Rumors of a PS5 Pro are persistently circulating, and while discussions of its potential release date and launch price tend to dominate, there is also a conversation to be had about the necessity of a PS5 mid-generation upgrade.
During a recent interview with IGN, Take-Two CEO Strauss Zelnick weighed in on the matter, and the influential industry figure suggests that a PS5 Pro wouldn’t “really change much”. Commenting on whether there is a need for an upgraded version of the PS5 (or indeed the Xbox Series X), Zelnick explained it would “all depends on what that mid-generation upgrade would look like.”
“Generally speaking, the mid-generation upgrades haven't really changed much,” said Zelnick, and the CEO went on to suggest that previous mid-generation upgrades (namely the PS4 Pro and Xbox One X) “aren't all that meaningful” as they haven’t altered the way Take-Two owned-developers such as GTA-maker Rockstar create games. And they also do not impact how games are sold from the perspective of a publisher either.
So, it seems in the eyes of Zelnick, that a PS5 Pro is far from essential, and its overall impact on the gaming console market would be fairly minimal. On the surface, this may seem like quite a hot take, but after digging deeper into the matter, the CEO may actually have a fairly reasonable point.
PS5 hasn't even begun to peak
Compared to previous console generations, the PS5 (and Xbox Series X) era has been extremely slow off the mark. The expected crossover period that happens as the industry moves its attention over to the new consoles has been extremely drawn out — and it still isn’t complete even now.
The PS5 launched in November 2020, and yet in 2023, several of the biggest games of the year including Hogwarts Legacy and Resident Evil 4 have also been released on PS4. And the recent news that Star Wars Jedi: Survivor will be hitting PS4 in the future is yet more evidence that publishers aren’t willing to abandon hardware that is now almost a decade old.
Granted, this frustratingly slow changing of the guard isn’t entirely the fault of third-party publishers, and neither is Sony to blame either. Until relatively recently, just finding a PS5 in stock was a massive headache. This was primarily due to the global chip shortage, which greatly impact the initial stock levels of the console. For more than two years, chasing PS5 restocks became practically a full-time job for many (including yours truly) and it resulted in many gamers being forced to stick with PS4.
Because the PS5 is only now becoming readily available — the flagship console even received its first proper discount last week — it feels like the PS5 generation is now finally picking up steam. So, it definitely seems a little jarring to be talking about the need for a mid-generation upgrade when the regular PS5 hasn’t had the chance to properly show off what it can do yet.
PS5 Pro: More power for a price
Zelnick is likely somewhat correct in his assessment that a PS5 Pro wouldn’t be all that “meaningful". It probably wouldn’t impact the way developers create games or how these titles are then sold to consumers. But it’s important to acknowledge that a PS5 Pro wouldn’t be expected to move the industry forward in the same way that a PS6 will in roughly half a decade's time.
The PS4 Pro was a console designed for the most engaged and passionate gaming enthusiasts rather than the casual crowd. It essentially attempted to bridge the gap between the PS4 and PS5. At release, the PS4 Pro was especially important as it focused on 4K gaming, which had rapidly grown in popularity between 2013 and 2016 as the prices of 4K TVs had sharply dropped.
Rumors have already suggested that the PS5 Pro will attempt to bring 8K gaming to console players. But, it’s worth noting that even in 2023, an 8K TV is very expensive, and it’s not a purchase we recommend for most people. Nevertheless, the industry is likely heading in that direction and the PS5 Pro could represent the first tentative steps into that arena before the PS6 puts the full focus on it.
It’s perhaps true that a PS5 Pro won’t really change all that much. But that doesn’t mean it won’t have its merits, like its precursor the PS4 Pro, it would presumably be a machine designed for gamers who want the highest resolution and framerates possible when playing some of the best PS5 games. The real leap forward will come with the PS6 or whatever Sony decides to name its next console.
The necessity of a PS5 Pro can be debated, especially as the PS5 still has plenty of untapped potential, but it’s a near certainty that the most passionate PlayStation enthusiasts would commit their cash towards new hardware without hesitation. Hell, I'm already starting to save towards a PS5 Pro myself, just in case. So even if a PS5 Pro wouldn’t be the most meaningful console, it would still have plenty of value.