After three years, Sony (SNE) is back with an update to its highly-successful PlayStation 4 game console, but critics are saying that's all the PlayStation 4 Pro may be -- an update, and not necessarily a replacement.
Priced at $399, the PlayStation 4 Pro promises better graphics via 4K resolution, HDR lighting and updated hardware. Users will need a 4K/HDR TV in order to take advantage of the ultra high definition visuals, but PlayStation has said it will upgrade some existing games to be graphically compatible for free.
The device should help Sony sustain its lead ahead of Microsoft (MSFT) in the video game console sphere. Sony's PlayStation 4 has largely dominated against Microsoft's Xbox One since it was also released in 2013. In May, Sony said its PlayStation 4 sales surpassed 40 million units worldwide, while Microsoft has stopped reporting Xbox One sales numbers, according to Business Insider.
For its part, Microsoft is releasing its own 4K-equipped console, called Scorpio, next year.
The Scorpio and PlayStation 4 Pro show Microsoft and Sony's need to "prop up sales" since their last consoles were released three years ago, said TheStreet's technology columnist Eric Jhonsa.
Both the Xbox One and original PlayStation 4 have processors supplied by Advanced Micro Devices (AMD) , a company that also stands to benefit from Sony's newest console, Jhonsa noted.
The PlayStation 4 Pro, as well as other offerings like the subscription service PS Plus and cloud gaming service PS Now, should deliver more users to the PlayStation ecosystem, said Morningstar Analyst Kazunori Ito in a recent note.
"We believe these attempts will contribute to lengthening the cycle of the current PlayStation generation, and more importantly, constituting an ecosystem which will help maintain existing users on the next generation platform," Kazunori added.
Kazunori believes PlayStation shipments will peak at 23 million units in fiscal 2018, helped by an increasing user base of Sony's PS Plus service.