We already know that the PlayStation 5 is due to launch in late 2020, however rumors have been cropping up which suggest that it won’t be the only next-gen console to launch in that window.
Rumors of this second console first cropped up in 2019 when Japanese games journalist, Zenji Nishikawa, claimed that PlayStation 5 Pro will launch at the same time as its base-model PS5. Nishikawa made the claim in a video on his YouTube channel, and while that kind of thing wouldn’t normally be considered a rock-solid lead, Nishikawa has been proven correct in the past with his predictions about the PS4 Pro and Switch Lite.
These rumors then resurfaced in February 2020, when NeoGaf user FXVeteran added fuel to the fire by (also) claiming that Sony plans to release two PlayStation 5 models at the same time: a PS5 Pro and a PS5. According to the poster, the PS5 will be 9 teraflops, while the PS5 pro will be “top of the line” to compete with the Xbox Series X.
Now, while a PlayStation 5 Pro is likely on the cards, we aren’t convinced by these rumors which claim it will release alongside the PS5 – and here’s why.
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It’s meant to be a mid-cycle refresh
The most obvious reason we likely won’t see a PS5 Pro release alongside the PlayStation 5 is because typically hardware upgrades like this are introduced in the middle of the console generation as a way of giving the console a bit of a refresh – and offering players a more premium option to upgrade to.
Take the PlayStation 4 for example. The PS4 Pro released three years after the PlayStation 4, bringing with it a larger hard drive, 4K gaming and a price tag to match. This gave PS4 owners the option to upgrade, while reducing the price of the original console and giving players more incentive to jump into PlayStation. Microsoft did something similar with the Xbox One X.
A ‘pro’ console is essentially a half-way mark between the current generation and the next generation, with the manufacturers acknowledging some advances in tech but without rolling out a whole new shiny console.
So what would likely happen if Sony released a PS5 Pro alongside its base PS5? It’s likely a PS5 Pro would be pretty expensive, so we would likely see players split into two camps: those who spent more and got the ‘premium’ console, and those who paid less for a base console.
Immediately disparities would appear, games would be built to look their best, which would be on PS5 Pro – so those with a base PS5 may feel somewhat left behind, perhaps unable to afford the higher-end option. And the start of a new generation is not when you want to split your player base – if at all.
But that’s not the most glaring issue. As mentioned, the point of a ‘pro’ console is to give the hardware a mid-gen refresh. So if Sony jumps the gun and releases a PS5 Pro alongside the PS5, that means there will either be no mid-gen refresh or they’ll have to make yet another console. And, in my opinion, that’s not Sony’s style.
While Microsoft is planning a family of Xbox consoles for the next-generation, similar to the Xbox One’s of the current generation, Sony has always kept things simple by following a formula that sees it offering the normal console, a slim version and then a pro (harware upgrade). It’s a tried and tested system that has seen them succeed until now. So why change?
While we don’t think Sony will release the PS5 Pro this year, it is worth noting that the next generation is pretty unpredictable. One of the biggest mysteries right now is the PS5’s price.
Sony hasn’t decided on a price for the PS5 but, considering the hardware the next-gen console seems to be boasting, we’re not expecting it to be cheap. That’s where the slim possibility of a PS5 pro at launch could come in. If the PS5 is looking like it’s going to be prohibitively expensive, Sony could opt to offer two consoles: a premium PS5 and a cheaper base PS5.
The premium PS5 could boast everything Sony wanted to put in the next PlayStation, but at a higher cost, while the base PS5 could be a stripped back version with less bells and whistles – but more affordable.
However, as I’ve always mentioned, it doesn’t seem like a smart move for Sony to split its player base right out of the gate.
In my opinion, it’s more likely that Sony will wait around three years before giving the console an upgrade – meaning we would likely see a PS5 Pro in 2023 as the console’s lifecycle is estimated to be around six to seven years. But until Sony officially reveals the PS5, and clues us in on what it’s got cooking, we can only speculate.