The PS4 Neo and the Xbox One Scorpio are now confirmed, and they represent a dramatic new paradigm for gaming console hardware, as well as console game development. Since these are early days, there will obviously be teething issues, as everybody struggles to find their footing- but on the whole, the move to iterative hardware is expected to be for the better.
However, Arran Seaton, from Monothetic Games, and currently working on Beacon, has warned about the potential flip side to these new machines- he has voiced a fear that a lot of detractors of the concept of iterative consoles have had for a while now, which is that developers may end up compromising on the base versions of their games in order to get the most out of these new machines.
“I’m hoping both Sony & Microsoft keep a strict policy on the output of ‘vanilla’ PS4/XB1 versions of games being as fully featured and stable as possible,” Seaton said. “Ideally, it will just function like the quality settings you are provided in PC games. The baseline consoles will run at the equivalent of ‘medium’ spec, whereas Neo/Scorpio games could target ‘high/very high’. Though, in reality, I have no idea if that will happen. It would be a disappointment if developers decide to use the performance gains to essentially brute-force past certain stuff to hit targets, instead of optimizing with both hardware models in mind.”
And what could these improvements and performance gains, made with both models of a console in mind, be? Seaton had some suggestions there, too.”Theoretically, I can imagine we would be looking at improvements such as higher resolutions, or being able to provide options like downsampling, higher quality anti-aliasing… more gibs. We’ll see when we cross that bridge.”
It will certainly be interesting to see how developers handle these upcoming SKUs- hopefully, they will turn out to be more like the Gameboy Color, which is probably still the best and most successful instance that we have had of a mid life spec bump to a system.
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