Later this month, Sony will have the first crack in the “new console” business with the upcoming PlayStation 4 Pro. No, Microsoft, the Xbox One S does not qualify: The Xbox One upgrade is what the original low-resolution model was supposed to be at launch, so it’s more of a retcon, so to speak.
The PS4 Pro boasts double the output of the original PS4 model’s already beastly computing speed at 4.2 teraflops. This makes the console the only true 4K console gaming experience and the most powerful console ever. It also has access to the PS4 game library and looks to be the better fit to run with the PlayStation VR.
Add that to the already superior Remote Play provided by the PlayStation Vita and it looks like everything’s looking good for Sony. Nothing to worry about, right?
Well, not exactly.
Here comes a new challenger
After being kept away from prying eyes for several months, Nintendo’s next-gen console was finally revealed last month: the Nintendo Switch, formerly code-named as the “NX.” The way the console was kept under-wraps was actually similar to Sony’s with the PS4 Pro.
The Switch is a home-handheld console hybrid with detachable controllers called “Joy-Cons,” which can either be combined to form one controller, or used separately for multiplayer. Inside, the quirky-looking console is running a mobile gaming-oriented Nvidia processor, although the exact specifics are not known yet.
Based on “The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim” gameplay shown in the announcement video, it looks like the processor can hold its own against more powerful rivals. And most notably, Nintendo has returned to roots and is set to use cartridges again as the games medium. Which actually makes sense, given the handheld aspect of the Switch.
The Switch will arrive March next year, only four months after the PS4 Pro. So, should Sony start worrying now about the incoming competition?
PS4 Pro still more powerful
No matter how powerful the Nvidia processor inside the Switch is, there’s no denying that it’s still tailored for mobile gaming. Which means that the PS4 Pro easily lords over it in terms of hardware power alone.
It’s the same thing with the PS Vita and the Nintendo 3DS, in regard to sheer power difference, but that’s a story for another day. Sony has nothing to worry about in terms of delivering the best visual experience for gamers, and it will hold that distinction until Microsoft drops the 6 teraflop-powered “Project Scorpio” next year.
With 4K gaming in tow to go along with the PS VR, Sony offers the most immersive console gaming experience available. It’s actually wise of Nintendo to not even bother going toe-to-toe with the PS4 or even the Xbox One, which really says a lot about their unparalleled innovation.
The games department
Nintendo has yet to announce the launch games lineup of the Switch, which they will do so in an event in January. But based solely on the number of big-name third-party studios that support the Switch like Square Enix and Electronic Arts, it’s safe to assume that the games diversity of the console will be on par to its rivals.
If that’s the case, then Sony still has nothing to worry about, thanks to its ability to render the same kind of games in even better resolution and framerate. Perhaps the only thing Sony needs to worry about are the first-party games from Nintendo’s stable of well-known characters.
The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild is already set to flank the Switch at launch, and based on the gameplay videos released, the game looks stunning. And there’s also the rumored Pokemon game for the Switch, which shouldn’t be taken lightly.
Of course, Sony can counter with their own lineup of first-party games. But arguably, Nintendo’s intellectual properties are more accessible, especially to casual gamers. So if the Switch pulls off a Nintendo Wii and ride the strength of its first-party games, along with third-party ones, then Sony should worry. But not immediately. Maybe after six months.
Deal-breaker may be in overall experience
This is where Sony should seriously worry about. Even with the PS4 Pro’s beastly visual capabilities, the experience isn’t exactly a new one. It’s still the same premise: boot a game, grab the controller and play till dawn in the comfort of your couch.
Based on the things shown in the announcement video, the Switch aims to be more than just your regular gaming experience. While the Switch will most likely feature 720p resolution at best, it makes up for it in its potential to give a brand-new and unseen gaming experience courtesy of its portability.
The Joy-Cons have the potential to provide a multiplayer experience not seen since the golden days of the Game Boy Link Cables. If the Switch’s new gaming concept proves to be a hit similar to the Wii (again) and the Wii Remote, then Sony’s advantage in sheer hardware power may not be enough.
Sony has advantage in release date
In summary, the Nintendo Switch is a real cause for concern for Sony and the PS4 Pro. Especially if consumers have become tired of the same console formula touted by both Sony and Microsoft.
If the Switch turns out to be a runaway hit and blows away the PS4 Pro’s advantage in hardware specs, the good news for Sony is that they have a good head-start to develop a counter. Perhaps they can invest once again on the PS Vita and make Remote Play even better?
Because if the home-handheld concept proves to be the next best thing in gaming, Sony would be cursing at themselves for pulling the support plug on the PS Vita too soon. Also, Sony has the advantage of releasing right next to the holiday season, too. Which always counts for something, right?
So, yeah, Sony should worry about the Switch now. The House of Nintendo looks primed to take the world by storm again with their next-gen console – the same way they did with the Wii and Nintendo DS (which also beat Sony’s technically more powerful PlayStation Portable).
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