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February 2017 Retro Gaming Article

February 10, 2017 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

Boost Mode: Good for PS4 Pro owners and potentially divisive for the PS4 gamers

PS4 Pro
I'm all for "more power", but when that comes with an incentive for developers to abandon the original PS4... I'm less enthused.
Both Microsoft and Sony chose to offer upgrades to their latest consoles. This not the next generation of consoles, but came to market in the form of the Xbox One-S and the PS4 Pro. While gaming's history has seen evolution via leaps in technology, we rarely see "mid-season" upgrades that don't necessitate a new game library, meaning new tech unsupported by the current console. Both of these new models play the old games while adding performance for new games/hardware.

I'll admit that I've never been a fan of Microsoft - computes, software, nor games - so I can't really speak to the Xbox One versus "S" model differences.

I remember buying my first Atari 2600 in the late 70s and my buddy getting an Intellivision for Christmas... we'd both soon be wondering what the Colecovision was all about. New consoles were coming out and leapfrogging the prior ones with new tech and innovations. Exciting times!

These days we chose a manufacturer and become somewhat locked into them, unless we want to buy games for two or more consoles. We're not likely to see something like a "Coleco" swoop in from the sidelines. We can safely stick with the likes of Nintendo, Sony, or Microsoft.

PS4 For Christmas... Skipping PSVR

PS4 Pro This past Christmas I bought a PS4 for my son and I. Having done a moderate amount of research on the purchase, I concluded I wouldn't spend the extra money on the Pro model. This decision was largely based on my prior decision to not purchase the PSVR hardware. VR sounds cool, but it isn't consumer-friendly yet... and may never be.

Sony primarily touted the PS4 Pro as having better specs for their VR hardware and games. As soon as I heard that, I knew two things. I wasn't going to spend extra money on a system that ostensibly evolved to better support the PSVR. The other thing I knew, is the Pro would devalue the original model of the PS4.

The notion that some games would perform better on the Pro model didn't sit well with me. Again, I'm in favor of more power, but not when it puts a divide among owners of the same generation hardware. When developers see they get a better result on the Pro model, they will be inclined to develop toward that as the base standard - even if Sony promises all games will play on the standard PS4.

PS4 Pro Boost Mode

Now we have Boost Mode coming as an update for the PS4 Pro. This will allow older games to maintain higher and more stable frame-rates. Games that are patched or optimized for the Pro hardware will have additional benefits as well. It's already happening. Boost Mode puts unnecessary separation between standard and Pro games as developers craft games to perform on the more powerful console.

Battleaone VR for PS4 Pro Sony stated that developers are not permitted to create game versions for the Pro model that couldn't be replicated on the original console, but we all know how that will go. Given that console generations are growing longer, any way to expand within that confine will be taken. Thus, those early adopters (for the first 3 years) of the PS4 will be getting a substandard experience compared to those who purchase the PS4 Pro.

With the poor sales of PSVR, I'm sure Sony is looking to find good reason to tempt shoppers into the more expensive PS4 Pro model. Boost Mode promises better experiences for Pro owners. And what about all of the standard PS4 owners... well, tough luck. Watch the divide widen as time marches forward, during what may be another long console generation. I'm curious to know if the same scenario is true for Scorpio buyers.

Future Of Console Divisions

I've read a few articles in which analysts speculate these interim console updates may be the business model for future game consoles. I find that hard to believe. If we know an update is coming soon, why buy now? How many interim models can there be within a generation before game incompatibilities render early models obsolete? Won't this breed a planned obsolescence cycle as seen in the automobile industry?

I don't find interim hardware releases beneficial to gamers from a financial standpoint. If you're laden with cash and can afford to buy new hardware on a regular basis, this may prove beneficial to you. But the poor sales of PSVR speaks pretty loudly about consumer's limited desire to routinely buy $400 hardware. I also don't see how this could go on without causing compatibility confusion in the market.

I love consoles and hope they continue to find space with in the gaming industry, but multiple updates to the same tech, seems financially unreasonable. We need a "Coleco" to swoop in and shake things up!

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