After Sony confirmed Neo’s existence just before E3, the company then chose to keep quiet about the new console throughout the expo. Since then however, rumors have been swirling while Sony has tried to clarify its motivation behind iterating within the console cycle for the first time.
Yesterday, the Wall Street Journal published an analyst quote surmising a September announcement for the Neo, along with the possible announcement of a “PS4 Slim.” The analyst mentioned an “industry show” in his quote, likely referring to the Tokyo Game Show that takes place in September. In addition to these rumors, PlayStation head Andrew House spoke up at yesterday’s Sony Investor Day to assuage consumer fears about the device. While this is a new step for the console industry, House reiterated that all PS4 games will work across both consoles.
From my perspective, it seems like the Neo is Sony’s way of testing the market’s willingness to accept a console platform no longer separated by generational leaps. While there will likely still be a point of no return, after which new games will no longer run on the older hardware iterations, this could be a great way for Sony (and Microsoft for that matter) to elongate the console cycle. It’s a strategy that could help to keep R&D costs down for themselves with hardware as well as for their publishing partners who would previously have had to invest in new, more powerful game engines in order to release games to the small initial install base on a new platform. While it may mean a small amount of additional work for developers supporting multiple iterations within the ecosystem, it could also mean more cost stability across the board for publishers.
With any luck, we’ll find out which of these rumors are true and which are false sooner rather than later…