Sony recently announced a new line of 4K displays, each with far more resolution than anything on the market using a single screen. The display is a bit larger than previous flat screens, but it makes up for it by having an incredible 3840×2160 display size as its standard resolution. While that’s not exactly 4K, it’s still a really impressive resolution. This announcement begs the question—will Sony be supporting this technology with its next console? They’d be fools not to, since it’s a technology that they’re investing in. However, if they do opt to support it, they might be in for another difficult generation with their next console. They’d be going down the same road as the PS3 traveled.
4K support for the PS4 would likely put it at the top of the market. The Wii U might have HD games and the XBOX 720 might have fancy displays and controls, but the PS4 would have pure power behind it. The ability to render modern games real-time at 4K resolution is something only the best PCs can do. It would certainly build the PS4 its niche among both developers and consumers. Focusing on raw power has worked for the past few generations, and it might work again—but the strategy is not without a flaw.
Including 4K support would vastly increase the price of their next-generation console. The PS3’s launch price was an incredible $600, and we might expect a similar price for a new Sony console if they intend to support 4K real-time rendering. What’s more, developers may not be able to keep up with the console. As it is, developing for the PS3 is a huge hassle—you’re given tomes of guidelines for the machine, and it’s in a coding language most developers are unfamiliar with at best. Increasing the complexity of the system also means increasing the difficulty of learning it, and developers might have a hard time programming for it while consumers would be driven away by the price.
Ultimately, the point of a new console is to offer a machine that can’t be matched by anything else on the market. The PS3 has plenty of untapped potential, as Sony executives are fond of saying, and many of its games run at just 30FPS when it can support up to 60FPS. This means there’s plenty more to the PS3. The inclusion of 4K gaming in the next console would mean an increased ceiling for developers to work under—they don’t need to use all of the space or power that the machine offers, but using even half of that power might be a leap up from the current generation.
The console would be more expensive, just as the PS3 was the most expensive this generation, and it would have stiff price competition if it launched at a reasonable price. However, the PS3 didn’t exactly fail this generation—it still puts out plenty of console exclusives and impressive games, and has been able to keep up with the other consoles of this generation. While it may not be the best-seller, if Sony stays on the route it’s on, the PS4 will have just as much success as the PS3 next generation.