The Future of Console Gaming
Since the dawn of console gaming, there has been a proxy war being waged behind the scenes. PlayStation versus Xbox with Nintendo desperately trying to win its own battles, every generation the battle continues. Each system tends to borrow pieces of technology from one another, but they also bring their own secret weapons to the table with each passing generation.
The future consoles, the PlayStation 5 hasn't been confirmed yet, but the PS4.5, otherwise known as PS4 Neo, has been confirmed. The Xbox 2 has made an appearance at E3 2016 under the code name "Project Scorpio." Microsoft is taking a bold step forward, while Sony is playing their cards close to their chests. What does it all mean?
Will Sony soon rebuttal with the PS5, or will PS4 Neo act as the next generation console instead? Are cycles even going to continue? These questions and more are about to be answered!
How Does PS4.5 (PS4 Neo) Affect Everything?
We should start by discussing the elephant in the room: PS4.5. For a long time it was only a rumor, but just before E3 2016, PlayStation President Andrew House confirmed the existence of the PS4 Neo. He also said the rumored 4K console would not be at E3. This was his reasoning:
"Really very very simple: Just as was the case with PlayStation VR, we feel it's important to show people the new hardware, the new platform when we've got the full range of experiences that can take advantage of it."
That makes total sense, but with all the talk of console cycles going away, is the PS4 Neo a sign that we'll never see a true PS5, but a series of upgraded consoles instead? To this question, House responded:
"To be very clear, the high-end PS4, code-named Neo, that we are working on is an addition to the existing line-up, not a replacement. And perhaps we have an opportunity to move slightly away from just a static console that remains absolutely the same for a period of six, seven. eight years, and perhaps offer, in addition to the current PlayStation 4, something a little extra. Particularly – and I should stress this – in the area of graphic fidelity and games that will essentially play an awful lot prettier than games have previously."
Apparently, previous generations have lost gamers to PC in the later years of a cycle as the console's hardware starts to wane. The existence of PS4 Neo is meant to combat that, not replace the PS4.
This still leaves room for a PS5 down the line, it almost guarantees it in fact. Sony wants people to get value of their machine and most likely develop something that will crush Microsoft's next-gen offering when the time is right. In fact, I believe that Sony was purposefully waiting for Microsoft to show their hand so that PS5 could counter Xbox 2.
With that in mind, let's take a look at what kind of technology the PS5 could use once the PS4 and the PS4 Neo have finished their respective cycles.
Sony Focuses on Games and Experiences
In our article entitled “The Future of Entertainment” we discussed a probable vision for the PlayStation 5. Utilizing predictions made by Kurzwell for future technology, the vision of the PlayStation 5 came together to form a system that was powered by innovative new processors that are manufactured at a molecular level using nanomachines. These processors will possess the intelligence equal to that of the human mind! It may sound like science fiction, but in less than ten years, it will be a reality.
Looking at technology in the field of virtual storage, we saw that the PlayStation 5 will be equipped with a hard drive as large as twenty five terabytes, which is the equivalent of twenty five thousand gigabytes! This kind of storage would be plenty to hold the massive games releasing on the system. In addition, this storage would eliminate the need for physical discs. With the PlayStation 4, we’ve already seen a transition into the new digital age. Games can be purchased on the day of release and downloaded directly to the hard drive.
When the PlayStation 5 releases, we will also have general access to a new type of optics technology known as Light Peak. This lightning fast internet will be able to download data at a rate of one hundred gigabytes per second! Digital downloads will be playable almost instantaneously.
With new forays happening today in the field of virtual reality, the time of the PlayStation 5 will be heralded with virtual reality that is sleek, immersive, and intuitive. PlayStation has always been at the forefront of gaming with the latest graphics and the PlayStation 3 introduced the first completely 3D compatible system.
Knowing this, it is apparent that Sony has a clear and concise vision of a gaming system that once again will revolutionize the way we play games. With PlayStation 5, you will be submerged into the world of your games with fully 3D virtual reality that you can take with you on the go. The line between the real world and the game world will blur until the differences are no longer apparent.
Microsoft Fires First With Project Scorpio
Microsoft's E3 2016 press conference was one that will go down in history. During this presentation, they confirmed the existence of an Xbox One Slim. This new system has a few new features, but ultimately is the same as an Xbox One.
The final announcement of their show was the one that turned heads. Xbox President Phil Spencer took the stage and teased a new console. He promised that this will be "the most powerful console ever made." A few specs were mentioned like 8 CPU cores, true 4K resolution, VR compatibility, the works.
Phil Spencer said this new console is meant to remove the barriers that exist between innovation and technology. He promised it would contain the most powerful graphics processor every put into a console, and he promised six teraflops of processing power.
It certainly sounds impressive, and it's clear that Microsoft is tired of being look down upon as having the inferior machine. After the teaser and release date of holiday 2017, the experts at digital foundry went to work putting together their own potential Project Scorpio specs.
Here's what they came up with:
- CPU: Eight cores of overclocked Jaguar processors from AMD or equivalent
- GPU: 56/60 GCN compute units at 800-850MHz
- RAM: 12GB of GDDR with 320GB/s bandwidth or more
Impressive to be certain, but as they delved into these specs, it became clear that either Microsoft is going to back down on some of their promises, or they have the means to get more power out of this hardware than a PC equivalent.
For starters, the 6 teraflops of processing power issn't enough to power a native 4K experience. A comparable card mentioned in the Digital Foundry article said that AMD's R9 390X has 5.9 teraflops and struggles to perform at more than 30 fps in 4K on modern titles, let alone next generation ones.
Since the PS4 Neo development kits have already gone out, Sony can't change the specs drastically on their upgraded PS4 console. They could potentially overclock the system's processor, but going on rumors of the system's specs, it's not out of the question to say that Project Scorpio will indeed be more powerful than PS4 Neo.
Even if that's the case, Sony has such a huge lead this generation, they can afford a few years to polish up the PS5 and come out with something that crushes Microsoft's console.
The Verdict: “The Consumer always wins.”
It has been said that competition is healthy for the consumer, because it forces competing manufacturers and developers to innovate and push the envelope. This has been seen time and time again in the continued console wars. The PlayStation 5 will undoubtedly continue Sony’s steadfast focus on creating rich and immersive gaming experiences. Movies and music will follow, but gaming will always remain their focus.
Even so, the competition between these two titans of the industry will forever push the limits of what it means to be a gamer, and I think we can all agree that is, in and of itself, a victory for all.
After what happened with the PS4 vs the XBox One what do you think will happen next? Share your thoughts below.