Don't Expect Most of Your Old Games to Get Updated for PS4 Pro
If you've been hoping your favorite titles are suddenly going to start running at 60 frames-per-second on Sony's new hardware, think again.
'Rise of the Tomb Raider' image courtesy of Sony
When Sony announced the PlayStation 4 Pro, a long-rumoured hardware upgrade centered around games at 4K resolutions, the company revealed that a number of previously released games would receive patches to take advantage of it. Since then, VICE Gaming has asked publishers about plans for PS4 Pro patches—the results have not been encouraging so far.
It's not surprising that recent PS4 releases like Deus Ex: Mankind Divided will be updated, a process that Sony is dubbing "forwards compatibility". But that games like Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor, released all the way back in September 2014, will also see enhancements via patch.
During the PS4 Pro event, a number of games confirmed support, including Battlefield 1, Call of Duty: Black Ops III, Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare Remastered, Days Gone, Deus Ex: Mankind Divided, The Elder Scrolls Online: Tamriel Unlimited, Farpoint, FIFA 17, Final Fantasy XV, For Honor, Ghost Recon: Wildlands, Horizon: Zero Dawn, Infamous: First Light, Killing Floor 2, The Last of Us: Remastered, Mass Effect; Andromeda, Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor, Paragon, Rise of the Tomb Raider, Spider-Man, Steep, Titanfall 2, Uncharted 4: A Thief's End, Watch Dogs 2 and The Witness.
That looks like a huge list, right? But it's largely games coming out later this year and beyond—a timetable where it's less troublesome for developers to add support. It's harder to rationalise spending time, money, and resources on enhancing games that are no longer big sellers.
Even when the PS4 Pro was just a rumour, personal development sources didn't express much enthusiasm for the hardware. That calculus hasn't changed since Sony formally revealed their plans, helping explain the lack of news regarding patches for games, old and new. My understanding is that more games will receive "forward compatibility" patches in the future, but expect them to centre around games where Sony's been a development or marketing partner.
In the meantime, I made a list of the biggest PS4 releases in the last few years, games that people might be interested in playing at a higher fidelity. Here's what I heard (and didn't hear):
Blizzard (Overwatch, Diablo III)
Nothing to report now, but they definitely left open the option to add support in the future. "We don't have any announcements to make," said a company spokesperson, "but we constantly evaluate new technologies as they appear and prioritise their support amongst the other items we have planned for our games."
Sony (Bloodborne, Flower, Journey)
The company did not respond to my request for comment, but I'd kill for Bloodborne at 60 frames-per-second. Maybe we'll get something with the seemingly inevitable Bloodborne 2. If you're wondering why I didn't ask about games like The Last of Us: Remastered or Uncharted 4: A Thief's End, it's because the wizards at Naughty Dog are already on it.
CD Projekt RED (The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt)
The company did not respond to my request for comment, but the studio is known for going above and beyond in the past, so I wouldn't rule out the possibility of them taking advantage of it.
Konami (Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain, PES 2016)
A company spokesperson had "no comments to share at this time." So, probably not.
Rockstar Games (Grand Theft Auto V)
I didn't hear back from Rockstar, hopefully because they're too busy working on Bully 2?
Ubisoft (Far Cry 4, Far Cry: Primal, Watch Dogs, Assassin's Creed Unity)
Ubisoft seems to be focusing on enhancing upcoming games like For Honor, Steep, Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon Wildlands, and Watch Dogs 2, rather than touching its older releases.
"New hardware like the Playstation 4 Pro gives our developers the tools to further innovate in our games," said senior VP of sales and marketing Tony Key in a statement. "With the Playstation 4 Pro, this includes the possibility of pushing our game's graphics to new levels, which creates even more immersive experiences for players."
Bandai Namco (Dark Souls 3)
"I don't have any information regarding patches for HDR or PlayStation Pro features for Dark Souls III," said a company spokesperson.
Then again, developer From Software has never been a technical showcase. If you're looking for optimal performance, you should stick with the PC versions.
"We don't have anything to share about Pro or HDR patches for Minecraft at this time," said a company spokesperson. Then again, Minecraft probably wouldn't really benefit from one.
Electronic Arts (FIFA 16, Battlefield 4, Star Wars: Battlefront, Dragon Age: Inquisition)
Like many others, EA didn't respond to my requests for comment.
"There's nothing planned at this time to release a patch for Rise of Iron on the PS4 Pro," said a company spokesperson. Bungie later said it would consider "looking at" support in the future.
Activision has already confirmed Call of Duty: Black Ops III will receive a PS4 Pro patch, and both the upcoming Infinite Warfare and Modern Warfare remaster will support the hardware.
Bethesda Softworks (DOOM, Fallout 4, The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim Special Edition, Dishonored: Definitive Edition)
Silence right now. Given how long Bethesda tends to support its games after release, it wouldn't be shocking if these games were eventually enhanced.
"So far all we've announced is ESO's [Elder Scrolls Online] support," said Bethesda VP of marketing and PR Pete Hines. "If we have announcements on other titles, we'll let everyone know."
Based on what's been announced, what publishers did and didn't tell me, and what my own sources have whispered in my ear, expect PS4 Pro support to be modest. That doesn't mean it won't be worth buying, especially if you're a brand-new PS4 owner or interested in VR. The question is whether Sony can start turning enthusiasm around in the months ahead, as more people can see the PS4 Pro's upgrades in person. If more players are interested in the PS4 Pro, more developers will inevitably become interested as well.