Sony didn't show a new, more powerful PlayStation because it didn't have to. But it still had the best show at E3. PlayStation repeated its strategy from last year by focusing on the games. The event was filled with exciting trailers, relaunched classics, release dates for highly anticipated titles and a better look at what's going to come to its VR headset, which arrives in mere months. (And it was refreshingly short on small talk.) Sony played a smarter game than Microsoft.
Neo, aka the PlayStation 4.5, definitely exists. After the information leaked months earlier, Sony's Andrew House told the Financial Timesthat the console would eventually launch with the PS4 still in stores. The new hardware is "intended to sit alongside and complement the standard PS4." He also warned that it wouldn't be on display at E3.
The Neo will obviously be more powerful than the existing PlayStation, outputting games and video at 4K (if you have the television for it). The company also insists that all future games will still run on PS4 hardware. The Neo would be for the hard-core gamer while the original remains the (cheaper) console for everyone else.
When it came to PlayStation hardware announcements at E3, the company limited it to a release date for a very important incoming peripheral: The PlayStation VR lands on Oct. 13th. And the company spent plenty of time hyping up a whole raft of games for its new toy.
At its E3 presentation, PlayStation unveiled VR Star Wars, Batman and Resident Evil 7 -- as well as a Final Fantasy XV "experience," whatever that is. It's an attempt to draw fans of those properties to PSVR, which is important for both Sony and for virtual reality in general.
With an install base of over 40 million PS4s (and a lower price than the sort of PC you'd need for an HTC Vive or Oculus Rift), PSVR has the biggest chance of bringing virtual reality to the masses. Meanwhile, Xbox's VR strategy hasn't been spelled out explicitly. Microsoft is working with Oculus (it even had John Carmack onstage during its showcase), and HoloLens remains a completely different kind of product. (That's not to mention the confusing messaging surrounding its new Xbox consoles.) Where is Xbox VR or VR One? When is it coming? How much will it cost? PS VR starts at $400 and goes on sale in mere months. It's all known, and it's coming soon.
The company didn't need to add more noise by unveiling additional hardware. It would be crazy for Sony to try to pitch an upgraded PS4 at the same time as an accessory that costs as much as one. So it didn't. In the meantime, PlayStation owners get to play with PSVR and save up for this future console upgrade if they want it. All the while Sony will be watching and learning. Is virtual reality going to be the next big thing? Or will we all be content playing on our 4K TVs? All of that will help shape the PS4 Neo, when it does eventually show itself.
Correction: A previous version of this article marked PSVR's release date as October 17th, rather than 13th. We apologize for the error.
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