Skip to main content

Can PlayStation Neo Win the Console Wars?

The PlayStation Neo is almost here. Sony has sent out press invites to a special "PlayStation Meeting" event in New York on Sept. 7, where it will almost certainly debut a more powerful, 4K-capable version of its PlayStation 4 console.

But is it too late? Or too early?

Credit: Carnsitr/Shutterstock

(Image credit: Carnsitr/Shutterstock)

Rumors of upgraded, 4K-ready PS4s and Xbox Ones started circulating around the same time earlier this year, but Microsoft struck first. The company just released the Xbox One S, a slimmed-down console that can play 4K Blu-rays and stream ultra-HD content. Next year, Microsoft plans to launch Project Scorpio, a 4K gaming and virtual reality powerhouse with the kind of guts you'd expect from a high-end PC. 

This leaves Sony in a tricky spot. If the PlayStation Neo is just another 4K multimedia machine like the Xbox One S, it may be seen as a me-too device. Neo would certainly make waves if the console is as powerful as Scorpio, but it could be overshadowed by Microsoft's powerhouse system if it releases too early.

MORE: All the PlayStation 4.5 Rumors

Based on previous rumors, the Neo may fall somewhere between the Xbox One S and Scorpio in terms of power. A massive Giant Bomb report from April notes that the new console will have a significantly better graphics chip and will be able to run games in true 4K (the Xbox One S simply upscales games from 1080p). Sony's PlayStation VR headset, which is launching on October 13th, will work with the current PS4 just fine, but will almost certainly benefit from the Neo's added graphics muscle.

What Neo won't do is make your PS4 obsolete. Sony executive Andrew House told The Financial Times in June that the upcoming console is for hardcore gamers with 4K TVs, and that the company will continue to support all versions of PS4. Microsoft made a similar promise about its Xbox One family at E3 2016

With no official specs, it's hard to tell if PlayStation Neo will convince people not to buy an Xbox One S or save up for Scorpio. At the same time, it doesn't need to — Sony already leads this generation's console war by a landslide.

The PS4 currently enjoys a massive install base of roughly 40 million gamers; a big lead over Xbox One, which reportedly had around 19 million users as of early 2016. In addition to being in more homes, the PS4 is the only console that will offer players a way to experience virtual reality this fall, satisfying one of gaming's most rapidly-growing niches. 

Microsoft is certainly closing the gap, not just with Xbox One S, but with its Play Anywhere initiative that will evolve Xbox into a platform by allowing you to buy and play select games across console and PC. Still, there's no denying that PS4 is the console that more gamers want in their living room right now, and Neo would have to be a colossal failure for that to change.