There are a number of current rumors about potential upgrades to the current PlayStation 4 and Xbox One home consoles. These rumors are stronger on the PlayStation 4 side, where outlets like the Wall Street Journal are talking about a more powerful PlayStation 4 launching alongside PlayStation VR in October.
Those rumors have been mirrored for the Xbox One. Microsoft itself lended some credence to the idea of an upgraded Xbox One when it announced the Universal Windows Platform. Back in early March, Xbox boss Phil Spencer noted that the UWP would allow Microsoft to separate system software and hardware, meaning consumers could see the Microsoft platforms upgrading like smartphones.
"In other [consumer technology] ecosystems you get more continuous innovation in hardware that you rarely see in consoles because consoles lock the hardware and software platforms together at the beginning and they ride the generation out for seven years or so," said Spencer at the time. "We're allowing ourselves to decouple our software platform from the hardware platform on which it runs. We'll see us come out with new hardware capability during a generation and allow the same games to run backwards and forward compatible because we have UWAs running on top of UWP. It allows us to focus on hardware innovation without invalidating the games that run on that platform."
Some are pointing to a Microsoft visual designer's LinkedIn profile as proof of another Xbox on the horizon. Despite that, Spencer recently shot down rumors that were could be seeing an Xbox 1.5 or Xbox One S anytime soon.
"I'm not a big fan of Xbox One and a half. If we're going to move forward, I want to move forward in big numbers," Spencer told GameInformer at Microsoft's Build 2016 Developer Conference. "I don't know anything about any of the rumors that are out there, but I can understand other teams' motivations to do that. For us, our box is doing well. It performs, it's reliable, the servers are doing well. If we're going to go forward with anything, like I said, I want it to be a really substantial change for people – an upgrade."
Once again, despite the outlets confirming a potential PlayStation 4.5, we don't know if those rumors will pan out or what shape the system would take. If Sony jumps ahead, there's no guarantee consumers will follow. And if they do follow, how does Microsoft not jump ahead as well?
A significantly more powerful PlayStation 4 is a big shift in our status quo, we just don't know what direction that shift will take us in. If Sony moves, Microsoft may be forced to respond. And that doesn't take into account whatever Nintendo does. Qhile Microsoft may not do an Xbox 1.5, there's nothing saying the bigger jump to an Xbox Two isn't possible.
2016 is going to be interesting, folks.