Microsoft and Sony have both mentioned that their respective next-gen consoles are capable of hitting 8K resolutions- but many are not convinced. That skepticism is fair, to be honest, because companies making promises in the build-up to console launches that they do not live up to is a time-honoured tradition in our industry.
The PS4, for instance, claimed to be able to hit 4K, but it wasn’t until the PS4 Pro that it was finally able to do that (and even then, most of the time it couldn’t do native resolutions). Given that, how much weight should we give to the promises of 8K with the PS5 and Xbox Series X?
Recently, we had a long chat about next-gen, the state of the industry, and a lot more with Franciso Aisa Garcia, a Naughty Dog and Rockstar alum who’s now working as Senior Gameplay Engineer on a mystery project at Microsoft’s youngest first party studio, The Initiative. We asked for his take on the matter of 8K, especially from a developer’s perspective- and as per Garcia, whether or not PS5 and Xbox Series X can hit gameplay depends entirely on the developers.
Garcia explained that though both consoles are technically capable of 8K, to hit that target, games might have to make compromises in other areas – which is far from unheard of in games development – and so whether or not games hit that resolution would depend on how hard their developers are willing to push for it.
“It’s difficult to say, to be honest, because like you were talking about the PS4 being able to push 4K, it can, it’s more about where you want to put your boundaries,” Garcia said. “If you push really hard on a lot of systems, for example, pushing up to 4K will be difficult, at least if you want to do it natively. So it’s always a question of trade offs – how far do you want to go, and how much benefit do you actually get from going 8K?”
Garcia added that that’s going to be true for the upcoming consoles as well- though developers can strive for 8K if they want, in doing so, will they choose to make compromises in other areas. Garcia hopes that focus should instead shift to higher and more consistent frame rate counts.
“My specialty lies on gameplay and AI, not graphics, so I couldn’t tell you for a fact, but I do know these consoles are capable,” he said. “I think from my point of view, it’s more about where you want to draw the line. Would you rather push for 8K but scale down other systems? Or would you rather push those systems, but scale the graphics down to 4K? It’s a lot like framerate, you know. I personally feel like most games should strive for 60fps, but it’s a tradeoff, would you rather push for 60fps and then scale down on other things? Or the other way around?”
It’s not news to anyone that in the months leading up to releases of new consoles, hardware manufacturers go a bit wild with their promises, and though they may be true on paper, we don’t effectively see them being made good on until a few years into the console’s life (at the earliest).
8K might sure be an interesting prospect, but with 4K not even being the industry-wide standard right now, it’s hard to imagine 8K becoming too widespread in the immediate future. Like Garcia said, we hope developers make use of the added power afforded to them by better hardware to focus on performance instead of resolution.
Xbox boss Phil Spencer has said that that’s what Microsoft wants to do with the Xbox Series X, so we’re optimistic. We’re already seeing hints of that in some early next-gen games. DiRT 5 will feature a 120 FPS mode on both PS5 and Xbox Series X, while Gears 5 is targeting 120 FPS in multiplayer on Xbox Series X. Meanwhile, Gran Turismo producer Kazunori Yamauchi has spoken in the recent past bout wanting to targeting 120 FPS or even 240 FPS in the future.
Among many other points of discussion throughout our chat, Garcia also spoke to us about whether or not the raw power of the PS5 ad Xbox Series X would make much of an impact on games on its own. You can read more on that through here. Our full interview with Garcia will be live soon, so stay tuned for that.