Sony's upcoming 4K PlayStation 4 is codenamed NEO, and will boast better processor speed, memory bandwidth, and graphics capabilities than the standard PS4 available now, Giant Bomb reports. From October, publishers will be required to ship PS4 games with both a "base" mode for play on the regular PS4 console, and a "Neo" mode that can take advantage of hardware upgrades to increase graphical quality and boost frame rates. The upgraded console is said to be capable of outputting in 4K resolutions, but Giant Bomb cites documents that apparently say that games don't have to be 4K native.
The existence of the upgraded console — often colloquially called the "PS4.5" — was rumored last month. Sony has yet to confirm that the project is in the works, but the reports indicated that it would see release before the company released its PS VR headset in October, the increased power from the "PS4.5" making it easier to run hardware-intensive VR games on the console. The codenames would certainly fit, with the Neo to PS VR's "Morpheus," but that upgraded hardware won't mean that PS4 Neo owners get exclusive VR modes, though — Giant Bomb says games must have peripheral parity, so if a title doesn't offer VR support in its "base" iteration, it won't do in its Neo version either.
PS4 games will reportedly need to have "base" and "Neo" modes
That move is one of several that Sony is reportedly making to keep PS4 and PS4 Neo owners on an even keel. The company's documentation reportedly states that there will be no Neo-only games, owners of both versions of the console will continue to use the same PlayStation Store, and publishers are barred from offering special features or downloadable content to owners of one type of console. Crucially, players of both the original PS4 and PS4 Neo and will be able to play alongside each other on PlayStation Network.
Older games can be upgraded with Neo capabilities with patches
Games released in October will need to have a Neo mode, but publishers and developers will also be able to upgrade their older games through patches, theoretically making them run better on the newer hardware. Games released in late September will need to have a day-one patch ready to go that brings them up to Neo level. Giant Bomb specifies that although October is the point at which the new Neo rules will come in, the updated console may not be released by then, simply that games must be ready for its arrival.
No price has been locked in for the new PS4 yet, but previous reports indicated it would retail for $399 — the original price of the "base" PS4. An upgraded console is expected to drive this down further, giving consumers the choice between the cheaper, older console, and the newer-but-more-expensive Neo. For gamers, this approach seems fair, but the advantages higher framerates offer in some competitive games might force multiplayer-oriented gamers toward the new console. For others happy with their existing console, the rules reported this week shouldn't split the community, making the Neo a luxury purchase for those invested in either VR or 4K, rather than a necessary one for all players.