Why The Scorpio Reveal Caused Sony To Blunder Their PS4 Pro Conference
Sony have forged their reputation on superb press conferences. In the last half decade, the company have had a succession of golden showings, the results of which have unquestionably helped to elevate the current PlayStation iteration to its unrivalled commercial success. The industry buzz around the initial PS4 reveal, the amusing demonstration of unrestricted second hand games exchange, the tremendous software showings at both the 2015 and 2016 E3; Sony’s stage performances have all been raving success stories that have helped to elevate the PS4 to an unrivalled top dog status.
As a result, Sony, and the PlayStation brand, has had its chest puffed up, its heads held high and, most importantly, the collective nod approval from the lion’s share of the gaming community so far this generation. With over 40 million units already sold in two years and the wind very much in their sails, even the initial scepticism over iterative console hardware didn’t seem as though it would hinder the Sony juggernaut when it was first mooted earlier this year.
That has, however, proven not to be the case after this week’s labored and confusing reveal of their latest souped up PS4 version during the PlayStation event held in New York. What we saw during the event, was a return to Sony’s darker days – a marketing blunder that did little to convince that world that their latest deluxe PS4 unit even needs to exist, and regardless of where you stand on the benefits of additional graphical fidelity, the root cause of why the conference itself was so dismally unconvincing might have far more to do with Microsoft than you might at first have suspected.
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What we have known as the PS4 Neo is now the PS4 Pro, and predictably, as was the case with PS4 Slim leak, everything we suspected the console to be in regards to specification was almost entirely accurate. An uprated GPU, overclocked processor, a larger HDD, and the ability to support upscaled resolutions and vivid high definition range television effects.
The PS4 Pro is significantly more powerful than its Slim brethren, capable of producing superior graphics, faster frame rates and, most importantly, facilitating the development of more ambitious game design. Yet, absolutely none of this was conveyed effectively during the conference. Instead, Sony chose to focus on 4K resolution and the wondrous effects of HDR. Literally the entire showcase of the PS4 Pro was a convoluted mess of industry buzzwords and technobabble about the marvel of television technology, hardware that isn’t even technically part of the games industry.
Hammering home the message about the benefits of 4K and HDR was a stark contrast to the manner with which Microsoft revealed their Project Scorpio console earlier this year during E3. At the time, many critics (myself included) poked fun at continued repetition of the word teraflop. Microsoft’s video collage, at times, seemed like a parody with slogans such as “Pixels have never looked so good” fading in and out of gameplay demonstrations. But in retrospect, emphasizing the console’s power and the benefits of its increased performance for the purpose of better game design and gameplay experience outlined the purpose of Microsoft’s product to far greater effect. Even beyond the impressive figures, as consumers we know what the Scorpio does, what its purpose is, and why we should consider buying it. The same cannot be said of the PS4 Pro.