The PS4 Neo is expected to debut during a special PlayStation event on Sept. 7, and there are countless ways that the reveal of Sony’s high-spec console could go horribly wrong. Here are just five mistakes that could easily create a PR nightmare.
1) High Base Price: It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that, in the console market, pricing is everything. As we saw with the slouching sales of Sony’s $599-dollar PS3, consumers only have so much money to spend on new hardware. With the Neo’s mentioned premium nature, Sony might be tempted to inflate its retail cost, but that simply cannot happen.
The reality is, PlayStation Neo should sell for no more than $500 and should probably be more in the $400 range if possible. Currently, the standard PS4 is $350 and Xbox One can still be found for as low as $250 in some locations. The larger the differential between those reliable skus, the less attractive the Neo will appear.
2) Underpowered Specs: Equally as important to the Neo’s price is its final specs. Recent water-cooler discussions suggest that the Neo may be substantially less powerful than Microsoft’s Xbox One Scorpio that’s set to launch next year. In raw numbers, the Scorpio’s graphics processor is advertised to output six teraflops of power as opposed to Neo’s leaked 4.2 TF.
If that’s the reality, Sony is going to have a real perception issue on its hands. For the masses to invest in a brand new PS4, the Neo has to be sold as a reasonably cutting-edge device. That’s going to be quite the challenge if its final schematics don’t come close to what’s next for Xbox. All signs point to a power disadvantage now, and that’s a mistake given the PS4’s early spec supremacy.
3) Game Reveal Foibles: The PS4 Neo is hardware, but its reveal is obviously going to focus on game content as well. After all, consumers need to see what the next “God Of War,” “Red Dead” or “InFAMOUS” look like on the system before investing in one.
This setup creates a rather interesting marketing issue when considering the Neo has to exist alongside the standard PS4. How can these new Neo-flagship titles be properly showcased? One way is to show a side-by-side comparison of the regular and Neo versions, but that’s liable to make the loyal early adopters of PS4 feel like their $400 system is garbage. Not showing the regular PS4 build at all is possible too, but then the Internet rumor machine might start spinning speculation of Neo exclusivity and poor standard performance. There’s no great way to reveal games at this event.
4) Improper Messaging: We touched on this a bit in the last bullet, but it’s worth fleshing out. Both the PS4 Neo and Xbox One Scorpio present some obvious messaging difficulties. Mid-gen console upgrades are a totally new thing that was never anticipated when these consoles first launched three years ago. How do you introduce them in a way that early adopters don’t feel a bit hosed?
For the Neo specifically, Sony must try very hard to ensure existing PS4 players that their standard hardware will still be adequate for the next few years. Adding too many exclusive features or marketing the Neo as an absolutely necessary quantum leap is begging for backlash. Sony really needs to find a way to be gracious to hardcore PlayStation nation when bringing Neo on stage.
5) Leaning Too Heavily Into VR: With its improved specs, the Neo seemingly positions itself as the perfect companion for Sony’s PlayStation VR headset. It’s almost a guarantee that someone on stage will pair the two devices as a part of 2017’s ultimate PlayStation experience.
That being said, because VR is still very niche and expensive technology, it may be a mistake to lean too heavily into that as a selling point for Neo. To be as successful as its predecessor, the Neo has to feel like something that everybody can find a decent use for. It shouldn’t destroy the standard PS4, but it must have enough niche advantages that cater to several different crowds. VR evangelists are a passionate group, but they can’t sustain an entire console.
What do you think of the PS4 Neo? Will this high-spec PlayStation be a total disaster? Tell us in the comments section!