Sources: Sony Is Working On A ‘PlayStation 4.5’

Sources: Sony Is Working On A ‘PlayStation 4.5’

Sony is currently planning a new version of the PS4 with increased graphical power and games running at 4K resolution, developer sources tell Kotaku.

We don’t know whether current PS4 owners will be able to upgrade or if they will have to buy an entirely new device to benefit from this power boost, but from what we hear, Sony has started briefing developers.

Based on conversations with developers who have spoken with Sony, this ‘PS4.5’ will include an upgraded GPU both to support high-end 4K resolution for games and add more processing power that can enhance the games supported by PlayStation VR, the headset Sony will launch this spring. It’s unclear if ‘PS4.5’ is an official name or just a nickname that developers have been using. One developer jokingly called it the ‘PS4K’ while telling me about the device.

In layman’s terms, 4K resolution is around four times the pixel size of 1080p, which is the current standard for games on PlayStation 4 and competing consoles. The current PS4 can output 4K photos and videos, but cannot support 4K resolutions for games. With this upgrade, it would. Besides resolution, developers would have an opportunity to push more effects and other graphical tweaks to make their games look better, thanks to the new GPU.

A more powerful PS4 would also allow the machine to be more competitive with PCs in the world of virtual reality. With a higher-end GPU, the PS4 could more easily match up against the more expensive Oculus Rift and HTC Vive virtual reality headsets, which are designed to work with powerful PCs.

When contacted yesterday about this report, Sony declined to comment. “We can’t comment on rumours or speculation,” a spokesperson said in an email.

The circle of people who knew about this upgraded PS4 was small until recently. I first heard about the device from one trusted source, then two. Kotaku‘s Jason Schreier and Stephen Totilo were also able to independently verify the existence of these hardware plans with their own developer sources, although some of the details have been vague; one source told us that the device felt “exploratory” and that it may not even be released this year.

We’ve also heard that at this week’s Game Developers Conference in San Francisco, Sony held meetings with developers about the hardware and how it would work. As we were chasing down this story, coincidentally, Kotaku UK EIC Keza MacDonald overheard some developers casually talking about the machine while on line at GDC. They mentioned the name ‘PS4.5’ and discussed its increased horsepower, mentioning both 4K resolution and PlayStation VR.

Our sources aren’t sure when this upgraded machine will ship to consumers, nor how much it will cost. The PS4’s price dropped from $US400 to $US350 in the US and $549.95 to $479.95 in Australia last spring, and one source indicated that this new ‘PS4.5’ could let Sony keep selling PS4 hardware at a higher profit margin for $US400.

There are still lots of big questions surrounding the device. Will Sony allow people to trade in their existing PS4s to buy the new machine? How will developers cope with releasing games on multiple types of hardware? Could some games only support PS4.5, as is the case with the New Nintendo 3DS? When this PS4 goes on sale, will Sony continue to sell old PS4 hardware at a lower price? How can Sony manage all this without fragmenting the market?

Right now, we don’t have the answer to those questions.

The PS4.5 may not be alone, either.

I’ve heard whispers about an upgraded Xbox One for a while now, and Microsoft has been public about the possibility. At a press briefing earlier this month, Xbox head Phil Spencer hinted to journalists that his company has been exploring the possibility of evolving hardware. “We look at these other ecosystems out there like mobile, tablet and PC,” Spencer told the assembled press, as reported by Polygon, “and we see that they have a very continuous evolution cycle in hardware, whereas between console generations most of the evolution is making it cheaper and potentially making it smaller.”

Spencer later walked back those comments while speaking on the Major Nelson podcast, pouring some water on the idea of a customisable, PC-like Xbox. “Am I going to break open my console and start upgrading individual pieces of my console? That’s not our plan,” he said. “There is something special about what happens with a console. You buy an appliance-like device; you plug it into your TV; it works when you plug it in. It’s not like I’m going to ship a screwdriver set with every console that comes out.”

Plans are always changing, and some of the details we’ve heard are fuzzy, but one thing has become clear: Sony is exploring the possibility of releasing a more powerful console way before the PlayStation 5. With both Sony and Microsoft possibly entering new territory, and Nintendo’s NX on the way, this should be an exciting year for gaming hardware no matter what comes next.

Additional reporting contributed by Keza MacDonald, Stephen Totilo and Jason Schreier.

Illustration by Sam Woolley


  • Buying a PS4 was a pretty big deal for me; I hope it doesn’t become redundant already!

    • Does it feel like it will?

      I still like mine. It’s a great machine. I don’t have a 4k TV anyway and I’m not planning on getting into VR so i’m curious to see if there’d be any benefit for someone like me to upgrade.

      A smoother framerate on Witcher 3 would be nice!

      • I’m the same re not intending to upgrade to a 4k TV or VR, but I really couldn’t justify a new console regardless. Knowing my luck all the great new games would be “required PS4.5 to play” :s

        • buy a whole new console will be the bad move of Sony, I think they might be unlock last cpu core for ps4 (8 in total) and if it still not enough they can use the cloud power just like Microsoft intend to do with xbone.

          • I suspect a large part of it would be to increase GPU memory to run 4k, or VR res/framerate.

            I’m sure there will be an increase in processing power to compensate the jump and hopefully support higher frame rates for VR too.

            All that said, I don’t think you have to worry about missing out if you don’t upgrade; I think it’ll mainly be to support the VR if it’s aimed at games, and I assume they would place restrictions on Devs so they have to support the ‘standard’ PS4 too, and not just the ‘faster one’ – otherwise it’ll be a disaster.

          • They can’t unlock the last core, as that is what the OS is running on. Xbone and PS4 both came out with the OS running on 2 cores until they could refine their programming and overhead. Adding the 8th core could add stability issues and performance problems.

  • 4k on a console?
    Don’t make me laugh, they can barely achieve 1080p at standard frame-rates.

    This will either be priced twice or three times the amount of the regular PS4 or they’re talking out of their arse.

    • Most likely it is 4K Bluray playback they are talking about, and scaling support for 4K.

    • Totally agree.. i dont think it will be anything like people expect, if it does add 4k gaming – i expect it to be like 720p/1080p upscaled to 4k. There is no way a console of that size/price can handle 4k.

  • I highly doubt 4k gaming is coming to a PS4.5. It struggles to do 1080p/60. 4k gaming won’t be a console thing until the PS6.

    • Are there that many people out there with 4k TVs yet anyway? I haven’t noticed any great stampede to upgrade. There’s not exactly a huge amount of content, although maybe my perception is due to living in Australia where the idea of streaming 4k video is like some kind of fairytale.

        • Do you live in the exchange, and is it made from gold and candy? I live across the road from my exchange, and the bastard is so congested I only get 12-14meg down.

          • That’s about all I get, not sure where exchange is. Sometimes it can take few minutes to get up to 4K

          • I suppose Netflix is pretty heavily compressed. Other per item rental services can struggle with higher bitrate 1080p for me.

          • I haven’t tried any others is there any with 4K content I wouldn’t mind a trial

          • I think Netflix and YouTube are the only 4k services available to Australians right now. Geododging is another matter, then you have the Sony store and a few others. Back on topic, that’s another strength of Sony turning the PS4 into a 4k streaming box, they already have a 4k movie/TV store available that they own all the content in.

      • That, and as much as 4K tv’s look good – they really dont add anything. I had issues getting native 4K on my last two tvs with a HTPC connected. Took them back for a 1080p projector – havent regretted it one bit

        Also, who wants to buy all the content in 4K for a 3rd time? (Dvd -》bluray -》4K bluray).

        4K is only really worth it once your into extremly large tv sizes and its too soon i think, especially since 8K is already a standard and coming..

        • Bluray sales are pretty bad already compared to DVD for that reason, but I feel like people might jump on 4k media with more interest than 1080p given the “wow” factor of how gorgeous it looks, combined with how much more difficult it is to stream, and that so many have already skipped that 1080p generation as far as content goes.

  • Probably just a PS4 slim that at most can play 4K blu ray movies, or perhaps has the PSVR processing box built into it (and comes bundled with PSVR).

    • Man if that thing is true it had better be god damn incredible, because it looks friggen dumb as shit.

      Though it was missing the prongs present in the patent image so that leads me to believe that it was an oversight by the person constructing the fake. Or is that hope?

  • I think this is actually closer to what Phil Spencer had in mind when he was talking about upgradable consoles. My first thought when he started talking about it was the idea of an Xbox One-and-a-Half, so it’s not all together unexpected that Sony would be thinking along the same lines.

    • I think this is a wild goose chase. I think this is the planning stages of the PS5 mistaken to be an upgrade. I think it will be a sort of an upgrade, but I think the PS4 needs more breathing room.

      Despite the elitist mentality of continuously pushing hardware to match the software, I think sometimes we need the software to catch up to hardware. Unfortunately the latter isn’t governed by Moore’s law.

      I only see the very beginning of this from what I see out of just the first parties. I think there’s at least a few more titles to go before they reach that level of polish and competency they showed at the end of the last generation.

      What’s the point of having so many first parties if not even all of them have yet released their first game.

      • It’s weird isn’t it? We got what, 7 years out of the PS3? Everyone I know is impressed by the PS4’s performance and already they’re talking about upgrading?

        I think it’s to do with the extra requirements of VR. And it’s yet to be seen if that takes off or turns into another 3d TV type thing.

        • Yeah. We still need at least 3 games out of Naughty Dog before the fat lady sings. They must have just gotten their game engine warmed up. VR is just going to have to put up with a little restraint come up with creative solutions until then.

  • Seems a bit pointless. The PS4 will be 3 years old this year anyway. Leaving aside the last prolonged generation, the cycle usually runs about 5 years, so why not just wait 2 more years and do a proper PS5?

    Perhaps they’re testing the waters with a shorter cycle similar to phones? Not sure I really want that with my consoles.

    • I definitely do NOT want that. Yes my PS3 was showing it’s age at the end. And then TLOU came out!

      If consoles become like phones, shit is gonna get crazy. But it’s always the users choice whether to upgrade or not. I guess if it means more powerful systems and more choice then it’s a good thing. It’s just weird when we’re all used to the generation cycle.

      • The last time we got pumped with consoles on the market there was a video game crash.

      • I doubt PS5 is anywhere on the schedule yet. All the previous talk about life cycle that I’ve seen said they wanted try get 10 years out of it.

        The current stuff would be a PS 4.1 type of thing, to add memory and processing power for VR and ‘maybe’ 4k output. Devs would still work towards making their stuff work on Stock PS4’s; they’d be crazy not too.

    • To me, the idea and the value of a gaming console to the entire industry is that it lays out the most fundamental technologies in a fixed and accessible package and it stays that way long enough for you to make a few games.
      This is actually the very thing PC ecosystem fails in.
      If the PS5 is reverse compatible, they can certainly introduce one earlier than the last generation, but just releasing one every now and then or even offering hardware upgrades would defeat the purpose.

  • No big deal to me, it’s not like mid-life updates to a console have never happened before.

    As long as all games are still regular PS4 compatible. A lot of PS4 owners are right now looking at the VR, which is around the cost of a newly-released console itself, if they limit games to a THIRD major piece of hardware (after normal PS4 and VR), that will not go down well.

  • I’d buy both the ps4.5 and an upgraded x1 in a heartbeat. After using both since the start of the gen, both consoles are underpowered.

      • As a PC gamer primarily I would be likely to buy an Upgraded PS4 to play exclusives like Uncharted at frame rates closer to what I’m used to.

      • One reason? Problem shooting in a PC is such a pain. Consoles are so easy in comparison.

        • Not so much anymore. I had a nightmare trying to update a PS4, after massive user error. Sony had the wrong update on their site, it had to be in a special directory tree to even find the update (only thing on the USB drive) and it still wiped all the settings despite saying it wouldn’t.

          I don’t know what the User did to prevent it auto-updating but he somehow bricked the machine by refusing to update every time the game asked him for a OS update and game update. But it was nearly a case of your PS4 is only 1 month old, let’s take it back to JB Hifi.

          Now I can’t speak for the PS4, but why doesn’t the XB1 at least have a time estimate for Downloads when even Nintendo has a estimate on the Wii U? Is it because telling me my day 1 patch will take 6 hours to install before I can play my new game something of a negative.

      • Doing that too. I already have a gaming capable pc (i7-4790+4Gb-GTX770+16Gb), but for the gf and I to play together we need to build another one.

        The main reasons I still game on consoles:
        1. Most (90%+) of my friends still choose consoles for the vast majority of their gaming. My favorite gaming experiences (so far, 25 years of gaming) are playing games with my irl friends.
        2. When I do play competitive games I prefer to play on console. Even grounds, you know? I don’t have to worry about that sniper thats too far out to draw on my screen because of draw distance on said snipers insane rig (happened in planetside 2). Generally less hackers and cheaters and it’s easy to report and block the ones that make it through the cracks.
        3. “porque no los dos”. Why would I restrict what I can and can’t play based on platform? I enjoy many xbox exclusives and several playstation exclusives and see no reason to impose needless restrictions on myself because of “demz grafikz”. While I enojy playing games at a high frame rate and games truly do look best on pc, Im honestly not fussed.

        There are other, less reasonable reasons that I choose to be platform agnostic, but those are probably the biggest 3.

        So I already am invested in Steam and Origin, XBL and PSN. I will be building another rig and getting a new card (or 2) for the old one. To be honest I just want to play with my irl friends and I’ll just play where they are…

  • They should focus on 1080p at 60fps where the quality is similar to a pc at high settings. Don’t worry about 4k yet considering that it takes a monster pc to get playable fps. The ps4 is a great console but I would have preferred to pay 900 for it to get a better gpu and higher frame rates.

    • The (never ending) problem is that to achieve 1080+/60/high you are then getting into the endless upgrade cycle. The PC gaming crowd is where they are because they’re spending 5x the price of a console on entry, and a further 2-3x the price again every 1-2 years if they want to stay there.

      • Yeah I understand that if you want to maintain that level of quality you will need to upgrade over the years. However if the current consoles started with better internals then over time developers would work out ways to improve efficiency and get moe out of the hardware.

        I feel that the current generation started too far behind and I don’t think we’ll see the improvements of last generation. For example when you compared uncharted to uncharted 3 the difference was amazing!

        • The problem with that train of thought is you end up with the cost of entry being ridiculously prohibitive to start with, which makes it harder to get people to make the jump. There’s a reason why the PS3 cost $1000 AUS on launch.

  • Yeah I doubt they will be doing this until PS5. More likey what said @stevorooni PS4 slim with 4K blu ray, although I doubt they will include PSVR break out box as that will add even more SKUs. To get 4K @ 60fps on a PC you have to spend serious cash, I very much doubt they will have a $2000+ console!

  • Any good resources to read online about what’s required for seamless 4K online? I keep hearing scuttlebutt about our internet infrastructure not being adequate to handle (I know right) 4K but then I thought it was inevitably going to be on-board hardware like it seemingly already is on higher-end PC builds.

    • Both consoles already have enough power for 4K when it comes yo pictures and video. Its only gaming that will require more power.

    • Yes it is. You have the vertical resolution (which easily fits two 1080p frames height wise, then you have the horizontal resolution which is 3840, two 1080p frames wide.

      So if you imagine it like the area of a plot of land, you do in fact have four times the number of pixel/square whatever.

    • 4k is 3840×2160. It’s roughly 4x as many pixels as 1920×1080 (around 8 million pixels compared to around 2 million pixels)

    • They changed from measuring vertical resolution to measuring horizontal resolution so the number appeared much bigger and therefore better. 1080P could arguably be called 2K and 4K could arguably be called 2160P.

      I have noticed the text in games seems to be getting smaller, as if they expect me to have a TV bigger than 40 inches. The Division’s text being small, on an angle and white against a probably white back drop has made it quite hard for me to read things. I’m starting to think I need the option to select a font size.

  • Playing games at native 4K is probably a stretch for any near upgrades, at least with AAA titles. I reckon the next Sony console will play games at 1440p, and either down-sample for 1080p (allowing for fantastic AA) or upscale to 2160p using a dedicated piece of hardware. A 4K Blu-ray player and other native 4K support with perhaps smaller games at that resolution would also be fantastic.

    As to whether this is a whole new generation or not, I think this is more likely a new console using the same PS4 architecture but with modern components. Perhaps even HBM or GDDR5X instead of GDDR5. The move to x86 should allow for much easier backwards compatibility, so it’d be much easier to sell “New and Imported Playstation!” rather than “Another New Console that Can’t Play Your Old Games!”

  • One can only dream. Whenever this kind of thing gets brought up its like the sony fanbase is nowhere to be seen but all the pc masters come out of the woodwork to pick at the idea. I would happily drop a sum of money on this over a high end pc

  • I’d rather have a good framerate and effective AA at 1080p than have 4k resolution.

    I really hate how much console devs focus on fancy lighting effects and such to the detriment of resolution and performance. Especially performance.

    • Absolutely. 1080p with solid AA looks amazing. I’d much rather that at a crazy nice framerate than 4k at whatever. And I have a 4k monitor. 4k is nice but I can’t play any game which has chop. Life is too short for chop.

  • I really hope it’s just a slim model with 4K BluRay support. Could you imagine “requires ps4.5 to play” slapped on new PS4 games? F*ck that right off. It would be a spit in the face to their fan base.

    Leave the games to the PS5.

  • I don’t think 4k gaming consoles will exist, you need minimal 980 or 390x to achieve 60fps at medium settings, those cards are not cheap. IF Sony can somehow get the chips for cheap and pop them on the mobo then fine but I just don’t see any company dedicating %50+ of a system cost to a single GPU chip. (and memory).

  • So screw it, the PS5 will just be a PC with a custom case, OS, etc and require a separate Graphics Card purchase every other year. With RAM and Processor upgrades somewhere in the middle.

    Has nobody learned anything from Sega? Nobody wants Console add ons, Slim Line model? Sure. Bigger HDD because 500gb was too small? Yep of course. But external Hardware upgrades? Ridiculous. Only Nintendo got it right and even than it wasn’t a perfect solution.

  • Well in the PS Vr official release he say that the point in them making it is so people don’t need high end computers to operate it, so it could become apart of ever house hold. This doesn’t make too much sense to me

  • After you buy the new Ps4.5, you will be required to by the 4K season pass. Don’t worry though, Sony has you covered with 4koin token microtransactions

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