So what will the “PS5 Pro Enhanced” label mean for PS5 games, exactly?

Leaked information points to flexible but also questionable requirements from Sony – here’s why


The PS5 Pro is coming at some point over the next few months and developers are given a wide range of options in terms of optimizing their games for it. Too wide a range to be of actual value to consumers, maybe? (Image: Sony)


Another day, another report confirming prior information leaks about the PlayStation5 Pro, Sony’s home entertainment system that’s expected to be available worldwide later this year. This one comes from The Verge – which gained access to the same documentation published on Sony’s developer portal a few others did in February or March – and it outlines in detail how the company plans to assign the “PS5 Pro Enhanced” label to various PS5 games in the future. There are some reasonable choices Sony made on that front, as well as some questionable ones, so they are both worth a look.

According to The Verge‘s Tom Warren – and Tom Henderson of Insider Gaming before him – Sony would like developers to ideally aim for all three aspects of modern game graphics quality with the PS5 Pro. The company would have them essentially create a special rendering profile for the new model: one that’s targeting 4K resolution via PSSR upscaling and is delivered at 60 FPS while also including raytracing in some form or another. That’s clearly easier said than done – even for a PlayStation system with a more powerful GPU and a custom AI co-processor as the PS5 Pro will be – especially in the case of visually rich titles many gamers are into these days.

That is why Sony apparently decided to be rather generous when it comes to the “PS5 Pro Enhanced” label and how it’s assigned to future PS5 games. In short, any game offering almost any kind of PS5 Pro-specific optimization gets the label. Does it deliver more frames per second at the same resolution than those delivered by the base PS5? It gets the label. Does it deliver a higher resolution at the same frame rate than the one delivered by the base PS5? It gets the label. Does it add raytracing effects without improving frame rates or resolution? It gets the label. Even games that increase their target maximum resolution or their target frame rate – compared to an equivalent fixed resolution or fixed frame rate on the base PS5 – get the label.

Sony has opted to not enforce strict technical requirements before, in the case of the PS4 Pro, with rather mixed results. At the end of the day it all comes down to individual development teams and publishers to leverage the extra power of an improved PlayStation or not. (Image: Sony)


There’s an exception to that rather forgiving set of rules and it is this one: if a PS5 game only manages to just deliver a more stable frame rate on the Pro model compared to the base model, or if it just hits a higher ceiling in variable resolution on the Pro model compared to the base model, then it does not get the “PS5 Pro Enhanced” label. Whether Sony draws a line there because there’s hardly any development work involved in achieving those improvements or simply because there had to be a basic set of requirements in place, it’s unclear.

On one hand, how Sony opted to define its “PS5 Pro Enhanced” label is technically not wrong: any improvement a PS5 game will be offering when running on the Pro model is welcome, regardless of the development work needed or the actual difference it makes in the context of an interactive entertainment experience overall. It’s the same approach Sony followed with the PS4 Pro back in 2016 and, truth be told, the generous nature of those requirements did not seem to ultimately mean much: development teams did what they could – or were willing to do – with the extra horsepower of the Pro model compared to the base PS4… and that was pretty much it.

On the other hand, in 2024 terms, the whole point of purchasing a PS5 Pro – one would think – is to enjoy clearly superior versions of the same games playable on the base PS5. Titles getting the “PS5 Pro Enhanced” label by just adding any kind of raytracing effect or by only targeting increased frame rates or resolutions could easily lead to disappointing results and consumer confusion. In order to avoid that, Sony could have set a more firm, more ambitious set of requirements for that label, one that would allow PlayStation fans to expect a substantially improved gaming experience when playing a title on the Pro model.

People are tired of having to deal with “Quality” and “Performance” modes that only target – but often do not achieve, not in meaningful way – certain frame rates and resolutions in PlayStation games. Sony may have missed an opportunity to right some wrongs here with the PS5 Pro. (Image: Sony)


It’s not hard, for instance, to imagine Sony asking of developers to always include a locked 60 FPS mode option (concessions in graphics quality would obviously have to be made) or an actual 4K mode option (even at 30 FPS) in all new games when running on this new PS5 model. PlayStation gamers would then be able to assume that the PS5 Pro will deliver those two self-explanatory modes in titles labeled as “PS5 Pro Enhanced”. It would be tremendously helpful for consumers if the industry finally dispensed with the vague “performance targets” thrown around by game publishers: numbers that, in all honesty, often seem to not mean all that much in practical terms anyway.

Sony clearly does not want to enforce a baseline, though, when it comes to resolution, frame rate or raytracing effects with the PS5 Pro. It’s understandable choice, but one that may cause problems prove just as problematic in the future, greatly diminishing the perceived value of the “PS5 Pro Enhanced” label. Too early to call this a mistake on Sony’s part? Only time will tell.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR


Kostas Farkonas

Veteran reporter with over 30 years of industry experience in various media, focusing on consumer tech, entertainment and digital culture. No, he will not fix your PC (again).

Veteran reporter with over 30 years of industry experience in various media, focusing on consumer tech, entertainment and digital culture. No, he will not fix your PC (again).

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