Sony is releasing a new PlayStation console this year. You may have heard of it. It’s coming on November 10, and it costs $399. Its 4.2 teraflops give it over two times the performance of the O.G. PS4 and recently-released slimline PS4.
If you ask some people, the PS4 Pro is a revelation, the final nail in Microsoft’s coffin, the device that will futher cement Sony as the leaders of the current gaming generation.
Some view the PS4 Pro as being immediately outdated, with Microsoft’s Xbox Scorpio bringing its 6 teraflops and promise of native 4K gaming, looming on the horizon a year away.
Others view it as a Blu-Ray player that inexplicably doesn’t play UHD Blu-Rays, that also happens to play games, too.
There’s some truth to all of those statements, but the real truth lies somewhere in the middle. The PS4 Pro is a device designed to greatly enhance the PlayStation experience. Gamers that are invested in the PS4 ecosystem will see some significant benefits should they pick up a PS4 Pro. The standard PS4 will be just fine, but you’ll get a better experience on the Pro. With that being said, one of the most difficult things is determining what, exactly, the PS4 Pro competes with. Does it compete with Xbox? What about PC? Or is Sony basically competing against themselves at this juncture?
The Xbox One S Comparison
There is a school of thought that says the PS4 Pro will compete with the Xbox One S. After all, the Xbox One S is an upgraded Xbox One. It is a fine machine that features a UHD Blu-Ray player, integrated IR blaster, and HDR compatibility for streaming media and select games. In order to acheive this functionality, Microsoft gave the Xbox One S a small power boost that has the side-effect of slightly increasing performance in some Xbox One games. And it will be vying for space on store shelves and in consumers’ living rooms this holiday season along with the PS4 Pro. The Xbox One S is the most powerful Xbox currently available…Why not compare it to the most powerful PS4?
However, I personally do not believe the PS4 Pro and Xbox One S compete for two reasons: price and power.
The Xbox One S has 1.3 teraflops of performance and starts at $299 for a 500 GB bundle that includes a game or two. The PS4 Pro has 4.2 teraflops and starts at $399 for a 1 TB console. The differences in performance and starting price point between the PS4 Pro and Xbox One S are simply too vast for them to be considered direct competitors to one another.
Rather, I feel that the Xbox One S competes more directly with the current PS4 slim, due to their similar specs and pricing.
Microsoft certainly shook up the industry this year at E3 when they announced their next Xbox, codenamed Project Scorpio. Microsoft claims that this beast of a console will be able to leverage its 6 teraflops to provide native 4K gaming. The console is scheduled to launch in time for the holiday shopping season in 2017, so it’s still a ways off, but it is still worth mentioning here.
The Scorpio creates a similar scenario to the one above, only with role reversal; at the launch of the Xbox Scorpio, Microsoft will be the one with the significantly more powerful console (6 teraflops in the Scorpio compared to the PS4 Pro’s 4.2). However, those 6 teraflops likely won’t come cheap: I would expect the Xbox Scorpio to start at $500 minimum, although it may very well cost even more. This, again, creates a divide in performance and price, to the point where the PS4 Pro and Xbox Scorpio likely won’t be competitors.
Another view is that the Scorpio will be so powerful and expensive in comparison to current hardware that it will effectively start the next console generation, rather than compete in the current one. Microsoft has neither confirmed or denied these suspicions, but it doesn’t seem too far-fetched, does it? Sony was very up-front in stating that the PS4 Pro exists in the current console generation as an extension of the PS4 experience.
For these reasons, I do not believe that the Xbox Scorpio is a PS4 Pro competitor.
Can the PS4 Pro capture the PC market?
The PC guys that I follow on Twitter are laughing their collective you-know-whats off at this, but according to Sony, the PS4 Pro is designed to compete with PC.
Sony isn’t trying to lure current PC gamers to the PlayStation brand. The master race faithful love their freedom, flexibility of control options, and the superior technical quality of games on PC compared to console. Sure, many PC gamers also own a PS4 to play exclusives, but they won’t be ditching their rigs any time soon.
Sony isn’t trying to attract current PC gamers. They’re trying to stop current PS4 gamers from jumping to PC and leaving Sony behind. The train of thought is that, since PC gaming hardware advances more rapidly than console hardware, gamers are more likely to switch from console to PC mid-gen to take advantage of the upgraded hardware present on PC. Sony thinks the PS4 Pro can stop that. Instead of investing in PC hardware components and building a PC, you buy this one simple $399 box. You get a nice upgrade, and Sony keeps you as a customer in the PlayStation ecosystem.
Seems legit, right? But let’s think about PC gaming: what are its advantages? Freedom, flexibility of control options, superior graphics and performance, rapid hardware advancements, etc. Even as a longtime console gamer and PlayStation fan, I admit that Sony can’t keep up in that regard. PC gaming is an entirely different beast than console, and people game on PC (or switch to PC) for those advantages…advantages that no current console, PS4 Pro included, can provide.
Despite what Sony says, the PC is not a competitor to the PS4 Pro.
What about Nintendo’s upcoming NX console? The fact of the matter is, it is too early to say whether or not the NX will compete with the PS4 Pro. It’s believed to have a similar amount of power as the current PS4 and Xbox One, which would disqualify it from a pure performance standpoint. Furthermore, what is it? Is it a handheld? Standard console? Both? How much will it cost? Nintendo has a lot of questions to answer (and not a lot of time left to answer them)…until they do, it is hard to say whether or not the NX will be direct competition for the PS4 Pro. If the Wii U is any indication, it likely won’t be.
Conclusion: The PS4 Pro has no competition
The only logical conclusion here is the PS4 Pro has no competition.
That isn’t a fanboy statement meaning that the PS4 Pro will be so dominant it will literally obliterate everything else. It means that, because of its power, price, and release date, it is genuinely difficult to find a direct competitor to the PS4 Pro that is truly apples-to-apples.
The Xbox One S is too weak and inexpensive in comparison.
The Xbox Scorpio is too powerful and expensive in comparison.
PC has advantages that consoles cannot replicate, the PS4 Pro included.
The NX is still too mysterious and too much of a wildcard, to draw any conclusions yet.
Honestly, who is the biggest competitor to the PS4 Pro right now? Sony themselves.
In a move that some find exciting and others find perplexing, Sony is bombarding us with a lot of hardware in a pretty narrow timeframe.
At the holiday shopping season, Sony will have the PS4 slim, PSVR, and PS4 Pro all on shelves. The original PS4 will still be floating around as an attractive low-cost option as a used console. How will the PS4 Pro fit in, and how will Sony mange all of this hardware existing within the same generation at the same time? I think they can do it, and I definitely think the PS4 Pro will be successful and a worthwhile upgrade for PlayStation gamers. As with most things, the answer will be revealed in time.
What do you think Brahs? Let us know in the comments!