Please Don’t Bring Back The Console Wars:
I mean, come on. Let’s stop pretending Sony is valiant. If they were so committed to the idea of used games, why didn’t they announce this policy in February? Microsoft made a move and Sony reacted; fine, it was the smart thing to do in context.
But did you notice how every time Sony referred to “used games” they made sure to include the modifier “disc-based”? Did you also notice how Sony, much more than Microsoft, has emphasized the game-streaming capabilities of its new console? If you think that Sony is going to let you freely trade digitally-downloaded and streaming games, which are going to be all games in the near future, I have a piece of swampland in You’re a Fucking Moron to sell you. Sony is not some noble underdog. They are the company that won the last console generation by selling SIX TIMES as many PlayStation 2s as Microsoft sold Xboxs, and the one before that by selling three times as many PlayStations as Nintendo sold N64s. (And, less than 24 hours after receiving an internet handjob for his company’s supposedly benevolent used game policy, Tretton is already walking it back.)
I don’t plan on buying a PlayStation 4 or an Xbox One. They’re both basically PCs – most games will be available on the PC at or around the same time and with Steam I’ll be able to get them at significant discounts.
On the graphics side it’s once again obvious that Microsoft and Sony are shopping at the same store as the Xbox One’s SoC integrates an AMD GCN based GPU. Here’s where things start to get a bit controversial. Sony opted for an 18 Compute Unit GCN configuration, totaling 1152 shader processors/cores/ALUs. Microsoft went for a far smaller configuration: 768 (12 CUs).
Microsoft can’t make up the difference in clock speed alone (AMD’s GCN seems to top out around 1GHz on 28nm), and based on current leaks it looks like both MS and Sony are running their GPUs at the same 800MHz clock. The result is a 33% reduction in compute power, from 1.84 TFLOPs in the PS4 to 1.23 TFLOPs in the Xbox One. We’re still talking about over 5x the peak theoretical shader performance of the Xbox 360, likely even more given increases in efficiency thanks to AMD’s scalar GCN architecture (MS quotes up to 8x better GPU performance) – but there’s no escaping the fact that Microsoft has given the Xbox One less GPU hardware than Sony gave the PlayStation 4. Note that unlike the Xbox 360 vs. PS3 era, Sony’s hardware advantage here won’t need any clever developer work to extract – the architectures are near identical, Sony just has more resources available to use.
This isn’t an advantage that will show up four years down the road when developers have figured out how to program for the PS4. Their architectures are nearly identical – Sony just went with faster parts.
Tim Sweeney, CEO of Epic Games, the makers of Gears of War and the Unreal Engine:
As we’re building games that are an order of magnitude more detailed than the current generation, Unreal Engine 4’s tools combined with PlayStation 4’s hardware enable developers to achieve that in a reasonable amount of time and on-budget. Our console efforts are focused on high-end, mainstream platforms that will be supported by enormous launches and large-scale support by major developers and publishers.
Reads more like an Unreal Engine marketing page than informative reporting.
Penny Arcade – Augurism:
The bump to eight gigs of ram was clearly a recent addition, and there’s a lot of gesticulation toward the more “wibbly-wobbly” and “timey-wimey” aspects of the backend. By the end, though, they showed a machine that was exquisitely tuned to this particular nanosecond.
Couldn’t have said it better myself. Wait, what?
Just kidding. Here’s what Tycho really thinks:
After absorbing the presentation, I feel confident in saying that the Wii U is the last of the traditional consoles, perhaps the last one ever. Sony’s hour-long apology to publishers for the Playstation 3 (coupled with the leaked Durango specs) make this fairly clear. Dedicated PCs with custom operating systems are the future, if not the present; it might be worth taking a moment to really let that soak in.
I agree completely. This is exactly why I don’t plan to buy another game console – with consoles becoming increasingly similar to PCs, I expect that we’ll see more major releases coming to PCs on day one. Also, screw spending another $400 bucks on a new console and $60 on games when already I have a badass XPS desktop ready to go and and a larger Steam backlog than I care to admit.
With all this in mind, there should be no question that Microsoft’s pitch for its eventual new console, right from the off, will be: This plays games, but it’s not for gamers any more than an iPad is just for gamers. Everybody watches TV, so everybody wants an Xbox to give them a heightened experience. If someday you find yourself caught in a downpour and duck into the nearest doorway and thereby accidentally enter a Microsoft store, you would be able to buy an Xbox on a cell-phone style plan, paying $99 for the box if you subscribe to two years of the Xbox Live service. That’s today. What if that’s the whole pitch for the next Xbox? What if Sony’s machine is $500 and Microsoft’s is $100? That would be the Bambi vs. Godzilla of console wars.
The fact that Xbox Live has been a paid service for so long makes this a viable option for Microsoft. People are already used to the idea of paying to play online, and most consumers are fine with paying more in the long run to pay less upfront for the actual device (see: smartphones).