Okay everyone, let’s start by taking a deep breath. There we go, feel good now? I hope so because we’re going to talk about the Neo. Take another deep breath because I’m going against the conventional wisdom of the internet by believing (see: understanding) that the Neo is more than likely a good thing.
Everyone wants to believe Sony is screwing existing PS4 owners or just trying to cash in. But the concept of the Neo is a calculated risk and shows that Sony understands the market and is hearing what the vocal majority is saying. Here’s the thing, all those people going onto forums complaining about games not running at full 1080p or not running at 60 FPS are exactly the reason why the Neo “exists”. Sony heard you, and are apparently making the console you asked for. Back when the PS4 and XOne released in 2013, both platforms were behind the times. I remember in early 2014 when more and more articles popped up all over the internet saying this game or that game would run sub 1080p or locked 30 FPS. I knew this would likely be a short generation. The age of a 10 year cycle is long gone, because technology is moving far too fast for a closed system to remain relevant for that period of time. Not to mention that with the new platforms all based on the same X86 architecture as PCs, there is no more movie magic like PS3’s cell processor to pump out unreasonable amounts of, “How did they do this?”
Realistically, this generation lasting more than 4 years would be an unexpected success. PCs just keep increasing the gap in visuals. The Neo is a stop gap measure to be sure, but it shows that Sony understands and is adapting to how technology has changed in a console generation. Incremental upgrades have their own issues, but the Neo is better spec’d than most people will give it credit for. Many want to hone in on its 4k capabilities and the fact that the vast majority of users won’t benefit from games running at a 4k resolution. However, everyone will benefit from the implied fact that it can because games running at 1080p will still look better and have a higher frame rate, at least 60 FPS. Remember, according to the documents Neo cannot have exclusive content or features, but all games as of October 2016 will have to take advantage of the Neo’s hardware and older games can be patched to do so. Games will, I’ll say again, WILL run better on that hardware, and it will be a noticeable jump.
As far as developers taking advantage of it, that’s simple too. Most PS4 games also appear on Xbox One, a less powerful system (if only marginally) and on PC. Developers have been making games capable of running on multiple types of systems for decades. The thought of them incurring some kind of additional, astronomical costs to take advantage of the Neo is foolish. In fact, the Neo will be closer (closer, not equal to, but closer) to more top end PC specs, meaning developers will be able to develop games for the Neo with less compromises. Theoretically, it could actually be easier to make a game for the Neo.
The biggest problem facing the still unannounced console is that this is mostly uncharted territory. Nintendo tried something similar with the New 3DS, but that platform offered a limited amount of exclusive games. The jury is still out on that handheld, but it still isn’t in the league of the likes of consoles. The Neo is a calculated risk to appeal to all those people asking for better visuals and higher frame rates. If this works, it sets a model for future generations to follow, a more PC like model. Yes you’re buying a new console in 2-3 years, if you so choose, but that is no different than upgrading your graphics card, a decidedly more expensive prospect, or deciding not to at the cost of visual fidelity. Like it or not, these consoles we always about getting closer to PC, both in terms of visuals and ease of development. Consoles still offer a level of simplicity over their more configurable cousins, but they just can’t keep up in terms of technology. Just like with PC, we’ll now have the options for better looking games or cheaper hardware, whatever best suits our needs. No one is being cheated, no one is being betrayed, this is the nature of the beast.
The most important take away of all is the fact that other than the documents making their way across the internet, we still haven’t heard the final word from Sony. Until then, everything is still speculation. Let’s hold our final judgement until after they confirm the Neo and give us the details straight from their mouth. If then you still want to hate them because you feel in some way betrayed, then that is your business. Ultimately, when compared to the prospect of completely new hardware, a PS5 or something along those lines, the Neo is the better plan at this point.