Those of you who follow console news will no doubt have heard of the PS4 Pro, which is the new beefed-up version of the current gen Sony platform. While some fans consider the Pro to be a tad feature-thin to justify the upgrade, enough new hardware was packed into it that would warrant special enhancements to be applied to certain games - but will GTA 5 be among them?
Basically, instead of being an upgrade centered just on resolution and frame rate, the PS4 Pro can handle higher graphical fidelity, better textures, more lighting and particle effects and much, much more. Basically, the Pro is capable of displaying improved graphics over the regular PS4. It's also larger and decidedly uglier. However, logically, since those PS4 games that were released prior were developed for the regular PS4, they do not make use of the additional resources.
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Sony has come up with a system that was not present in the past-gen to allow existing games to make use of the additional hardware while ensuring that future releases would still run optimally on non-Pro consoles. Those games that opt-in will have special patches that optimize them for the PS4 - meaning improved graphics - that can be downloaded separately. If you have a Pro, you can use these patches to bring older games up to speed.
A number of games have already opted in. The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim Enhance Edition and The Last of Us, for example, both have free Pro Enhancement patches which (allegedly) boost graphics and improve performance on the newer iteration of the console. Unfortunately, in the case of TLoU, this backfired and the game runs like ass on the Pro, but the intention was there.
A number of other publishers and developers have jumped on board with this model, and chances are most future PS4 games will have Pro Enhancement patches. However, there has been no word about whether GTA 5 will get Pro enhanced. Granted, Rockstar is usually mum about things until relatively close to release, however they would greatly benefit from such a move.
Rockstar has already released three distinct versions of GTA 5. While the differences between versions were many, the most noticeable changes were visual. The Enhanced Edition was the version release for the Xbox One and Playstation 4. This edition of the game featured graphical improvements over the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 versions, as well as adding the first person camera and some further minor changes.
The real game changer was the PC version. The port was very well optimized - a true marvel these days - meaning that low to mid graphical settings allowed it to run on pretty much every machine out there. The higher settings, which utilized the better hardware present in high-end PCs, in turn, provided the best visual experience GTA 5 players could possibly hope for.
The PC version also introduced the Rockstar Editor, which has since been ported to the current-gen consoles versions, as well as modding support. While the latter had some pretty notable downsides, namely rampant hacking in GTA Online, the single player modding scene is lively and the Online issues were dealt with - harshly.
This history considered it would hardly be out of character for Rockstar to release yet another version. That said, we're not talking about a whole port here, just a visual improvement patch, meaning it would be a smaller investment on the developer's part. However, considering the popularity of GTA, this might just be the thing that PS3 owners need to convince them to upgrade.
We've previously discussed in depth the reasons for GTA 5's massive success. After all, the topic was timely following the recent report that the game's sale figured broke the 70 million mark, not counting digital sales. The game is also bringing in over $700 million in profits every year, making it one of the most profitable pieces of entertainment in human history - and definitely one of the most lucrative games.
The topic was discussed by us in various posts multiple times, but here's the gist of it - the success of GTA 5 on such an unprecedented level can be attributed to the series' mainstream recognition, the massive marketing campaign and staggered release schedule. The latter provided the game's sales a boost by giving it the launch-day sales spike three times over, and it kept the game relevant.
Now, if Rockstar were to announce a PS4 Pro Enhancement patch and give it the air of a new release, they'd experience the same kind of boost to a lesser extent. For all intents and purposes, this would mean an updated version of GTA 5 would be released on a fresh console. It would make the game "new" again.
Such a move will definitely boost buyers. How many PS3 players skipped the PS4 waiting for something like the Pro? If GTA 5 gets Pro Enhanced, chances are a much larger percentage of that audience will buy in. As said before, the game gained the bulk of its sales not from people who follow gaming news, however an ever increasing audience falls somewhere in between the "casual" and the core gaming spheres.
These players, while not widely interested in gaming as a whole, do follow news related to the select few titles that they play. Chances are many players who follow the Rockstar Newswire aren't core gamers, but rather "consumers of video game entertainment who do not identify as gamers". GTA 5's success is increasingly attributed to this layer.
The PS4 Pro is both a step forward and a step back. While the gap between the upgraded and non-upgraded console is as large as it ever has been in mid-gen revamps, it still lags behind Project Scorpio, which is the Xbox One equivalent. While Sony blew Microsoft out of the water at the beginning of the generation, a number of policy changes and new features pushed the Greens ahead of the Blues.
In any case, the GTA community can only benefit from this. Don't plan on getting a PS4 Pro? No problem, the development and release of an Enhancement patch won't affect you negatively, nor in any other manner. Do you, or will you, own a PS4 Pro? Even better! If Rockstar decides to pursue this venture, you'll be soon playing the game with even better visuals - though still not quite on-par with PC on high settings.
While the current model of PS4 Enhancement patches includes the possibility of these visual upgrades being paid content, no publisher has so far opted to take cash for the service, and all patches so far were free. Rockstar will likely opt for the same route, as charging for a patch would earn them much ire, however the boosted sales and microtransactions would already make the project profitable.
GTA 5 is already lauded as one of the best-looking games out there - even five years after release - while also shattering sales records all over. Especially with the impending release of Red Dead Redemption 2, people assumed the golden days were over, but Rockstar could still profit much from keeping the game relevant.
Would you like to see GTA 5 become PS4 Pro optimized?