Now that Microsoft has reversed its position on the DRM and Internet connectivity requirements to what basically amounts to today’s rules on Xbox 360, gamers have been much more calm, even though small pockets of distrust still exist. In a recent interview, Sony SVP of PlayStation brand marketing Guy Longworth points the next differentiator between PS4 and Xbox 1 : the difference in raw graphics power.
In a recent interview with GI, Guy Longworth said: “We actually think that we’re going to have superior graphic fidelity, but the whole value proposition has to be right. It’s not just about graphic fidelity.” This comment is interesting because it illustrates how Sony is thinking about this particular point, and it shows how things will likely evolve in the next-gen console battle: performance comes back to the forefront.
First, what is G. Longworth basing this on? If you remember our PS4 vs. Xbox 1 article, we went over the hardware features, and basically the specifications of both consoles show a difference of 50% in raw computational power in favor of the PlayStation 4. Obviously, there are other considerations in both systems, but since the memory subsystem of PS4 is also very fast, there’s nothing that could obviously help Xbox 1 close the gap on this one. I said in the previous post that “this [the performance differential] may turn into a real asset for Sony down the road”, and it looks like Sony is already capitalizing on that since it’s an easy message to communicate to the community.
The thing is: at E3, Microsoft showed what I found to be more interesting game trailers, and they were arguably as impressive (if not more) than what Sony had in their own event, so right now, this near-term past does dilute Sony’s message to a point. However, you also need to know that not all Xbox content was running on the actual Xbox hardware. At times, it has been documented by independent E3 reports that Xbox demos were running on PCs, and Microsoft has made no attempt to hide this from the public. Are those PCs reflecting the final product’s performance? We can’t tell.
In the end, we don’t yet know what kind of graphics gap gamers will see while playing, but with everything else being relatively close (1080p, 8-core AMD CPUs, 8GB of RAM, 500GB of storage), a 50% advantage in raw graphics power is hardly something that one could ignore, and it is likely that down the road Sony will be able to prove its point as developers on both sides try to push the limits of each platform.
Will it be a spectacular difference, or will developers just aim for the lowest common denominator? It’s hard to tell, but watch out for games from Sony studios like Polyphony (the Gran Turismo team) or Naughty Dog because they will certainly not hold back. This is going to be interesting to follow, and to watch. The best case scenario for Microsoft is that developers aim for the lowest common denominator, and the worst case would be that they develop first on PS4, then “dumb things down for Xbox 1″…