Sources close to the development of games for the PS4 and the Xbox One—Sony and Microsoft's next generation consoles—say that the former is about 50% faster than the latter. But is it 50% more fun to play with it? (The answer is no, which is why normals consumers don't care about these things at all.)
With about two months to go before the release of the Xbox One and PS4, there’s been a lot of buzz about the performance capabilities of both next-gen consoles. A new article over at Edge has sources apparently familiar with developing for both consoles saying that Sony’s upcoming hardware is more powerful. But the difference in power might not matter much, at least not at launch.
Speaking anonymously, developers interviewed by Edge talked about how the PS4’s component performance makes it faster than the Xbox One:
Our contacts have told us that memory reads on PS4 are 40-50 per cent quicker than Xbox One, and its ALU (Arithmetic Logic Unit) is around 50 per cent faster. One basic example we were given suggested that without optimisation for either console, a platform-agnostic development build can run at around 30FPS in 1920×1080 on PS4, but it’ll run at “20-something” FPS in 1600×900 on Xbox One. “Xbox One is weaker and it’s a pain to use its ESRAM,” concluded one developer.
Microsoft has been aggressively contesting claims like the above, as seen earlier this week. But the most intriguing thing about the Edge piece is the suggestion by said anonymous developers that a cross-platform game might be held back from looking or performing better on PS4 so as to not anger Microsoft:
One source even suggested that enforcing parity across consoles could become a political issue between platform holders, developers and publishers. They said that it could damage perceptions of a cross platform title, not to mention Xbox One, if the PS4 version shipped with an obviously superior resolution and framerate; better to “castrate” the PS4 version and release near-identical games to avoid ruffling any feathers.
That idea gets a pushback in the very next sentence, though. It’s a good thing to remember that both consoles will still have last-minute tweaks to the various parts that make them work. (In fact, Microsoft's already changed up the guts of the Xbox One at least twice already.) Of course, none of these performance claims will be verifiable until the PS4 and Xbox One actually come out. And, even then, launch-window games won’t necessarily be the best examples of what the new machines are capable of. The shiniest experiences for either console are probably still a ways off and will come only when developers have had more time to get familiar with the quirks of both.
UPDATE: A Microsoft spokesperson has responded to Kotaku's request for comment with the following statement:
“Ten years ago, you could argue that a console’s power was summed up in terms of a few of its specs, but Xbox One is designed as a powerful machine to deliver the best blockbuster games today and for the next decade.
Xbox One architecture is much more complex than what any single figure can convey. It was designed with balanced performance in mind, and we think the games we continue to show running on near-final hardware demonstrate that performance. In the end, we’ll let the consoles and their games speak for themselves.”