopt one via these improved consoles, companies, especially Sony, may have a reason to try and sell these televisions and monitors to the average and less opulent consumer. Another reason is that by giving developers this opportunity to work on more powerful hardware, but making sure that the games these devs produce work on the baseline models of consoles, this current generation of games may be pushed further. The logic behind my argument is that by making the games look better on the stronger consoles, the need to make sure they’re compatible on the standard consoles will force developers to push the limits of the normal Xbox One and PS4, while still making sure the games function well on them. Thus newer games made for both versions of this generation of consoles may in fact look and run better even on the less powerful consoles, and so benefiting everyone.
So after all that business up there, what am I saying? Well firstly that because of the price and lack of prevalence of 4K televisions and monitors, these half-step-to-the-next-generation consoles may not really be worth buying. This is because the average consumer/gamer may not have a 4K-ready TV, or have the cash for one. But these consoles are marketed so inoffensively away from the average consumer that it’s not really worth having any strong feelings towards them apart from a shrug and a “maybe one day”. Finally, these slightly-better consoles could well benefit us all since it will drag the industry and its games a little further down the line to better experiences. However for now, the PS4 Pro really should have been called the “PS4 I have Large Amounts of Disposable Income” and Project Scorpio should be called “Xbox You Need Some Serious Cash.”