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By the time you read this the good people at Sony Interactive Entertainment will probably have announced the PS4 Neo, along with a new slim model of the original PS4, at a media event in New York. Certainly, the Neo is interesting enough by itself, but the latter has something of a buzz surrounding it, because at the time of writing (September 2) Sony, for whatever reason, have refused to admit that the slim model is even a thing, even when the proof is right in our faces.
First pictures of the new console were leaked courtesy of a listing from an auction site on August 21, showing how the new unit looks and some of its functionality. A couple of days later, an unboxing video from YouTube user ZRZ gave us an even better look at it, but it was taken down as a result of copyright claims from Sony. But the work of games journalist Laura Kate Dale really takes the cake; not only did she manage to buy a slim PS4 off eBay, but she wrote a full review and made an unboxing video, confirming beyond a shadow of a doubt that this thing is real and you will probably be able to buy it soon.
I’m pretty sure someone over at PlayStation HQ is red in the face over this. They shouldn’t be.
Leaks like this happen all the time. It’ll come up whenever the latest iPhone model is around eight months old, starting the hype train for all the Apple fanboys. Whether it’s from the factory or a retailer that doesn’t mind breaking the street date, it happens, and it no longer surprises me when it does. Hell, I am surprised the PS4 Neo or the Nintendo NX haven’t been leaked in any meaningful way, even though I’m pretty damn sure they’re coming. There are also plenty of media outlets, especially in the gaming press, desperate for anything like this that will give them clicks and views, meaning more precious ad revenue, and there’s audiences out there equally desperate to gobble it all up.
The real test comes when companies affected by leaks have an opportunity to respond. It’s kind of a tough spot: once the information is out there, it is difficult to bring under your control, potentially damaging your reputation depending on the circumstances. In this case, Sony have said nothing official and are unlikely to until the media event on September 7, which has made them look a little foolish. The aforementioned takedown notices were some unnecessary dickishness, but they seem content at the moment to just let the wave of hype build up some momentum until they can ride it without too much trouble. Laura’s review is still up, and it seems as though it will stay, and since it’s some damn fine journalism it should stay.
I get it Sony, you wanted to show off your new toy, but someone decided to steal your thunder and show it off instead. Just put it out and don’t be a dick about it, okay?
By the way, in case you’re curious, the slim PS4 actually looks kind of nice. It’s not really an improvement over the current model in terms of performance, which is a bit of a shame, but it should provide a cheaper option for those on a budget. The more notable changes include the removal of the optical port (which the audiophiles can worry about), an accessible bay for easier hard drive replacement, and a light bar on the controller. Other than that, it’s a smaller PS4, nothing more.