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Why you shouldn’t expect a PlayStation 5 Pro anytime soon

It seems pretty likely that Sony will eventually release a “PlayStation 5 Pro” somewhere down the line. The company has a history of making mid-generation console updates with things like the PS4 Slim and Pro, as well as the PS3 Slim, and there are current rumors suggesting that a new base model PS5 may be coming soon. All that is to say that there’s certainly a precedent for an upgrade coming sooner or later, but Sony has made it clear that if a Pro model is in the works, it’ll be leaning toward the “later” side of things.

Sony hasn’t officially said anything about a PS5 Pro, mind you. Its focus is directed solely toward supporting its current hardware, but that focus does inform some of the context surrounding any other potential hardware releases. Based on the company’s current behavior, it would appear that a major hardware upgrade like that is still years away.

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The PS5’s relationship to the PS4

In an interview with Axios, PlayStation Studios CEO Hermen Hulst recently said that the company is still planning on supporting the PS4 past 2022 on a “case-by-case basis.” Although he didn’t specify which games would also be launching on the PS4, several announced upcoming PlayStation Studios titles such as Marvel’s Spider-Man 2 come to mind when thinking about the potential of cross-generational releases.

This speaks to some frustrations that PS5 owners have had with Sony following the release of the console in 2020. A common critique is that Sony games are being held back from truly taking advantage of what makes the PS5 unique due to cross-generational support. It’s normal for cross-gen releases to take up a lot of space in the early years of a new console generation, but for all of Sony’s talk about how the PlayStation 5 is the company’s most cutting-edge hardware to date, when playing most of its biggest titles, it’s often hard to shake the feeling that you’re still playing a PS4 game … because you usually are.

Aloy looks out over a beach in Horizon Forbidden West.

When thinking about the possibility of a PS5 Pro, all that information helps build the case that it won’t be coming anytime soon. Since there’s not really anything in the PlayStation 5’s current lineup that’s pushing the hardware to its limits due to the frequency of cross-gen releases, it simply doesn’t make sense for Sony to push new, improved hardware that bills itself as being better than what’s already available. As it stands right now, we don’t need anything better, as the PS5 hasn’t really been stretched thin by anything yet.

While there are plenty of great games on the PS5, none of its titles seem to raise questions about what they’d be like if they weren’t restricted to the current hardware in the same way that some games that launched on the PS4 did, like Control or Bloodborne. Some of the technical issues in those games weren’t entirely due to the limitations of the PS4, but it’s easy to see the differences between playing a technically demanding game like Control on a base model PS4 versus a PS4 Pro versus the PS5. With the PlayStation 5’s current lineup, it doesn’t feel like there is anything that would be drastically improved in that way if played on a more powerful model.

There have only been a handful of “true” PS5 games that are exclusive to the system, but even when looking at those titles, only a select few such as Returnal or Ratchet and Clank: Rift Apart feel like they’re leaning into the hardware in any meaningful ways. That’s to say that the PS5 still has a ways to go before it feels like a hardware upgrade would be necessary. We’ve barely even gotten to see the current model in action.

Supporting the current tech landscape

Looking at mid-generational upgrades from PlayStation’s past, it’s important to note that they aren’t always built and sold around games. The PS4 Pro, for example, was more powerful and, as a result, ran games much better than other models. However, a big part of the system was its ability to output video at 4K resolution. For those looking for a crisper image and who had the TVs to support it, the PS4 Pro seemed like a solid investment, especially when considering some of the other hardware issues that the base model PS4 had.

Unfortunately, a potential PS5 Pro currently doesn’t have much outside of strictly gaming-based improvements to hang its hat on as 8K resolution seems to be the next big jump in terms of image fidelity. There are two major roadblocks to marketing a hardware upgrade around 8K, however. The first is that 8K TVs are extremely expensive and not the kind of thing that would be commonplace in people’s homes quite yet. Technology prices tend to start high and quickly get lower, however, so it’s not out of the realm of possibility that they could start dipping below $2,000, but that wouldn’t be likely for another few years.

The other major issue with marketing the PS5 Pro around 8K resolution support is that 8K was already a part of the base PS5’s marketing. Despite that, the PS5 still isn’t able to output 8K images. According to a blog post right before the launch of the PS5, 8K resolution will eventually be brought to the console in a system software update in the future.

Something else to keep in mind when thinking about any future hardware releases from Sony is the supply chain problem that has been running rampant through the industry since 2020. While they seem to be popping up more often at retailers, it’s still tricky to get your hands on a PS5 if you’re not following stock updates dutifully. Since there are still abundant supply chain issues, there’s nothing suggesting that a new model would be any easier to track down than the current one. It doesn’t make sense for Sony to be playing catch-up with two consoles’ stock issues instead of just focusing on keeping base model PS5s on shelves for longer than 10 minutes.

When looking at the specifics of exactly what a potential PS5 Pro would bring to the table currently, it really doesn’t have very much going for it. That, of course, is subject to change as the PS5’s life span continues, but based on Sony’s continued support of the PS4, the fact that PS5 games aren’t pushing the boundaries of the hardware, and that there aren’t any current major gaps in the PS5’s hardware, it’s clear that a Pro model is still pretty far from becoming a reality.

There are plenty of uncorroborated rumors suggesting that the PS5 Pro could be coming as early as next year, but given the facts, that feels unlikely. It seems like the very earliest it could be coming is 2024, but there would need to be a lot of necessary changes in both the games that are appearing on the system, as well as the overall entertainment technology landscape, for it to truly find its legs and be able to justify its existence.

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