We’ve seen it before, and now we’re seeing it again. Another multiplatform game, in this case Tomb Raider: Definitive Edition, performs with less impressive technical statistics on the Xbox One. In a long podcast with Gamertag radio, Microsoft Director of Product Planning Albert Penello touched on some of those controversial topics for which his platform has been getting so much flak.
“I believe that the difference in the boxes [PS4 and Xbox One] is not that great and I know what’s going on behind the scenes and I probably have access to more information about some of this thing than a lot of people. Sometimes I think people tend to neglect the points that are in my favor and they like to highlight the points that tell me that I am wrong. Right now, I still think Ryse is still the best looking game on any platform. Period. End of story.”
The language here is important, as it always is with execuspeak. “The difference…is not that great” is as close as an admission to the fact that there is a difference as we’re going to get. I agree with him that Ryse was the best looking launch title, but if we’re going to look at any graphic deficiencies as launch anomalies, it’s only fair to look at advantages in the same way. So the fact that Ryse is a great looking game is proof that the Xbox One can still make great-looking games, but not that it has any advantage over any other machine.
“Everybody wants to focus on, you know, there’s a frame rate thing going on in Tomb Raider, there is a resolution thing going on and, okay, there’s a lot of reasons why that could be true but we’re weeks in,” he continued. “We just shipped, it’s a long generation.”
As I said before, it has become clear that the Xbox One is less powerful than the PS4, and that power difference can have clear effects on the quality of multiplatform games. There are too many recent examples to chalk it up to developer particularities. With that information, we’re left with two questions: how will that power difference continue to effect multiplatform games throughout the generation, and how will that affect sales?
Graphics improve throughout any generation as developers learn their way around new hardware, but the PS4 will benefit from that just as much as the Xbox One. I wouldn’t be surprised if we continue to see resolution and framerate bumps on the PS4 versions of multi-platform games, even if exclusives are still bound to show off more powerful machines more than anything else. We’re all waiting to see what Naughty Dog can do with the PS4.
Which brings us to sales. I’ve long argued that graphical prowess doesn’t matter nearly as much to the broader market as it does to the gearheads (the other day I said that 30 FPS looks better than 60 in some circumstances, which apparently is a very controversial opinion), but graphical prowess combined with a lower price point makes for a deadly combination. A quick Google would convince the interested layperson that the PS4 has a power advantage, reinforcing the easy notion that saving $100 is a pretty good decision.
The Kinect and TV-ready OS remain the two biggest differences between the consoles, and Microsoft has to really make that Kinect necessary technology to justify the price. Luckily, both platforms have been selling scads of consoles, so they’ve both got room to play.
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