Sony Has A Messaging Problem With The PS4 Pro

Sony have failed to communicate why most people should bother with the PS4 Pro.

Posted By | On 31st, Oct. 2016 Under Article, Editorials | Follow This Author @Pramath1605


The PlayStation 4 Pro is currently doing well, if reports are to be believed. Apparently, the pre-orders for the system are beyond what Sony expected, which seems to indicate that the system is on track to do well. But this is reductive reasoning, and it seems to miss on some very important facts- it misses that no hard numbers have been shared. It misses that strong pre-orders don’t necessarily translate into sustained success for products. And it misses that even products that went on to eventually fail, including the Sega 32X, the PlayStation Vita, and the Wii U, saw an incredible uptake in pre-orders, none of which amounted to much once the systems were actually available.

In other words, the pre-orders don’t matter much: they just mean that the Sony faithful are willing to eat up the PS4 Pro, which, of course they are. The question is, will other people be willing to jump on board? Will they be willing to spend money on another PS4 when they already own one? Will they be willing to spend $400 on a PS4 Pro when a PS4 Slim is much cheaper? Will they spend $400 on a PS4 Pro when an Xbox One S is much cheaper, and also has a UHD Drive? Will they spend $400 on a system that will be overshadowed by Microsoft’s ‘the most powerful console ever’ Xbox One Scorpio just next year?

What I am trying to get at here is that Sony have a problem- they need the PS4 Pro to sell on a sustained basis, especially if they want developers to continue supporting it in a meaningful way, and if they want the idea of iterative console upgrades to take off. But as of right now, they’re not doing a very good job of that. Most people don’t quite understand why they should buy it, or what benefits it has for them- particularly if they own a 1080p TV.

ps4-pro

"Sony have failed to communicate the PS4 Pro, and its benefits, to most people entirely."

In a lot of ways, this is exactly the situation that Nintendo faced with the Wii U- that system was a branding nightmare that most people didn’t realize and misunderstood what it was entirely. Those who knew that it was a thing, and got what it was, weren’t quite sure why they needed one. The one thing in Sony’s favor here is that the PS4 Pro is just an SKU of their product, rather than their flagship- if things go too far south, they can just ditch it, and fall back on the standard PS4, which continues to sell well. But that ignores the larger problem- that Sony have failed to communicate the PS4 Pro, and its benefits, to most people entirely.

The problem was evident in the reveal itself. Let’s ignore the actual presentation (which was dull and lacked energy entirely), and focus rather on the content here. The PS4 Pro was advertised on the strength of three things: improved specs, HDR, and 4K. Sony refused to go more in depth on the improved specs, possibly fearing unfavorable comparisons with the upcoming Scorpio (something as major as the fact that the Pro has an extra GB of RAM was only revealed in a random interview done last week, rather than on stage); 4K was a resolution bump that couldn’t be effectively communicated to most people watching the announcement stream, who were almost certainly doing so on sub 4K streams universally; and in addition to this problem, Sony also announced that all PS4 models would be getting HDR capability via a firmware update, meaning that the most visible graphical update that the PS4 Pro was bringing to games at a glance was suddenly available to everyone for free, leading to the question, yet again- why buy a Pro?

The problems persisted afterwards, too. Sony’s emphasis during the PS4 Pro reveal may have been on 4K, but that was probably a costly mistake. The PS4 Pro simply is not powerful enough to render most major AAA games in 4K natively, and instead has to resort to cheats and shortcuts like Checkerboard rendering. The PS4 Pro’s lack of UHD Blu Ray capability makes the 4K focus even more laughable. Then there is the problem that most of the market currently does not own 4KTVs, nor is there much interest in owning one there that is evident.

ps4-pro

"The trouble here is that the PS4 Pro is an appreciable upgrade over the standard PS4, but that is getting lost and fudged in Sony’s messaging, which insists on focusing on 4K as the selling point."

The trouble here is that the PS4 Pro is an appreciable upgrade over the standard PS4, but that is getting lost and fudged in Sony’s messaging, which insists on focusing on 4K as the selling point. The PS4 Pro brings a lot of other upgrades, visual and performance based, to the table- but most people are simply not aware of these, because they immediately associate the PS4 Pro with 4K. This is why, even on a forum as full of hardcore gaming enthusiasts as NeoGAF, you have people wondering what the point of a PS4 Pro is if you own a 1080p HDTV.

The deeper problem here is that Sony’s own insistence on pushing 4K with the PS4 Pro – something that the machine is decidedly not the best at – is ridiculous. There is so much more the PS4 Pro could be doing if Sony would ease up on the 4K focus, but here we are, stuck with still more dots and lines on the screen, while actual meaningful performance and visual upgrades that we could be getting with the Pro’s increased resources are being squandered. Then, too, there is also the fact that Sony’s insistence on maintaining absolute parity between the Pro and the standard PS4 is holding the Pro back from its full potential- if the PS4 Pro can render Bloodborne at 60fps and 1080p, and if that is something players are willing to spend money on, then why is Sony so insistent on not letting that happen? I understand they don’t want to anger the 40 million odd PS4 owners worldwide, but they still get Bloodborne, don’t they? But what incentive does anyone have on upgrading to a higher end PS4, if that PS4’s higher end specs aren’t being put to any use at all?

Sony’s messaging problems with the PS4 don’t just have to do with the PS4’s hardware, or its fundamental existence, however. They also permeate the chief reason for any games hardware to exist in the first place- games. As of right now, officially, it is unclear the extent of support that PS4 Pro owners can expect for their machines. Sony have promised all first party PS4 games will support it going forward, and that’s good, but what about third party games? Sony say that ‘virtually all games released after November 10’ will support the PS4 Pro, but that wording is deliberately vague and falls short of committing to all games supporting the Pro. Will third party games definitively support the Pro? When major titles such as Destiny skip out on supporting it, you tend to lose some confidence in the entire charade, especially given just how close of an association Destiny has with PlayStation to begin with. And what does ‘supporting the PS4 Pro’ mean anyway? Does just upscaled 4K output qualify? Or does it have to be something more substantial? Games like Titanfall 2 seem to suggest that the former is the case- but if so, yet again, the question is, why bother buying the PS4 Pro?

ps4-pro

"The PS4 Pro is the strongest console ever made. Sony should be capitalizing on that, pushing that angle for all it’s worth in their marketing, leveraging the PS4 Pro’s extra power to ensure that games on it are a clear visual upgrade over games on the standard PS4."

The sad part is that there is a very simple answer to that question, and to all of the PS4 Pro’s other problems, too- it is, quite simply, the most powerful console ever made, by definition. Yes, the Scorpio will trounce it when it releases next year, but that’s next year. In the here and now, the PS4 Pro is it. The Scorpio does not exist right now- it doesn’t exist as a physical console that we have been shown, it doesn’t exist as tech demos that we’ve seen, it doesn’t even exist as a list of specs. It literally exists as a promise on Microsoft’s part to ‘deliver the most powerful console ever’ with a ‘beastly’ 6 TFLOPs GPU. That is literally it- the Scorpio, as of right now, isn’t real.

The PS4 Pro is. It’s here, now, and it’s the strongest console ever made. Sony should be capitalizing on that, pushing that angle for all it’s worth in their marketing, leveraging the PS4 Pro’s extra power to ensure that games on it are a clear visual upgrade over games on the standard PS4. Instead, here we are- a console afflicted by poor messaging and marketing, so that its utility simply isn’t immediately clear.

Note: The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of, and should not be attributed to, GamingBolt as an organization.

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  • Starman

    Please stop with the damage control , not very becoming……

  • silvas

    As usual you overreact…Pro will be fine.

  • Terminator

    LOL the Sony faithful aka the Degenerate PS Drones won’t like this article one bit.

    • tcnitsni

      It’s an inaccurate article, nothing to like or dislike about it. It’s just factually wrong, clickbait.

    • Aenea

      And the Xbox fannies will lap it up!

    • Ucouldntbemorewrong

      Xberts are ridiculous!

  • Rise of The SicGamer

    You can feel the hate this guy has for playstation between the lines, it wreeks of xbox fanboy.

    • Triton

      Clearly you havent read his anti-Xbox articles for the last 3 years.

    • Hvd

      as much hate as i do:)

    • Aenea

      And thank heavens you’re not a ‘journalist’! :p

  • “The PS4 Pro is. It’s here, now, and it’s the strongest console ever made. Sony should be capitalizing on that, pushing that angle for all it’s worth in their marketing,”

    Done!
    https://youtu.be/E2BVRVrP9XU

    • jp

      forgot to add, ‘strongest console ever made for a year’ there looks legit now.

    • Hvd

      not even a year i hear xbox scorpio is ahead of schedule and mite be out sooner then next holiday season.

    • jp

      Good to hear!!!

    • Hvd

      enjoy it until next year…lol

    • Aenea

      If this year is gonna be as awesome as the previous 3 years I owned the strongest console ever made I will be in for a treat! :p

  • KLEEBAN KLIBAN

    So when he says Destiny won’t support the Pro.. he’s talking Destiny 1, right? I mean obviously Destiny 1 won’t get more work done. Bungie is having enough trouble keeping up with the expectations they set at launch, and now they need to focus on Destiny 2. The entirety of Rise of Iron barely added anything, after such a long wait, so that just shows you how few resources are being put into Destiny 1. Now if Destiny 2 doesn’t support the Pro, that will be noteworthy. Anyway 4K TV’s have already gotten cheaper just before PS4 Pro, especially by Sony. The increased demand this creates will cause TV’s to drop in price, then more people can afford the TV’s, then more people will buy the TV’s, then the TV’s will drop in price again to stay competitive in that growing market, and that process will repeat. Sony just gave 4K and VR a year’s head start, and with tech a lot happens in a year.

    • theduckofdeath

      4K TVs are affordable now. Well, 4K brings many other aspects into consideration. The choice is not so simple. If you want a good one, it is going to cost you.

    • KLEEBAN KLIBAN

      Yea, thats what I meant. I guess I accidentally failed to acknoweledge the existance of 4K TVs that arent smart and have HDR and 120Hz refresh, etc. If ur gona buy a nice TV, do it once and do it right. I paid $1650 for a Sony Bravia 850D.. and 6 months ago I think the older model 850C was like $2200. Huge price drops in a short time.. but Sony has the Pro coming out and has good reason to drop the price. Also, not sure if its cuz the TV is smart or if its because its Sony (and smart) but my TV changes to the PS4 JDMI channel whenever I press the PS button on my controller.. even when turning the PS4 on. It also turns my PS4 on if I change the TV to the HDMI channel. The TV remote also works on the PS4 menu and the TV has audio commands just like my XB1.. if this works on all TVs great but I think it could be because the PS4 menu is a Sony UI on a Sony TV.. in which case every gamer should get a smart Sony unless MS or Nintendo atart making TVs haha. I found out all these thing accidentally and really need to look into what else the TV can do to compliment the PS4.

    • theduckofdeath

      That sounds cool. I’m shopping around now, and it is tough to get the feature set and performance I want (low input lag, color gamut, HDR-10 and DV, brightness, black levels, motion, IQ). Maybe holding off another year is the best bet, though still no guarantee on features. The prices will definitely drop considerably.

    • Hvd

      nope he means destiny needs a pro patch.if it doesnt get a pro patch its a ps4 game…lol.thats the issue with the ps4 pro you will be waiting for patches just to upscale…lmao

    • Aenea

      Yeah keep saying it’s just upscaling even tho it’s not, but no matter what others say you can’t fathom that the Pro might actually be a great machine, because if you did you would have to admit that Sony has the better machine out, again.

      And besides, you really do think that X1 games automagically will add above 1080p resolutions and graphical fidelity when they are being run on the Scorpio? If so, damn, I thought Amsterdam had the best weed but now I want what you’re smoking!

    • KLEEBAN KLIBAN

      Destiny needs a Pro patch IF it wants to look or run better than on standard PS4 sure.. but u clearly missed my point or u would realize I wont be waiting for a Destiny 1 patch at all haha. its not coming so u just keep waiting. Bungie has no time for Destiny 1. I will get the same quality on Destiny (a pretty old game now) and better quality on countless other games, likely including Destiny 2. For only 100 more bucks u get significantly better quality on mad games (and sure whatever secondary video features bla bla).. and with Scorpio down the line questioning support for mid gen consoles is dumb. This is how it is now. 100s of games will support the Pro, even many games I already own, Fallout 4, Skyrim, Elder Scrolls Online, Rise of the Tomb Raider, Shadows of Mordor, Black Ops 3, Uncharted 4, Last of Us Remastered.. those are just games off the top of my heas that I own already haha. You should also look into the Pro potential a bit more if u think its just an upscale. Check out Elder Scrolls Online. Nothing majorly inpressive coming from Zenimax but it will help u better understand the types of things that will be done that arent simple resolution and therefore also show benefits on 1080p. think it was aspects of water, shading and lighting improved for a more realistic game. and those would also show in 1080p mode. A lot more than that can and will be done.

    • Ucouldntbemorewrong

      Destiny 2 has to support it, D1 does not since it came out before …what was it? Sept 15th 2016 all games released going forward have to.

    • KLEEBAN KLIBAN

      Yea, I know.. Day 1 patch for September games and staring October games need to have a Pro mode ready when the game launched. When I said if Destiny 2 doesn’t support it that will be noteworthy, I didn’t really think it wouldn’t. It was just a polite way of saying the lack of support on Destiny 1 was not noteworthy and the writer kinda pointed out nothing. I mean PS4 didn’t get any PS3 games to have better graphics, or play them at all, or connect to the same users, so the fact that some developers are going to go back and make games look better just makes PS4 Pro more awesome than any new console release… ever. Even just looking at games that I already own, it is already confirmed that Fallout 4, Skyrim Remastered, Elder Scrolls Online, Rise of the Tomb Raider, Uncharted 4, Last of Us Remasterd, Black Ops 3, Infamous First Light, and Shadows of Mordor will all be visually upgraded. That’s huge! I put mad time into most of these games, and this includes my three most played games to date. Pro is gona be sick.

    • Ucouldntbemorewrong

      Ya I’ve been out of a PS4 for two weeks and I’m starting to get the shakes, figured out I’d sell it now for more instead of less after release. Honestly if my Plasma TV did not die on me this year forcing my hand to get a 4K HDR TV I’d be just fine with my PS4. It just did not look that fab hooked up to the 4K, compared to my Plasma/PS4 hookup that was just stunning.

    • Danny MacGurk

      That’s actually pretty lame because every single game on Xboxone WILL be ready to play at 1

    • Ucouldntbemorewrong

      So will every PS4 game on PS4 Pro be able to play, they just are not going back into D1 to add more “stuff” for the pro version but it will play. Bungie is not adding anything to the XB1s version either, and I don’t think they need to it’s an old game they have moved on to D2.

  • Marc Grierson

    hahaha! this is embarrassing. Shade has been thrown xD

  • Gamez Rule

    For £277.99, customers can pick up a PS4 Slim console, alongside triple-A and largely critically acclaimed titles Mafia III, Rise of the Tomb Raider and Overwatch, along with the choice of either Battlefield 1 or Titanfall 2

    OR pre-order the PS4-Pro for £332.49

    All good news ☺☺☺ http://powerupgaming.co.uk/2016/10/31/uk-retailer-launches-ps4-slim-bundle-deal-that-includes-four-great-games-for-277/

    • jp

      or don’t, and just wait one little year for Scorpio, problem solved.

    • Riggybro

      Or wait for two years and get a PS5…

      but who lives like that?

    • Hvd

      then wait another year after that for the xbox two.

    • Riggybro

      That’s like 4 years away…
      So should expect an announcement from Microsoft next year at the latest.

    • Hvd

      thats how long im going to keep my xbox one another 3-4 years im not going to get a mid gen console.ill wait for the xbox two.

    • Aenea

      Then wait 2 more years for the PS5.5!

    • kevin

      Don’t kid yourself and let Microsoft feed you pr bullshit the Scorpio is their next Gen console that isn’t no mid Gen upgrade lol.

    • Hvd

      oh im sure they made their console sound better then it is.but they arnt flat out lying like sony and cerny has.as far as im concerned sony has lots all their credibility as a company with me.

      ill never buy a sony product again.plus i cant wait until the nintendo switch launches and destroys sony over in japan…lol

    • Aenea

      Does the Scorpio play all my PS4 games? Amazing! Sign me up!

    • jp

      Most yeah, it just doesnt play Uncharted 4, (only thing kind of interesting on the PS4 right now thats sad). the rest are multi plats…

    • Aenea

      Cool! Can’t wait to download all my PSN games from the Xbox store and install all my physical PS4 discs on the Scorpio!

  • Triton

    I think Sony does it 100% right, because there isnt any reason to upgrade…

    • Hvd

      that will teach them not to make any more mid gen consoles when it fails.

  • parallel gnome

    Amazing article man.
    just imagine UC4 using all that 4TF of power just for graphics upgrades at 1080p.
    they should have told that 2016 and 2017 are not the years for 4k gaming
    simply the displays of HDR they are not cheap and the tech hasn’t caught up yet for every gamer.

  • Hvd

    this is sonys problem lies.they lied about hdr for hdmi 1.4 ps4 slim and fat.then the 8.4 tflops which is close to a $700 gtx 1080 yea right.if you dont have a 4k hdr 10 tv there is no point to get a ps4 pro.

    you wont see anything different on a 1080p tv at all games wont run better due to sonys ps4 pro must equal the ps4’s fps.you have to wait for a pro patch to uplay upscaled games on a 4k hdr 10 tv also if you dont have a pro patch the ps4 pro;’s gpu runs at half which is a ps4.

    the ps4 pro is a complete joke of a console.also all of what is said is out there on google and its hard to find.

    • Aenea

      Keep believing your own lies buddy!

      And the crap you said is hard to find ‘cos it’s, well, crap and not true! :p

    • Ucouldntbemorewrong

      Don’t bother HIV is a disease.

  • stillwaitingforgreatness

    Oh dear.

  • RobCam

    I have Pre ordered the PS4 Pro, but I am serious considering cancelling the order. Im extremely worried that this new console is going to be released in less that 10 days, and we still haven’t seen any evidence to what it can actually do. I was under the understanding that it was going to improve my PSVR experience by sharpening up the images. At the moment i am truly blown away by the VR headset, but the clarity could be way better. Especially the images in the distance which are quite grainy. I just thought Sony would have come out by now and demonstrated what the Pro can do? but as yet, Nothing? Why has nobody reviewed it yet either, Does Sony have a review embargo until its released? I just what to see what it can actually do before I spend my money.

  • Fear Monkey

    I’m buying the PSPRO mainly because it enhances PSVR. I think they are being quiet on that front to not take away from PSVR sales to current PS4 owners and keeping the sales message on PSVR rather than hype up the Pro.

  • Jason V

    Haha what a misinformed article. Once the Pro releases that 3 MONTH Xbox sales lead will disappear. Even if Sony sell the expected margin of 2-5% of the market. You’re looking at minimum 1 milion easily in the first week. No one can guess what sales will be. Microsoft thought the Xbox One would sell 100 million. Look what happened there. With 40 million PS4’s out there I really doubt it will fail. I will admit though SONY do have a problem of dropping support of something if it doesn’t sell well. So to conclude anyone saying that the PRO is a wrong step should look at what Microsoft have done already with the Xbox One S and the upcoming Scorpio. Which is exactly what SONY are doing.

  • Danny MacGurk

    Absolutely phenomenal write up lad. You covered all real aspects us gamers care about. A great read from start to finish


 

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