Rumors have been swirling for a while that the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One are about to be thrown on the junk heap. Said rumors haven’t been terribly outrageous, including the claim the PS4.5 will do little other than add 4K support and better drive VR games. In fact, Microsoft has come right out and stated there’s nothing to the rumors. But that doesn’t mean publishers aren’t asked about them, and EA’s CFO Blake Jorgensen had to weigh in.
Jorgensen was asked about the rumors on an earnings call yesterday, and more or less stated EA hadn’t heard anything. That doesn’t mean much, of course, as Jorgensen wasn’t exactly under oath. He went on to note, however, that if new consoles are coming, that Microsoft and Sony were fairly dedicated to backwards compatibility and that it’s a feature fans very much want. Oddly he also mentioned being “very excited” to see what Sony and Microsoft might introduce this year or next at E3.
This more or less lines up with the logic of console manufacturers. Finding hard numbers for video game consoles can be tough, but the best guesses have Sony at 40 million PS4s moved and Microsoft with roughly half that. Both are leaving shelves at a rapid pace, and selling software, especially on digital stores. It seems unlikely either of them will burn through that much goodwill, or alienate that many developers, by rolling out an obligatory upgrade.
Still, we’re a few years into the life of both, and that’s usually the point where manufacturers freshen their consoles up. Three years after the PS3 arrived, Sony put it on a diet and rolled out the PS3 Slim. And three years after that, the PS3 Super Slim appeared. Similarly, the Xbox 360 got spruced up after five years on the shelves and the current model debuted in 2013. As for backwards compatibility, the Xbox One is rapidly getting on board, while Sony has been unusually silent about PlayStation Now, the game streaming service that was supposed to be better than backwards compatibility. With Sony debuting a VR headset and with Microsoft getting adventurous with Windows 10, it won’t be a surprise if a cleaned up model rolls out.