28 March 2016, USA :
Sony Corp. is planning to sell a more powerful version of its PlayStation 4 machine to handle higher-end gaming experiences, including virtual reality, people familiar with the matter said, while continuing production of its existing console that has so far sold more than 36 million units world-wide.
Existing PlayStation 4 owners would need to buy the new model to take full advantage of the enhanced graphics and power, though it is likely that the current model and the coming one would share the same software catalog, one of the people said.
The new console would be announced before the planned October release of the PlayStation VR, Sony’s new virtual-reality headset, the people said. It would be able to handle ultra-high-definition resolution graphics. The upgraded console would also provide more power for running the PlayStation VR, whose main competitors, Facebook Inc.’s Oculus Rift and HTC Corp.’s Vive, are designed to work with top-shelf computers.
Microsoft recently signaled plans to deliver console upgrades in lieu of entirely new systems years apart as it looks to more deeply integrate its Xbox One system with its Windows 10 operating system for personal computers.
“We will see more hardware innovation in the console space than we’ve ever seen,” Xbox head Phil Spencer said at a press event in San Francisco on March 1, in which remakes of several games with 4K resolution capability—quality four times greater than today’s standard of full high-definition—were announced. “You’ll actually see us come out with new hardware capability during a generation allowing the same games to run backward and forward compatible.”
A spokeswoman for Microsoft said the company remains “committed to console innovation.”
Nintendo is developing a new gaming platform, code-named “NX.” It hasn’t revealed any details about it, though some analysts believe it could be available as early as October.
Nintendo declined to comment on its console release cycle.
Sony’s goal with the upgraded PlayStation 4 console is to capture gamers willing to pay for a richer gaming environment, including a high-end virtual-reality experience, the people familiar with the matter said.
Even without a beefed-up console, Sony is expected to be a leader in the VR market this year despite delaying its PlayStation VR system until October, according to Piers Harding-Rolls, an analyst at research firm IHS. Sony’s headset starts at $399, below the $599 Rift and $799 Vive.
Macquarie Securities projects Sony will sell eight million PlayStation VR headsets in the product’s first two years on the market, but Macquarie says it will take years before the hardware device itself becomes a considerable profit contributor. For now, the headsets will drive highly profitable software sales, Macquarie wrote in a research note recently.
About 1.4 million virtual- and augmented-reality headsets will be sold word-wide this year and nearly 40 million headsets by 2020, researchers at Gartner Inc. estimate. Augmented reality blends digital images with a person’s view of the real world.
Sony has been expanding its offerings recently, including the rollout of an online TV-streaming service, to attract a wider range of customers. Simultaneously offering a standard model PlayStation 4 and an upgraded version to appeal to both casual gamers and hard-core fans is part of this effort, analysts say.
Damian Thong, an analyst at Macquarie Securities, said he expects PlayStation 4 software to be usable with future-generation consoles, a switch from the past, when certain games were incompatible with different-generation consoles.
“It would clearly signal the end of the traditional console generation cycle,” said Mr. Thong, in a recent letter to clients.
Source : WSJ
Image: Zuma press