Sony released a new firmware update for the PlayStation 4 today—a nice round number, 6.0. Such point-zero updates often mean big new changes for a platform, which is what fans were hoping for. This wishlist possibly even included name changes, because PSN users are nothing if not imaginative dreamers. Unfortunately, the update did not bring name changes with it, or any other new features, leaving many PS4 players in disbelief.
“Either there is some huge hidden feature announcement coming, or this is the biggest troll of an update ever,” reads the top comment on the post about the new firmware over on the PS4 subreddit. Its official description simply reads, “This system software update improves system performance.”
In response, someone on a ResetEra forum thread on the subject wrote “Why wasn’t this 5.6 if it’s just stability? Something is awry,” a sentiment shared by others who are confident there must be another shoe to drop, in part due to unverified rumors and mysterious hints by PlayStation employees.
Sony has had a lot of those types of updates. In fact, it’s become something of a running joke. Performance is always getting improved, or becoming more stable, both things that sound good but are extremely vague.
“My playstation is so fucking stable I might get a horse,” quipped one Reddit poster in reaction to the latest update.
Firmware update 5.0, which came out last October, stood out as an exception. In that instance, Sony used the round number to push out new features for following and messaging other users. Even 5.50 added support for custom background wallpapers.
The fact that 6.0 even had a beta test period seemed like a good indication that it, too, might bring noticable changes. Instead, the biggest fix arrived separately late last month when Sony fixed how search works on the PlayStation Store, adding a full on-screen keyboard and the ability to search by publisher name and genre.
It’s always possible that there are hidden changes lurking in the newest firmware that Sony chose not to mention in the patch notes. It wouldn’t be the first time. Firmware 3.5 was full of hidden nuggets like the ability to disable the screenshot notification that pops up after capturing an image. Sony did not immediately respond to a request for comment about whether that was the case with 6.0 as well, and what the logic is behind how its updates are numbered.
My favorite fan theory for why 6.0 was pushed out so fast, even though it only appears to include a small performance boost is so Sony can beat Nintendo to the 6.0 punch. The Switch’s 6.0 update is due out next week on September 18, and will include the launch of its paid online service. Nintendo has its own history of seemingly overzealous firmware updating, hitting 5.0 in its first year out in the wild. Of course, Switch users still can’t change their account usernames, either.
[Update - 9/14/18]: A spokesperson for PlayStation told Kotaku the following:
“System software update 6.00 includes back-end system feature updates, there is no consumer facing-feature in this update.
As for the firmware update number, in previous years we’ve released X.50 updates in spring and X.00 updates in fall, so we followed the same pattern with this update, and numbered it 6.00.”