When the PlayStation 3 launched for $699.99 CAD, I could understand and justify its high cost. I had a built in Blu-ray player and actual PlayStation 2 chips were included in the box. It also came with specifications that were comparable to the Xbox 360.
Early third party results were poor. Many titles had poor frame rates compared to their Xbox 360 counterparts; some operated at half the framerate even. The hardware was complex and the software development tools were abysmal but as time marched forward, technical gaps narrowed.
One of the secrets to closing the gap was the PlayStation 3’s Cell. Developers used some of its many SPE’s to augment the relatively weaker RSX. But despite the increased familiarity and advancement in tools, in order to get favourable results on the PlayStation 3, Sony’s platform had to be the lead. And if that was the case, the PlayStation 3 version usually earned a narrow victory in Digital Foundry’s famous “Face offs”.
The early results for the Xbox One are not so hot. Of all the high profile games, only one is running at 1080p60. Every other exclusive and major third party release is running at 900p or lower. I have no problems with 900p but settling on 720p for so many titles this early on is a bit worrying.
I presume Microsoft will improve their tools and developers will become accustomed to utilizing the Xbox One’s ESRAM configuration but all the tricks in the book could not possibly make up for the hardware deficiency. There’s no SPE or unconventional powerful hardware that they could harness to make up for the lack of actual hardware power.
Now this normally wouldn’t be worth noting but the Xbox One is in the unique position of being less powerful and more expensive. It may be more capable than the PlayStation 4 with the Kinect Sensor and TV abilities but those two things aren’t as compelling as the Blu-ray player. I’m trying to phase out cable TV and the Kinect isn’t exactly something that I was hankering for.
It’s an interesting situation and I’m very curious how third parties approach it. Early signs are that they’re just going to make the best game the can on each console. They are not going for parity here and for future PlayStation 4 owners, that’s good news. I just hope they keep it that way.