TIME Video Games

Sony Unveils New High-End ‘PlayStation Pro’ and Slimmer PS4

during the group stage of the finale for FIFA Interactive World Cup 2015 at Palais am Lenbachplatz on May 18, 2015 in Munich, Germany.
Alexander Hassenstein - FIFA—2015 FIFA PlayStation 4 controller.

Updating a console that hasn't changed since 2013

Sony unveiled a slimline PlayStation 4 during a press conference at the PlayStation Theater in Times Square Wednesday afternoon.

Sony boss Andrew House kicked off the show by leaping straight to the revised system, which he said would be “slimmer, lighter, more energy efficient” than the current model, which hasn’t changed since its launch in November 2013.

The slimmer PlayStation 4 will be the “standard” PlayStation 4 moving forward, said House, and it’s designed “to appeal to as wide an audience as possible.” It’ll be available by September 15 for most markets, and Sony’s going to sell it for $299, or $50 less than the current model’s $350 price tier.

PlayStation 4 system architect Mark Cerny then confirmed the existent of PlayStation Pro, Sony’s souped-up, razzle-dazzle followup to its not quite three years old PlayStation 4 games console. Cerny said the new system more than doubles the power of the console’s GPU, which is based on AMD’s Polaris architecture. They’re also boosting the clock rate of the CPU and including a 1 terabyte hard drive. The system will be able to “reach resolutions not thought to be possible on console in 2016,” added Cerny.

Cerny then showed footage from several games running on the Pro, including Insomniac’s forthcoming Spider-Man game, Square Enix’s recently released Deus Ex: Mankind Divided, Square Enix’s forthcoming Rise of the Tomb Raider (released last year as a timed-exclusive for Microsoft’s Xbox One) and an extended glimpse of Watch Dogs 2. All save Spider-Man represent Sony taking existing titles and cranking up the resolution.

PlayStation Pro won’t be merely a shift to higher 4K-angled resolutions, said Cerny. It’ll also allow developers to retroactively upgrade older titles for existing 1080p TVs, say making scenes more visually complex without sacrificing performance. Sony calls this process “forward compatibility,” and Cerny says patches for over a half-dozen first party titles are in the offing, as well as several from third party developers.

Crucial to Sony’s strategy not to balkanize its considerable PlayStation 4 base, now boasting over 40 million users, Sony says disc-based games and downloads must run on both the standard PlayStation 4 and PlayStation Pro. Sony says it’s also asking (though not requiring) publishers and developers to support games on both standard and 4K high-definition TVs when they launch.

Sony also confirmed a new 4K-focused Netflix app would launch with PlayStation Pro, and that 600 hours of 4K content will be available on Netflix by the end of 2016. And in what seemed a response to Microsoft’s recent launch of its HDR-enabled Xbox One S, Sony says it’ll be making every PlayStation 4 HDR-capable by dint of a firmware upgrade next week.

And last but not least, Sony revealed the new PlayStation Pro will launch this year, November 10, for $399, and that you can lay hands on the new slim-sized PlayStation 4, for $299, on September 15.

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