As Kotaku writer and unfortunate New York Jets fan Jason Schreier exposed to the world a few weeks ago, I’ve been pestering him for about a month about whether or not I should buy a PlayStation 4. This morning Sony announced the PS4 Pro and the PS4 Slim, and Jason finally told me that the time had come. One of these new models can stream in 4K and HDR, allowing you to have “high-fidelity graphical experiences.” The other is small and cute, and is therefore the perfect video game console for me, a video game doofus.
The primary upgrades that the PS4 Slim offer over the PS4 are price and size. Both consoles have the same guts, but the Slim is well, slim, while the PS4 looks like a hunk off the monolith from 2001: A Space Odyssey. I want a PS4 to occasionally tool around on Overwatch or slowly work my way through an action RPG like The Witcher 3. If I can do so without buying an unwieldy obsidian slab, all the better.
I’m sure that if you are, say, good at video games, you might pay for the higher streaming capabilities of the Pro. Being able to stream games in HDR sounds cool. But that extra $100 doesn’t really matter if your video game ambitions start and end with, “Blow off steam; try to own obnoxious former coworkers.”
My primary console experience is either rigging Madden to try and rack up the highest score possible, or playing Ratchet & Clank on PS2 about a decade ago. I have never played a first-person shooter. I don’t want a video game experience involving competition against the hordes of racist 14-year-olds online or twitchy shooting mechanics or immersive sandbox style games that make me feel like I’m actually walking around Hyrule. If you’re a video game idiot, you don’t need these things. The PS4 Slim has plenty to offer the hardcore gamer, but unlike the Xbox or the new Pro, it’s also cheap, small, and unobtrusive.
Arguing for a video game console on its physical merits feels like rooting for a terrible sports team because they have cool uniforms. The guts of the system are what really matters, and the box they’re bundled up in is pure window dressing. But for the neophyte, this matters. I feel more at ease buying and dealing with a small little console than a stylish chunk of hyper-processors.
The Slim is a totally adequate model that will run all the same stuff that the PS4 did, but announcing it in the same event as the Pro sets it apart as the console for more casual players. I’m all for this schism, because it will allow serious gamers to get bored plodding around No Man’s Sky in the most pristine video quality known to mankind, while also letting me get in on the ground floor of gaming at a lower price. You don’t have to be a video game doofus to like or appreciate the PS4 Slim, but if you are one, it’s perfect for you.