Those of us eagerly awaiting the PS5 might be surprised to learn that the next console to come from Sony will in fact be the 4K PlayStation 4.5, which is expected to arrive in September. We reveal all there is to know about the next PlayStation UK release date and specs. Also see: PS4 vs Xbox One.
Last updated to include confirmation that the PlayStation 4 Neo won't be launching at GamesCom 2016, and was previously updated to include comments from Sony claiming that the PS4 Neo will not 'replace' the PS4 and a fourth rumour suggesting a 2016 release date.
Very little is known about the PlayStation 5, which isn't surprising given that its launch is likely years rather than months away, but in this article we'll discuss the rumours and speculation surrounding the PS5 and see what details we can glean. We also delve into the PS4.5 rumours, which looks to be a mid-generation upgrade possibly offering enhanced graphics performance and 4K output.
Sony confirmed that the PlayStation 4.5 Neo is real only days before it was due to take the stage at E3 2016, while also confirming that we wouldn't be getting a glimpse of it at E3 2016. Sony Interactive president Andrew House told The Financial Times "It is intended to sit alongside and compliment the standard PS4" and that "we will be selling both [versions] through the life cycle."
The PS4.5 Neo will offer a full 4K output and offer increased graphical power, although detailed specifics are yet to be announced – we speculate what it could feature in the section below, based on recent rumours. It will be compatible with current PS4 games, and most upcoming PS4 games will support the upgraded console going forward. It'll cost more than the current machine costs, but House is being tight-lipped on pricing at this moment in time.
Check out the new Xbox One S, the PS4 Neo's main rival unveiled during Microsoft's E3 2016 presentation.
Podcast discussion: PlayStation vs Xbox & PS 4.5 Neo
PS4 NEO/PS4.5 Neo rumours: What to expect from the PS4.5
The next console coming from Sony will be the 4K PlayStation 4.5, not the PS5 as originally thought. The PS4.5 is said to be more suited to incredibly graphics-heavy games and the likes of VR, with better performance and 4K support. We assume that the upgraded internals of the mid-generation upgrade will negate the need for the secondary box to power the PlayStation VR headset, a requirement for current PS4 owners.
It's expected to launch during September's Tokyo Games Show, according to VRWorld – more on that below.
According to Giant Bomb, the project known internally as NEO will feature a higher clock speed than the original PS4, an improved GPU, and higher bandwidth on the memory. It says NEO will have eight Jaguar CPU cores running at 2.1GHz rather than the 1.6GHz in the PS4, an improved AMD GCN with 36 rather than 18 CUs running at the higher rate of 911MHz over 800MHz, and faster GDDR5 memory – 8GB at 218GB/s instead of 176GB/s.
Giant Bomb also says the hard drive is different to that in the PS4, but it's not yet clear whether it will be higher in capacity or have a faster connection speed. We hope that the PS4.5 will feature faster Wi-Fi capabilities too, but this is unconfirmed at this stage.
Fortunately for those who don't want to upgrade to the PS4.5, the console will not be getting its own games or exclusive features, according to the site. From October every PS4 game will come with a "base" mode and a "NEO" mode, making it compatible with either console. Players will be able to keep the games bought on PS4, and although the NEO supports 4K, the games won't have to.
Interestingly, the rival Xbox One S console also boasts a 4K output, but it doesn't relate to 4K games – instead, the console is set to offer 4K video playback and nothing more. Will this be the case for the PS4 Neo too? While we hope that the Neo will bring glorious 4K gaming to our 4K TV, we assume that it'll take the same route as the Xbox One S and offer 4K video playback and nothing more. Let's be honest, a graphics card capable of 4K gameplay is probably more expensive than the entire PS4 right? We'll find out for definite sooner or later though.
But why release a new PlayStation 4 at all? According to one source described as a "chief technical officer working in the industry", the current PlayStation 4 may not offer the best experience for those looking to buy a PlayStation VR headset, due out in October 2016. IBTimes reports that a feature in the latest issue of 'Edge' quotes the source as saying "PSVR was going to be terrible on a [launch] PS4. It was going to be truly awful. Something a bit more powerful starts to bring VR into range. If you want to deal with crazy requirements for performance in VR, you absolutely have to do this."
This was followed by a note from an anonymous lead designer from a European developer, adding "There hasn't been a real outcry for more power, apart from developers making VR stuff – and those are weighted more heavily at the moment. VR is the most exciting development in the industry right now, and if it's here to stay then there will be a lot of demand for more powerful hardware."
However, global head of marketing and sales at Sony, Jim Ryan, disagrees with the rumours and reassured PS4 gamers that all PSVR demos, like those at E3 2016, use a standard PS4 and not the PS4.5 'Neo'. Instead, Ryan tells prospective PSVR users and critics alike to use the headset for themselves and then make their minds up.
"Go to our room and check out the VR games and make up your own mind,” he told MCV at E3. “That’s for you and others to decide upon. We are completely confident that the line-up of 50 games – plus some of which was announced yesterday, which was serious in terms of heavyweight IP – that those games are going to provide a first class VR experience. What we can say is that we have a fertile ground of 40m PS4s, all of which will run PlayStation VR."
Weeks later, PlayStation Worldwide Studios boss Shuhei Yoshida confirmed that the PS4 Neo isn't a PS4 replacement, and that consumers had nothing to worry about. Speaking to German games website Gameswelt.tv, Yoshida claimed that the arrival of the Neo wouldn't shorten the life-cycle of the current PS4, nor would it devalue or kill off the platform. "PS4 is PS4" he said simply. "The new high-end PS4 is still PS4, so you know the lifecycle is not going to be shorter."
Whatever the reason for developing a more powerful PlayStation 4, we won't have much longer to wait until it's announced – see below for more information. Giant Bomb suggests the PS4.5 NEO is likely to go on sale at $399, with UK pricing still unclear at this time.
PS4 NEO/PS4.5 Neo UK release date: When is the PS4.5 coming out?
According to the Wall Street Journal, we should expect an announcement before PlayStation VR's release on 13 October, with the PS4.5 hitting shop shelves before Christmas.
As well as this, French game distributor Innelec Multimedia has gone on the record stating that the PS4.5 will launch either just before, or during October 2016. According to the financial report released by the company, a new piece of hardware referred to only as "Neo 4K" (the code name given to the PS4.5) should arrive during the first half of the current financial year, which runs from June to October 2016.
Unbelievably, that's not all – according to a Giant Bomb report, every PS4 game that launches from October 2016 onward will require native support for both the launch edition of the PS4 and the unannounced PS4.5 Neo. Games released in late-September will also require a post-launch patch to make them compatible with the PS4.5. While a single rumour like this can be brushed off fairly easily, a number of different sources all claiming that the next console will launch within the same rough window seems, to us at least, that the PS4.5 Neo will be launching at some point between September-October 2016.
But why wasn't the PS4.5 Neo shown off at E3 2016, where many assumed it'd take the spotlight and go head to head with the Xbox One S? Speaking to MCV at E3 2016, Jim Ryan, global head of marketing and sales explained that Sony had a "pure story" to tell about software, and that announcing new hardware would've detracted from the game announcements.
“We had such a strong and, I’d say, pure story about games,” Ryan said. “You are not alone in making the comment – and I think it is a legitimate comment – about only just getting going on the games side of things on PS4. I think that needed to be addressed and by focusing exclusively on the games last night, hopefully we have laid that to bogey to rest."
“We did disclose some high level principles in that FT piece for the thing we call codename Neo. In terms of the very public articulation of it on a stage, we really want to be ready and be able to demonstrate it properly and all of that. So we will do that when we are ready, when we can show it properly.”
Following the confirmation of the existance of the PS4.5 Neo, another report, this time from Eurogamer's Richard Leadbetter claims that "several sources have indicated [to me] that PlayStation Neo launches this year, despite its E3 no-show". Now from anybody else we'd be slightly sceptical, but considering it was Leadbetter that confirmed the codename and spec of the PS4.5 Neo way before Sony's confirmation, we think his sources are legitimate and may well be truthful. That's four separate reports of a 2016 launch date, which is too much of a coincidence to ignore.
With rumours still claiming a 2016 release date is on the cards despite the E3 no-show, gamers had their hopes set on a potential GamesCom 2016 reveal. GamesCom 2016 is another hugely popular game convention hosted in Cologne, Germany every year, and features many of the developers that attend E3 often with more gameplay/trailers to show off to excited fans. This made it an ideal location for Sony to launch its upgraded PS4, but that now seems unlikely.
Why? The list of companies attending GamesCom 2016 has been announced, and much like last year, Sony isn't attending, which brings the chances of an August 2016 reveal down to practically zero percent. However don't let this dishearten you, as we're most likely going to see the upgraded console revealed during the Tokyo Game Show this September, or Paris Games Week in October (according to rumours anyway!).
As with the rest of the article, we'll update this section with the latest information as soon as we recieve it.
Sony PlayStation 5: Will there be a PS5?
With the release of PlayStation Now many have speculated that physical consoles are a thing of the past. PlayStation Now is a cloud-based gaming service that lets you play PS3 games on the PS4, PS Vita and Bravia TVs, while support for non-Sony and -PlayStation devices will come later. It's a bit like Netflix, but for games rather than films.
Yet we still think there will be a PS5. Not only does the PS4 bring in a huge amount of profit, Sony boss Shuhei Yoshida has been quoted as saying the future of the PlayStation is up to developers. Indeed, if rumours are to be believed it's about to launch two new PS4 models in 2015, so it won't be turning its back on the platform anytime soon.
"If they still feel that we need more machine power – 'we want to realise this and that and that, but we cannot do it with the PS4' – there's a good reason to have the PS5 so developers can create their vision," said Yoshida.
The PS4 is immensely powerful but, unlike the thousands of gaming PCs with which it competes, Sony's console doesn't benefit from the possibility of regular processor and graphics updates. One day we will reach the stage where the PS4 is notably inferior to PCs, and then game developers will demand more power. Also see: PS4 vs Xbox One vs gaming PCs and Best gaming PCs 2016.
Plus, with PlayStation Now Sony will be able to keep customers happy by allowing them to continue using their PS4 games on a new PS5.
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Sony PlayStation 5: Potential PS5 UK release date
It's been 20 years since the first PlayStation was released, and there were seven years between the launches of the PS3 and PS4. That was the longest stretch, with the PS2 appearing five years three months after the PS1, and the PS3 six years eight months after the PS2. It's fairly safe to say Sony doesn't follow a strict pattern with its console releases.
Games consoles are naturally long-lifecycle products, with customers investing considerable expense in both the platform and its proprietary titles. However, Sony is reportedly working on shorter timeframes between its PlayStation launches – at least that's the impression given by AMD, which manufactured the hardware powering the PS4.
CFO Devinder Kumar, speaking at the Bank of America Merrill Lynch Global Technology Conference, said AMD had made a real impact with the release of the PS4 in 2013. Around 2016, he added, AMD would again be a very different company. Although he may not have been referring specifically to a new console release from Sony, such devices are extremely profitable to AMD and it is always thinking about what's coming next.
"Three years before you introduce a product a decision is made to use a particular company. In this case it was AMD. Then you co-develop the product with funding dollars, mostly coming from our customers. When you introduce the product there are no R&D, sales and marketing expenses – however many dollars you generate fall to the bottom line, and that’s what excites us," said Kumar.
Earlier this year Sony's software product development head Scott Rhode told MTV: "Very soon we'll start thinking about what we'll do next. That's the culture at Sony. We always have to do something that's bigger and better than what's already been done."
Sony UK boss Fergal Gara added that "It's probably a sign of the times and how much has changed in seven years, but I think the willingness and the appetite to pick up new technology fast has probably changed quite a bit." For the next few years, though, he said Sony will be putting its weight behind the PS4.
So, rather than waiting another seven years for the PS5, which would peg its launch in 2020, the fast-paced development of technology could mean the PS5 rears its head much sooner – but could it really be as soon as 2016? We suspect that even if Sony is able to shorten the time between its PlayStation releases, we'll still be waiting until at least 2018 before the PS5 becomes a realistic option.
Of course, we'll update this article as soon as more concrete details on the PS5 release date are available. Also see: Best games consoles 2015.
Sony PlayStation 5: PS5 design
Concept images of the PS5 have already popped up on the web, including those used to illustrate this article (courtesy of David Hansson). We suspect it will retain the black box, blue light theme, but will be sleeker and more stylish than before. And if PlayStation Now is able to let it do away with discs, it could even be more compact too.
Sony PlayStation 5: PS5 specs
As you might expect, very little is known about the PS5's hardware. Going by AMD's enthusiasm over the PS4, we can only assume it will remain onboard the Sony ship for the PS5.
Something else that might become a 'thing' with the PS5 is virtual reality. Project Morpheus, a virtual-reality system that works with PS4, suggests Sony is looking in this direction for future consoles. Such technology should allow for truly immersive gameplay, allowing you to really feel as though you are in the game.
And PlayStation TV may also be important to the PS5's development. Could we see this wireless streaming functionality built into the PS5?
It's possible that PlayStation Now will allow Sony to remove the optical drive, although some sort of provision for offline gaming – perhaps a flash storage drive – would be necessary. Not everyone in the UK has constant – if any – access to super-fast broadband.
Again, we'll update this article as more details become available.
Sony PlayStation 5: PS5 UK price
Without knowing exactly what's on offer, it's impossible to accurately predict how much the PS5 will cost. With the PS2 costing £300, the PS3 £425 and the PS4 £349, we can only assume Sony will stick around the £400 mark. After all, it has other consoles and gaming PCs with which to compete.
Also see: The future of gaming – why games consoles are set to die.
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