The PlayStation 4 has been a raging success for Sony with more than 37 million consoles sold since its November 2013 release, which is why rumors of a console update seem a bit odd. Yet, the PS4K is very much a reality, according to media outlets citing multiple sources within Sony and video game studios. Nobody is quite sure about the capabilities of the PS4K, or PS4.5, but consumers should not expect to find one on store shelves any time soon.
Reports of a new Sony console first surfaced at the gaming site Kotaku, with Eurogamer confirming those reports through its own sources. Both outlets agreed Sony’s main focus was not to eliminate the blockbuster PS4 but to establish a console for 4K television sets, with four times as many pixels as 1080p high-definition TVs.
In a video published Sunday, Digital Foundry reiterated the PS4K was in development within Sony, but that the console was still in the prototype stage. Developers have not received PS4K development kits that would let them work on the console.
Even within Sony, the existence of the PS4K was largely unknown until the first reports were published, according to Digital Foundry. The available PS4 console features some support of 4K, or ultrahigh definition (UHD), but it does not have the capability to stream Netflix 4K or UHD Blu-ray titles. A PS4K would have the necessary HDMI 2.0 cable, UHD Blu-ray player and processor capable of handling the 4K upgrade. The enhancements would not stop with video, as graphics would be given an upgrade with the more powerful hardware.
There are cost and technical constraints that prevent the PS4K from being a potential successor to the PS4. Better graphics would require more memory, which is expensive and the technology is not proven enough for wide deployment in 2016. Sony would have to address the concerns of compatibility as shutting out the 40 million PS4 owners from the PS4K, and vice versa, would doom the console now in the works. At present, the best-case scenario is for the PS4K to produce some enhancements in graphics associated with a comparatively minor upgrade in processing power and support for 4K, but even that could be a hard sell considering the success of the PS4 and the forthcoming release of PlayStation VR indicating there is still a lot of life left in Sony’s current console.