Published On: Tue, Sep 6th, 2016

Sony Has The Least To Lose With The PS4 Neo And Slim Compared To Microsoft And Nintendo

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Tomorrow, Sony finally starts talking about its new hardware, the PS4 Slim, which has been leaked to such an absurd degree that people are actively playing the unit at home now, and the PlayStation Neo, which was mysteriously absent from E3, and though some initial specs were leaked, it’s unclear if the system has evolved since then.

The PlayStation press event will hopefully spend close to no time on the Slim, a system that has already been thoroughly examined by the press, even though Sony refuses to acknowledge it exists, as the Neo is what everyone is going to tune in for.

The Neo has been one of the oddest stories of the year. First, it was leaked that Sony was creating an “upgraded” PS4, which many took to calling PS4.5 or PS4K. Later, the NEO codename was leaked, along with a few of its capabilities, namely, the ability of the console to run games in 4K, and the fact that it would probably be roughly twice as powerful as a regular PS4.
Things started to go a bit sideways when it became public knowledge that Microsoft MSFT -0.36% also was making an upgraded system, the Xbox Scorpio. The two collided at E3, where Sony seemed to pull the Neo from a press conference debut, saying they weren’t ready to talk about it just yet. Microsoft, meanwhile, leapt upon Sony’s perceived weakness and rolled out the Scorpio, at least in concept and name, a console four times more powerful than the Xbox One, and one that would outperform Sony’s Neo, if the leaked specs were accurate.

All the reporting seemed to indicate that Sony’s original plan for the Neo was that it would be out this fall, hopefully complimenting PSVR, but now? No one seems to know. Some still swear Sony is planning a holiday release, while others believe it’s been delayed to the spring. Still more think that perhaps Sony is going to really dig in and ensure it doesn’t “lose” to the Scorpio in terms of power, and it will debut alongside Microsoft’s upgraded system next holiday.

 

Tomorrow, Sony finally starts talking about its new hardware, the PS4 Slim, which has been leaked to such an absurd degree that people are actively playing the unit at home now, and the PlayStation Neo, which was mysteriously absent from E3, and though some initial specs were leaked, it’s unclear if the system has evolved since then.

The PlayStation press event will hopefully spend close to no time on the Slim, a system that has already been thoroughly examined by the press, even though Sony refuses to acknowledge it exists, as the Neo is what everyone is going to tune in for.

 

Fortunately for Sony, they are in a much stronger position than either Nintendo or Microsoft when it comes to this console race, and debuting new hardware in the future.

This May, Sony’s PS4 surpassed more than 40 million units sold. Microsoft has stopped releasing sales numbers of the Xbox One, but last we heard, it was around 20 million, less than half of Sony’s total. Nintendo, meanwhile, has only sold 13 million Wii Us, despite a year’s head start on both Sony and Microsoft.

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When we talk about the NX and Nintendo, there’s an unmistakable sense of urgency there. It’s unclear what would happen to the overall health of the company if Nintendo released another major console that performed as poorly as the Wii U, as it may threaten the entire concept of them staying in the hardware game. Additionally, if the rumors are true and the portable NX may end up replacing both the Wii U and the 3DS, that puts additional sales pressure on the unit, as it will have to sell enough to make up for both those totals in the future, theoretically.

Microsoft, meanwhile, has some pressure off because they’re part of a huge corporation that does not lean on its video game arm in the least. But in terms of the future of the Xbox brand, the Scorpio represents a significant attempt to reclaim the console crown from Sony, who has been trouncing them in sales since launch.

The Xbox One has always suffered from the narrative that it’s less powerful than the PS4, and while it is, to some degree, the main problem with Xbox One was its horrific launch that forcibly bundled the system with Kinect, and confused people about the use of discs and an always-online requirement.

The Scorpio, in theory, could represent a fresh start for Xbox One. There’s no Kinect. The debates about discs and used games and online connectivity are pretty much over. The system may end up being more powerful than any other console on the market. If they can debut the Scorpio and effectively communicate that they are the new power leader in the market, they believe they can shift sales back into their favor.

But can they?

Both Sony and Microsoft will be quick to admit that the upcoming Neo/Scorpio debut does not signify the start of a new console generation. The difference in these systems to their predecessors will not be as significant as the leap from PS2 to PS3 or Xbox 360 to Xbox One. Both companies want to make it clear that these are upgraded systems rather than the birth of a new console generation meant to leave Xbox One and PS4 behind.

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However, this is a hard sell for consumers, because unless there’s some sort of massive rebate program introduced, they’re going to be charging $400-500 for new systems, and that might as well be a new console generation for anyone who has to shell out that kind of cash.

This is why Sony’s 20 million sales lead is practically insurmountable at this point. No matter what the difference in performance between the Neo and Scorpio at this point, there is almost nothing that would allow Microsoft to make up that difference. Both systems talk about 4K and VR capability and things like that, and the two will likely be pretty similar, even if this time it’s Microsoft with the power edge. Given that both systems are backward compatible, how many Sony players are going to upgrade from a PS4 to a Scorpio instead of a Neo if it means leaving all their games behind? How many people who own neither system are going to leap directly to pricey Scorpio or Neo instead of settling on a cheaper Xbox One or PS4 Slim?

You can see what I mean here, how there are precious few avenues for Microsoft to really take advantage of this new paradigm, even if they do end up with the more powerful system at last. Add in the fact that Microsoft seems perfectly content stripping Xbox of its games exclusivity be releasing all its titles on PC as well, and that’s yet another reason to get a PlayStation, if you have a PC that can run games reasonably well.

If the Neo is just terrible and the Scorpio is God’s gift to consoles, sure, maybe Microsoft can retake some ground and shift the narrative a bit. But Sony is so preposterously far ahead at this point, that almost nothing short of a hard reset is ever going to make a difference in this current race, as the release of Neo and Scorpio does not appear to be that kind of generation-ending event.

We will know more tomorrow, but it’s hard to believe that whatever happens, Sony won’t still be in a very strong position when the dust settles.

Courtesy Forbes

About the Author

Syed Ammar Alavi

- is Lahore (Pakistan) based journalist & writer with 25-year experience in print, wire and broadcast forms of journalism. His major fields of interest are politics, film,tv,sports, climate change and technology

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