4K and the Console Gamer

John Archer, writing for Forbes:

What every single person who gets caught up in these hilariously petty arguments fails to recognise is that actually the PS4 and Xbox One are both past their sell by dates. In fact, they’ve been living on borrowed time from the very day they launched. Why? Because neither of them truly support 4K.

This argument might initially seem a stretch to ‘normal’ people not involved day to day in the inner workings of the AV industry. But I’m confident that within as little as 12 months most of you will agree that their inability to deliver games at a ‘4K’ or Ultra High Definition (UHD) resolution of 3840×2160 pixels – or something close to it, at least – will make both the supposedly ‘next generation’ consoles feel like yesterday’s news.

I don’t know anything about John Archer or his qualifications so I take his opinion about 4K penetration with a grain of salt. However, I would love to believe that 4K will be taking the speedy and monumental strides Archer claims. Relinking to my (premature) excitement about the adoption of 4K.

But where does this fit in with console gaming? Contrary to Archer’s argument, I don’t believe the core console gamer will put up much of a fuss as long as 1080 is the maximum render their console of choice offers. If anything, there will be a continued and tired assault from PC gaming enthusiasts as to why this is a sign that PC gaming is better. Though he’s speaking on the software front, I believe the points made Polygon’s Chris Grant on console software’s generational obsolesce are relevant.

I won’t lie and pretend that the resolution differences between the Xbox One and PS4 don’t bug me. Even if a huge difference between the two can hardly be seen, there is discomfort in knowing that the specs of the Xbox One can’t quite keep up with the PS4. This coming from a guy that continued to enjoy the original Wii long into the PS3/Xbox 360 cycle. But when the difference is as stark as two-fold, graphical comparison must be shelved and each individual system taken on it’s own merits. Metroid Prime 3: Corruption was a hell of a sight on Wii. Likewise, The Last of Us seemed to be on another level against other PS3 titles. That said, it is a far cry from saying core gamers will be upset about not performing at 4K if neither of the HD Twins can perform at that rate.

I won’t hold my breath, but wouldn’t it be something if the Wii U’s successor rendered 4K resolutions in time for the next-gen Legend of Zelda?

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2 thoughts on “4K and the Console Gamer

  1. Pete Wells says:

    4K requires expensive new displays – particularly when it comes to the living room, where most console gaming happens.

    It requires exponentially more expensive and powerful consoles at a time when the market is demanding cheaper, more energy efficient devices.

    It’s more expensive for developers because of the need for higher resolution textures, etc. Which means tighter margins or more expensive console games. Not to mention that 4K gaming would render digital downloads of games impossible for 99% of users.

    And the distance from screen for most use cases (except pro-gamers with PC monitors hooked to their consoles) means the gains to be had a relatively small. (From what I understand the serious gains from 4K are for screens above 65″, but correct me if I’m wrong…)

    So the question is, who wants 4K? The manufacturers of the displays, but basically no one else. I expect it to become a niche like 3D TV has ended up.

    • kylestarr says:

      Thank you for the input. Good take. Though, I’m still questionable about 4K being niche, especially at the extreme of 3D. The potential for optical maximum is tempting. Though, to your point, 1080 may be enough for the majority of the mass market, console gaming aside.

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