Sony reveals PS4 Pro with 4K graphics

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Sony has announced a more powerful version of its PlayStation 4 console at an event in New York City.

The PS4 Pro will be able to render games with ultra high definition 4K graphics.

A cosmetically redesigned, slimmer PlayStation 4 was also announced and will become the standard device.

One analyst said releasing an upgraded console so soon after the PS4’s debut in 2013 took the company into “unchartered territory”.

Sony typically makes cosmetic changes to the PlayStation between major releases, but this is the first time it has sold two consoles with significantly different graphics capabilities during the same generation.

“We realised that for the very highly-discriminating gamer there is always a desire for advancement, and they want it in this generation,” said Sony’s Andrew House.

The PlayStation 4 was released less than three years ago, alongside rival Microsoft’s Xbox One.

Microsoft has already released a slimmer iteration of the Xbox One that can play 4K videos, but it cannot render ultra high definition games.

The firm is already developing a new console, dubbed Project Scorpio, that will support virtual reality and 4K games.

“We are entering unchartered territory as Sony releases a more capable machine in the middle of a console generation,” said Ed Barton, principal analyst at Ovum.

“They seem to be turning their back on the old console economics of cycles. They used to get the core fans in first, but really make big money when the price of the hardware dropped and appealed to the expanded market.

“Now they are giving the hardcore gamers a reason to upgrade early.”

This is a developing story – more to follow.

Key games consoles in history

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Magnavox Odyssey: The Odyssey is credited as being the first commercial video games machine for the home. It could only render a single vertical line and three white blocks at a time, so owners had to attach a plastic overlay to their TV to provide the layout for its games.

Atari 2600: Atari’s first console to let owners swap in different games cartridges launched alongside nine titles including a Blackjack simulation and the Video Olympics – a cartridge featuring dozens of different variations of its “bat-and-ball” Pong arcade game. But it was 1980’s release of Space Invaders and 1982’s Pac-Man that cemented its success.

Nintendo Famicom: Launched in Japan two years before it became the NES in Europe. Nintendo provided a “seal of quality” for authorised NES games, helping restore confidence in an industry that had become beset by poor quality releases. Notable titles including Super Mario Bros, The Legend of Zelda and the original Final Fantasy – all of which remain huge franchises.

Sega Mega Drive: Sega’s third console – known as the Genesis in the US – proved a much bigger hit outside its home nation of Japan than within. It formed a launchpad for the firm’s mascot Sonic the Hedgehog – but only after plans to give the character fangs and a busty human girlfriend were ditched.

3DO: One of the first consoles to offer more colourful 32-bit graphics and the ability to play videos and music as well as games. However, the 3DO was a flop, largely due to its high price. The problem was that its developer licensed the right to make the console to other firms but did not give the manufacturers a cut of software sales, leaving them dependent on the hardware alone for profit.

Sony PlayStation 2: The PS2 remains the bestselling console to date and was only discontinued in 2013. In addition to offering exclusives – including Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas and Gran Turismo 3: A-Spec – it also doubled up as many people’s first DVD player.

Xbox 360: Microsoft’s console was the first to offer 1080p high definition graphics and built-in wireless connectivity for its controllers. It also helped popularise the idea of using the net to download games and connect with other players via Xbox Live, as well as introducing the Kinect motion control system.

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