Why The Scorpio Reveal Caused Sony To Blunder Their PS4 Pro Conference

Teraflops might have seemed like an inconsequential word to market a video game console with, and Sony might well have demonstrated that exciting software will always trump hardware during E3, but Microsoft flexing Scorpio’s muscles blind sided Sony, outflanking them and forcing an unforced error in their marketing of the PS4 Pro.

The PS4 Pro is powerful, and it does have the capability to positively change our gameplay experience, but how could Sony ever have gone on stage and effectively marketed 4.2 teraflops? They couldn’t. Indeed, by laying claim to the “most powerful console ever made” tagline, Microsoft has almost symbolically trademarked the term teraflop. That isn’t to say Sony aren’t likely to expand on the console’s specifications in more detail later, but at this event, the event that needed the consoles presence to explode onto the stage and grab the attention of consumers, Sony weren’t able to deliver any compelling reasons to upgrade.

As impressive as it is in the flesh, 4K and HDR is quite obviously a huge challenge to market effectively. On stage, the vividness in difference between when HDR modes were toggled on and off varied in effect. In some instances, the effects were quite apparent, while other occasions it seemed as though nothing had really changed. Sitting 3 feet away from a 4K HDR display in your living room, the extra fidelity is undoubtedly noticeable, but on stage, at this week’s Sony conference, the changes were hard to register, let alone to the hundreds of thousands, if not millions of potential customers watching the streamed event.

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Put simply, HDR and 4K compliment the Pro’s boosted hardware, but they should have been a footnote, not the precedent of which the entirety of the conference was articulated by. But, conscious of appearing inferior to the Scorpio’s more impressive specifications, Sony were restricted in their ability to show off the measure of Pro’s power upgrade over the base unit.

Ultimately, the concept behind the PS4 Pro was poorly conveyed to the end user. In the aftermath of Sony’s PlayStation event, one feels as though they know more about 4K television and HDR technology than the PS4 Pro. The truth of the matter is that you aren’t going to be hyped for this system unless you own a 4K HDR television, a separate piece of hardware that still costs twice the amount of money as the console itself. Surely, it would have made more sense to cite improvements to PSVR as a unique sell point for Pro. Or, at the very least, to reaffirm a more substantial list of third party developers ready to use the additional performance of the console to good effect.

As a result of Microsoft trumping Sony in the arms race for power, Sony were played into a hole, forcing them to emphasize the effects of an aspect of television technology that should have been a sideshow to the increased GPU and CPU performance offered by PS4 Pro. Ironically, HDR is a technology that both Microsoft and Sony will make available to all console owners moving forward anyway. The PS4 Pro is probably worth $399, but given the chance to demonstrate the imperative behind their latest console, Sony have stuttered and killed off the momentum that was driving the brand forward. Now more than ever, the PS4 Pro looks like a niche halfway house where the Scorpio is a desirable quantum leap.