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Report: Sony preparing to launch 4K-capable “PS4.5”

Sony may be preparing to release a more powerful version of the PlayStation 4 with extra graphical firepower. According to a report from Kotaku, Sony has begun briefing game publishers on its plans for the new hardware in recent weeks, including at a series of meetings held at the Game Developer’s Conference in San Francisco this week.

Citing multiple anonymous developer sources, the report states that the primary difference between the so-called “PS4.5” and the current model would be an upgraded GPU. The more powerful hardware would allow developers to make games that run at 4K resolution. The current PS4 can play videos and show images in 4K, but games only run at 1080p.

An upgraded GPU would also make the console a more capable VR computing solution. Depending on the nature of the upgrade, the new hardware may level the playing field between PlayStation VR and the more demanding Oculus Rift and HTC Vive headsets, which run in conjunction with PCs and have highly demanding hardware requirements.

Related: Whether or not there’s a new console, a PlayStation VR bundle will set PS4 owners back $500.

Kotaku did not receive information on when the new PlayStation 4 would launch, or how much it would cost. However, one source apparently described the meeting as “exploratory” and implied that the device would likely not launch this year. It is also unclear whether or not  Sony will offer an upgrade path for players who own the original version of the PlayStation 4.

The news comes just a few weeks after Xbox chief Phil Spencer told the press he believed the future of console gaming would involve “upgradable hardware” and an iterative release cycle similar to the smartphone market.

“We can effectively feel a little bit more like we see on PC, where I can still go back and run my old Doom and Quake games that I used to play years ago, but I can still see the best 4K games come out and my library is always with me,” Spencer said during the Xbox Spring Showcase earlier this month.

Between the new PlayStation 4, Spencer’s upgradable Xbox tease, and the Nintendo NX console (which some believe may launch this year), there is now reason to believe all three console manufacturers have new hardware in active development.