Update: Sony responded to Kotaku’s original story saying, simply, “We will not charge consumers for patches.” That still leaves a lot of things vague — will third-parties be able to charge for patches? What if these upgrades are called something other than “patches”? What was the Sony representative quoted below talking about? The whole situation remains rather unclear.
On Wednesday, Sony unveiled the PlayStation 4 Pro, a new suped-up model of their flagship console that will bring 4K resolution, HDR support and other visual upgrades to upcoming games. They also introduced the concept of “forward compatibility” whereby already-released games will be upgraded for the PS4 Pro via patches. Now, when PS4 architect Mark Cerny brought up forward compatibility, he didn’t specify whether or not you’d have to pay for these upgrades, but he certainly seemed to imply these would simply be free patches. Well, it turns out that may not be the case.
When Japanese gaming site Game Impress Watch asked Sony Interactive Entertainment exec Masayasu Ito whether forward compatibility will cost money, he had this to say…
“It will be different for each title. I believe it will depend on the thinking of each [third-party publisher].”
Okay, so third-parties can change for patches. But what about Sony themselves?
“I think it will vary for each one of our titles.”
Ruh oh. When a company like Sony says “You may have to pay for something,” that typically means “You’re almost always going to have to pay for something.” Of course, this was taken from a Japanese interview, and translation issues may have come into play – some speculate Ito was talking about charging publishers to issue patches. That seems like a bit of a stretch, though.
Charging for these upgrades would be in line with usual video game industry standards. Sure, simply flipping the 4K switch on a game might not be too hard, but Sony implied some games will apply new rendering techniques and effects to improve their visuals on a basic level, and that isn’t cheap or easy. Publishers have been making bank off “remasters” for years, so why stop now? Unfortunately this raises the specter of a future where publishers release hobbled versions of games for the base PS4, then charge PS4 Pro owners a premium for the “true” version of the game. It just feels like this whole thing hasn’t been thought out as well as it should have been.
The PlayStation 4 Pro hits shelves November 10.