When Sony unveiled their newest console, the PS4 Pro, at the PlayStation Meeting and touted its 4K capabilities, there was no mention whatsoever of a 4K Blu-Ray player, an omission that did not escape the audience’s notice.
Following the conference, Engadget reporters confirmed everyone’s suspicions: the PlayStation 4 Pro will indeed not include an Ultra HD Blu-ray player. The final spec sheet further affirms that there will only be support for standard Blu-rays and DVDs. Since then, many gamers have been questioning this decision; even Microsoft fired at Sony over it in a tweet, pointing out that the Xbox One S supports not only 4K streaming but Blu-rays as well, and for significantly cheaper.
After the event, Sony Interactive Entertainment head Andrew House spoke to The Guardian and elaborated a bit on the reasoning behind their decision. He explained, “Our feeling is that while physical media continues to be a big part of the games business, we see a trend on video towards streaming.” Fair enough, but is there a reason Sony couldn’t include both? It seems odd given that PlayStation 3 was widely marketed as a Blu-ray disc player, but maybe not if you consider the timing.
Back in April, Sony launched their own 4K movie streaming service known as ULTRA. This service will offer members a variety of 4K films for purchase, including new releases priced at $30. It’s unclear whether this has has anything to do with the PlayStation Pro’s focus on video streaming; it could simply be a measure to keep the price point lower in order to compete with the upcoming Xbox Scorpio. Andrew House denies that the company is taking a reactive approach, though, and insists that they are not even considering Xbox their main competitor at this point. He said data shows that “there’s a dip mid-console lifecycle where the players who want the very best graphical experience will start to migrate to PC”.
Additionally, The Telegraph had an opportunity to interview PlayStation’s global head of marketing and sales Jim Ryan. He said that price was one of the factors considered, but mainly he wanted to reinforce that the PlayStation 4 Pro is primarily a gaming device. “Every design decision is taken with the gamer in mind in terms of specifications, functionality, price and various features,” he insisted. He also went on to reaffirm House’s earlier claim that the trend is toward streaming video services, and said of their target audience:
“…the Pro is going to be very much aimed at the connoisseur gamer, the core gamer, who is more likely to be upgrading from an initially purchased PS4.”
The official PlayStation Blog states, “The Blu-ray Disc Player application, however, will support high-quality upscaling of DVD and Blu-ray Disc content.” So Blu-ray discs will still look better, even if it won’t play them in 4K.
House also stated that it would not be possible to add 4K Blu-ray disc support later via a firmware upgrade, but maintains that this will not be necessary. Whether or not consumers agree with him remains to be seen when the console releases on November 10.
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