A shifting tide.
If we are, in fact, moving away from the traditional static console market, and more toward the upgradeable model of PCs, then the rumors and reports about the PlayStation "Neo" are some of the most concrete evidence we've had yet.
They began in March, when reports of a more powerful PlayStation 4 emerged. According to the initial details, the "PS4.5" would come equipped with an upgraded GPU that would allow it to output a 4K video signal, and also enhance the graphics of PS VR games. This news seemed to strengthen rumors of a more powerful PS4 from October of last year, when Sony Computer Entertainment senior vice president Masayasu Ito said the company might consider offering a "high-power" model of its console.
These reports all gained more credibility when GameSpot's sister site Giant Bomb cited multiple internal Sony sources in an extensive story regarding the improved console, reportedly called PlayStation "Neo" by employees. Neo will have upgraded GPU, CPU, and RAM, according to the article, while the storage drive will be the same as the current PS4--it's not known, though, whether that's in reference to the capacity or the type of drive.
According to the same report, every PS4 game, purportedly following Neo's launch, will be required to ship with two different modes: one to run on the PS4 as it exists now, and one on whatever Neo ends up being called. This would mean more stable frame rates on the latter. The rumors also state the new system will be priced at $400 USD.
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Following the aforementioned Giant Bomb report, Eurogamer also came forward to corroborate the many details of the story. Furthermore, Eurogamer's source said development kit prototypes were heading to developers "right now," as of the story's April 19 publish date. A new "test kit" was said to be queued for later, while a "second generation" dev kit would be sent out sometime in June.
In the interest of looking at how the existing PS4 could continue to exist alongside Neo, Digital Foundry took a deep dive into the reported details. Most notably of all: developers can't split multiplayer between the two platforms; games released after October will need to also be compatible with Neo; and devs can choose whether to allow the transfer of save data from the original PS4 to Neo.
Sony has yet to confirm any of these details, or respond to GameSpot's inquiries about the supposed PlayStation Neo and all of its hypothetical features. As E3 approaches, it seems highly likely that Sony will reveal some sort of upgraded hardware, as is the case with Microsoft. Stay tuned to GameSpot throughout next week for news, features, and previews coming out of E3 2016.