Up until now, there have been rumblings in the development community that Sony was planning to revise the hardware in their PlayStation 4. What made the rumors intriguing was that according to the sources, Sony wasn’t just reducing the footprint and heat of the console with a “slim” version like they had in previous console generations. The information leaking out suggested that Sony was actually going to bump the specs to account for the additional power requirements that VR and 4K gaming needs. This incremental hardware upgrade would be unique in the console space, with the closest analogue being the revision of the handheld Nintendo 3DS with the New Nintendo 3DS in 2014.
Sony is now openly outlining this hardware upgrade plan with some developers. Both Giant Bomb and Eurogamer confirm that they have seen the documentation. The new Sony hardware is codenamed Neo, while the original PlayStation 4 is referred to as the Base model. The Neo version of the PlayStation offers faster memory, a better processor, and a more powerful graphics unit. Developers are being told that a Neo game’s performance must meet or exceed the Base version, and Neo-only features or gameplay is forbidden. Additionally, studios will not be allowed to produce Neo-only titles. They must continue to support the Base version. Starting in October, all PlayStation 4 games must support both specifications of the console.
The documents do not specify when the hardware is launching, but the software requirement starting in October is a good hint. It remains to be seen how gamers will react to this console hardware upgrade, and how Base model owners will feel when their Neo brethren are playing the same games at better framerates and bigger resolutions.