Hope you have your tickets for the hype express because pictures of the PlayStation 4 Slim have leaked. I never thought we would see a point in technological advancements when we would start being excited for manufacturers selling us the same products squeezed into a smaller plastic housing. This generation has got to be the most misleading and confusing of them all and that is including the times of Sega turning the MegaDrive into Frankenstein’s monster with attachable enhancements. Today we aren’t here to talk about the PS4 Slim exclusively, we are here for the bigger conversation of consoles being revised and revisited. The question at the end of the day is do we even need these products?
Revisions of consoles are nothing new. During Atari’s reign we saw the likes of the Atari 2600 Jr, which was both a smaller and completely redesigned version of the original Atari Video ComputerSystem. It’s important to remember that this was a console that was released in 1978, which means Atari waited till 1986 to release the smaller version. This new version was designed to look more like technology from the decade and was wasn’t advertised as something above the original 2600. The fundamental difference here is that Atari offered this product at a time that was convenient for the consumer, a bit like someone offering you some cake that you enjoyed awhile after you last had it. Sega was another company that shunk their consoles near the end of their lifespan, doing so with both the Master System and Megadrive. Unfortunately for us though, Sega liked to cheap out with their shrunken versions of consoles, as consoles like the Master System suffered downgrades such as only having RF video and the Megadrive 2 not having as nice sound quality.
Sony, despite being the culprit here, also released a slim version of the PS2 in 2004. This console was actually quite impressive as it basically shrunk it’s size down to the thickness of the original ‘fat’ PS2’s disk tray and with the width of one of the games. This also suited consumers as the reduced size was actually a space saver, not to mention the fact that at the time this was one of the most popular DVD players on the market, meaning it was a handy addition to the living room. The PlayStation 4 Slim on the other hand, is the equivalent of being offered new cake with a little extra sprinkles on top all while still trying to eat the first slice of cake.
Don’t get me wrong, Sony aren’t the only ones to blame here. Microsoft have also had their fair share of force feeding consumers resized products. The Xbox 360 had two slim versions during its lifetime, both being pretty similar and with the Xbox One inspired version having less features, such as the removal of the optical port. Weirdly, the original Xbox is the one console that could have been doing with a smaller revision, but of course that would cost money. Nintendo also attempted to gain some extra sales by revising the Wii in the form of the Wii Mini, which despite looking kind of nice, lacks tonnes of features such as built in Wifi. Now this might seem like a big rant about corporate greed and being sold the same products again, and perhaps it is. However the main point I actually want to make is that console revisions aren’t meant to be exciting.
The hype surrounding the media this week in regards to the PS4 Slim leak has been something that has bored me to tears. When watching E3, as soon as I see heavy hitters of gaming rant on about their new smaller consoles, the only thing that actually comes into my head is ‘I hope I never need to buy one of those’. Having bought an original PS4 on launch, I can still safely say that it still feels like a new product to me. It doesn’t feel like something that needed revised or revisited. As for the upgraded spec that allows for 4K video, that is something that actually worries me. When you spend 400/500 of your hard end gold coins on a new system, you expect it to be full of new features, however this time it feels like console manufacturers missed the mark on what the newest tech actually was. This is the reason I am not excited for any new models of this generation’s consoles, they just feel like I have been cheated. Again, it’s not just Sony to blame here with their slim and upcoming PlayStation Neo, Microsoft have joined them in trying to keep up with the Jones’ by creating pointless redesign and trying to tempt us to rebuy our current generation consoles in some form.
The Xbox One Slim, The PlayStation 4 Slim, PlayStation Neo, Project Scorpio: What even are these products? It seems like they’re actually the equivalent of someone building a replica of your house across the street from you, adding a small extension and making the frame a little more stylish. The builders then have the audacity to tell you to buy the duplicate home, despite losing a lot of money on your current home. The thing is, this should only interest you if you don’t actually have a PlayStation 4 or Xbox One already. It’s a boring fact of life that things will change in terms of look, yet function the same, and we really shouldn’t be suckered into thinking that buying into these products is interesting or exciting. Then again, I don’t really care, I’m only here to distract you from the modern era with chat about Atari and Sega Megadrive.