We Needed Pro Consoles Once And Never Again

If the rumors are to be believed, a PS5 Pro is coming next September. Supposed upgrades will be focused on bridging the gap between performance and quality modes – standard options in most console games today – by improving ray tracing and upscaling in order to provide higher frame rate options. Today, gamers have to choose between 60fps or 4k, but in the PS5 Pro era, they may get to have their frames and see them in high resolution too.


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We also have heard rumors of a new, cylindrical Xbox Series X/S upgrade, but no particular release date has been leaked. The PS5 Pro may launch close to the four year anniversary of the base PS5’s release though, so it’s likely the new-and-improved Xbox won’t be far behind. I just have one question though: Why?

Let’s go back to 2016. The three-year-old PS4 is getting two upgraded consoles – the PS4 Slim and PS4 Pro – with some significant enhancements to its processor, GPU, network card, Bluetooth, RAM, and USB ports. To most console players, these are meaningless numbers, minor incremental upgrades that no one would know how to interpret, or what the benefit of them will be. The CPU got a boost in clock speed from 1.6GHz to 2.1GHz and the new GPU pushes 1.84 TFLOP. Isn’t that exciting? Doesn’t that make you want to spend $400 on a new PS4?

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The hardware upgrade was not the PS4 Pro’s selling point, though it’s easy to see how desperately it was needed. Late-gen PS4 games especially struggled to run on the launch PS4, which was an underpowered machine even when it launched in 2013 – Jaguar CPU architecture offered a big step up over the PS3 but paled in comparison to even the cheapest PC hardware at the time. But what actually made the PS4 Pro commercially viable was something much easier to market: 4K.

Between the launch of the PS4 and the upgraded models in 2016, 4K televisions became the new standard, and anyone who upgraded their TV in that time almost certainly upgraded to 4K. The base PS4 could only support 1080p though, making the PS4 Pro much easier to market. That’s the kind of plain English, direct to the point feature that people can see the value in – the kind of feature the PS5 Pro and new Xbox just won’t have.

via Pocket-lint

It seems like a lot of people are taking for granted that pro consoles should even exist. The PS4 Pro and Xbox One X/S were the first of their kind, and because they were successful and necessary, suddenly we should just expect mid-generation upgrades every time? Console generations were five to six years long for decades until the sixth gen, which saw the PS2 and original Xbox remain current for seven years. The PS4/Xbox One generation is the first one in the last eight years with a mid-gen upgrade in the middle. There’s no reason we couldn’t have the start of a new console generation in 2026, but instead, we’re going to have unnecessary Pro models in 2024, and no new console until 2028.

The PS4 Slim and Pro released nearly simultaneously and had similar upgrades, which won’t be the case with the PS5 Slim and (potential) Pro

Unfortunately for Sony and Microsoft, we haven’t all found the need to upgrade to 8K TVs in the years since the PS5 launched. That’s just a consequence of diminishing returns in tech, upgrades today don’t feel as profound as they used to. It makes even less sense for a PS5 Pro to exist than any PlayStation that came before, and it’s going to be difficult to sell people on the value of hardware upgrades they don’t even understand.

I’m sure the PS5 Pro will have some bells and whistles that will be easy for the average consumer to latch onto. It will have some kind of gimmick that people will be able to understand better than ‘60FPS mode w/Ray Tracing on’ – a thing that only chronically online people (me) care about. But whatever Sony and Microsoft come up with to sell these consoles, it won’t make them necessary. The only thing it will do is encourage casual players to wait for the compulsory refresh before upgrading their consoles, which might be the entire point. That might work out for these companies, but it’s a cynical way to treat your players.

Next: PS5 Pro Reportedly Aiming For September 2024 Release

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