Whenever we get to the mid-point in a current generation console’s life, there’s growing discussions of what comes next. We all expect a PlayStation 4 and an Xbox 720, but the introduction of motion controllers, and the high cost of developing and manufacturing a new console has everyone thinking Sony and Microsoft may try to extend the life of existing consoles for as long as possible.In the case of Sony, they may even try to make the PlayStation 3 stick around as the base for its next gen machine. Speculation as to that happening comes in the form of a patent the Japanese company has been awarded.The patent covers attaching an external processing unit to an existing device such as the PS3 giving it access to more processing power. The combined unit would make for a better performing machine without the need to buy a whole new console.If Sony were to release such a device it would extend the life of the PS3 by making it more powerful while at the same time keeping development costs low. For gamers, it would mean an additional investment in hardware, but nowhere near the cost of a brand new machine.Read more at PlayStation LifeStyleMatthew’s OpinionWhile it may not class as a PlayStation 4, more of a PS3.5, it would allow Sony to continue making a profit on the PS3 hardware while selling gamers more performance if they want it. Inevitably they’d end up bundling the new bolt-on unit with the PS3, but that’s not going to be hard if it’s quite a small piece of kit.The problem is it may confuse the market. Gamers need to be convinced to upgrade, but developers need to create games that take advantage of the unit rather than targeting just PS3 owners. Sony will have to incentivize that, and it could also allow games that recognize the extra performance is available to use and additional features then kick in.While I realize how expensive buying a new console is, I think I would prefer a real PS4 rather than an upgrade. I also don’t think Sony would be willing to take the risk of attempting this, especially if Microsoft turns up with a brand new machine on the market.