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    Thread: Hypothesis: The xbox one/ps4 console generation will be a transitional one

    1. #1
      The Knight TranquilityTrip's Avatar
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      Lightbulb Hypothesis: The xbox one/ps4 console generation will be a transitional one

      (Before we get started I should note that I am a very big gamer and slight tech nerd. I am also not a graphics "whore" but I do have standards.)

      A few months ago the PS4 and the Xbox One were released to record breaking sales. Despite these sales however, many who are interested in computer hardware found the new consoles quite wanting. These ps4 and xbox one specs are as follows:
      PS4:
      Custom AMD 8-core Jaguar cpu clocked at 2.75ghz
      Custom AMD gpu equivalent to a Radeon 7850
      8gbs of GDDR5 RAM
      Xbox One:
      Custom AMD 8-core Jaguar cpu clocked at 1.75ghz
      Custom AMD gpu equivalent to a Radeon 7770
      8gbs of DDR3 RAM
      32mbs of ESRAM

      To put those specifications in perspective, a smartly built $700 pc would be orders of magnitudes more powerful than either of these consoles in all areas except RAM. Now one may argue that by definition this computer would cost $200+ more than either the xbox one or the ps4 and, therefore, it should be more powerful. Yet the previous console generation told a different story. When the Xbox 360 and the PS3 were released in 2005 and 2006 respectively, they were some of the most powerful gaming machines money could buy. Only the highest-end pc's of the time could claim dominance.

      Why would this be considering the current gen consoles are being sold close to the original prices of the the previous gen consoles? The answer, the current gen consoles are being sold at a profit or near-profit. That may sound strange, as one would expect to make a profit off one's own product. However, last generation the xbox 360 and the ps3 were sold at operating losses of roughly $75 and $120 respectively.
      They could do this because Sony and Microsoft make most of their money on these consoles through licencing fees on every game sold on their consoles. What they lose in hardware manufacturing costs, they hope to make up for in software sales.

      This generation is different as they expect to see profits immediately (or at the very least, limit their losses to basically $0). To do this, they needed to gimp their hardware to a certain extent, which is why we're being left with consoles that can't even run certain games in 1080p at 60fps (though it can for most games). Pc gaming on the other hand has had 1080p-60fps as the standard for years now.

      But I don't believe that's the whole story. I believe this console generation is actually just a transitional one that will lead us into true next gen in a few years. Although 1080p has become the standard resolution for computer monitors and television sets, it won't be the standard forever. In fact, we are already seeing 4k tv's and computer monitors becoming more affordable by the day. Soon 4k will be the standard.
      This has created a problem however, because only the most powerful consumer-based pc's on the planet can run games like Bioshock Infinite or Crysis 3 at 4k resolution with acceptable framerates.

      I believe this is exactly the same problem Microsoft and Sony found themselves in. Either of them could have easily developed a console that could run any video game at max settings, 1080p, and 60fps. However it would have required a big investment (not an enormous one, but a relatively large investment nonetheless). A large investment requires time to pay off, time they may no longer have.
      By the time these hypothetical consoles could net them a profit, 4k will have been the standard resolution for years. Microsoft and Sony would find themselves behind on the resolution revolution AGAIN (they had already completely missed the rise and peak of true hd).

      Yet therein lies the problem, they couldn't build a console that was both capable of 4k gaming and affordable for the every man. They als couldn't keep riding the xbox 360 and ps3, which had already overstayed their welcome by about 2 years. Their solution? Build a console that will do for about 4-5 years until the hardware for 4k gaming becomes affordable. Then release a 4k gaming console that will last 8-9 years.


      Atleast... that's the theory. I'm not so sure this is the case, but I think their is some circumstantial evidence that may point in this direction. And if I'm completely wrong and no one reads this? At least I got to practice my typing and grammar skills (which are absolutely horrid) xD.

      tl,dr: Theory: Perhaps current console generation hardware is inherently weak because it serves to transition us into the next generation of consoles that will be based around 4k gaming. Which is quickly becoming the standard.
      If it's not? Then I guess we'll have to deal with 1080p gaming for the next 8 years.... with many games not even managing 60fps (Killzone for ps4) and some straight up being 720p (Ryse and COD for the Xbox one) *sigh*.
      Last edited by TranquilityTrip; 01-22-2014 at 12:25 PM.
      LouaiB, TimeDragon97 and Whatsnext like this.
      My Lucid Dreaming Motto - "I have walked upon the the surface of a burning star. Observed events so infinitesimal and instantaneous that they can barely be described as having occurred at all. You... you're just a dream character. And this world's most powerful dream character poses no more threat to me than it's smartest cupcake." - Dr. Manhattan (kinda)

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      I don't have much faith in the new console generation. As far as I can see, Oculus Rift and SteamOS are going to kill it off within a year or two. PC gaming will provide you with a much stronger machine, more and cheaper games, VR and flexibility.
      LouaiB and Original Poster like this.

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    3. #3
      The Knight TranquilityTrip's Avatar
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      Quote Originally Posted by Marvo View Post
      I don't have much faith in the new console generation. As far as I can see, Oculus Rift and SteamOS are going to kill it off within a year or two. PC gaming will provide you with a much stronger machine, more and cheaper games, VR and flexibility.
      Funny enough, Oculus Rift is another piece of technology that I think strengthens my hypothesis. With the divided refresh rate for each eye piece, more computational and graphical power is needed to render both screens (because it basically doubles the required fps, same as in 3D gaming). Neither of the current gen consoles seem to have the power needed to render a graphically demanding game on what basically amounts to two screens. This won't matter too much however, if the current gen consoles are going to be relatively short lived.
      Last edited by TranquilityTrip; 01-22-2014 at 01:00 PM.
      My Lucid Dreaming Motto - "I have walked upon the the surface of a burning star. Observed events so infinitesimal and instantaneous that they can barely be described as having occurred at all. You... you're just a dream character. And this world's most powerful dream character poses no more threat to me than it's smartest cupcake." - Dr. Manhattan (kinda)

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      The Rift (and other VR tech) is actually going to push the envelope. For a good VR experience, you need more than 60 FPS. Right now, Oculus is aiming for 90Hz refresh rate in their consumer release, supposedly. It tremendously reduces perceived motion blur. I think the most obviously consequence will simply be a deterioation in graphics. Basically, in order to jump to higher resolutions and framerates, we have to sacrifice how good looking our games are. That's simply the nature of things. I don't think it'll be a problem though, when the Rift is released later this year (or possibly very early next year), we should have some pretty powerful hardware, and Bioshock Infinite grade visuals will be what we have to settle for, which is ok.

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    5. #5
      Xei
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      I never got why motion blur was a bad thing. That's how our eyes work in the real world; if something moves quickly, or our heads move and the entire environment moves quickly, the image is blurred across our retina, and our brains are used to interpreting that information. If instead of rendering something at 240 fps, we blur each block of 10 frames together into 1 frame and play it at 24 fps, it looks very natural. This is why Pixar animation has always looked so good.

      Anyway, my brother has a PS4, and there's a simple problem: there are no particularly good games on it. Almost all of the blockbuster titles have been made for PS3s and then ported over with just higher resolution and the like, and to my eye they look very unimpressive. And none of those games does anything interesting or new. The most fun I've had on it was playing a free indie game called Resogun. But currently the console's just gathering dust. It seems like the console people have become very complacent.

      Steam Machines could have been a knock out blow if they'd been sold at a price similar to consoles, but currently they look like typically expensive custom PCs. Unless Valve sells their own machines at a loss, I don't see them doing much, not for a couple years at least, when they'll really outperform consoles for the same money.

      The Rift may well shake things up a lot, and its natural home is the PC. If there are a slew of innovative or blockbuster PC titles making full use of it, there could be a real sea change in how most people look at consoles and PCs.

      In any case consoles won't survive as separate entities for very long. This might even be the last true generation. Xbox already moved a long way in this direction, by no longer marketing itself as a console, but rather an all-in-one box which manages all media from games to film and music, and with internet, communications, and other functions - essentially a user-friendly PC for your TV. The line between the two is now very tenuous.

      A decade from now, I imagine there will just be a range of different "TV PCs", which all do essentially the same thing. Maybe Sony and Microsoft will continue to sell their own version. But the real marketplace will be in peripherals - the Rift, and Valve's experiments in controllers and VR tech being prime examples - and of course in software and games. That should be a pretty cool time.

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      Quote Originally Posted by Xei View Post
      I never got why motion blur was a bad thing. That's how our eyes work in the real world; if something moves quickly, or our heads move and the entire environment moves quickly, the image is blurred across our retina, and our brains are used to interpreting that information. If instead of rendering something at 240 fps, we blur each block of 10 frames together into 1 frame and play it at 24 fps, it looks very natural. This is why Pixar animation has always looked so good.
      Then you have not used an Oculus Rift. Any amount of movement will cause stupid amounts of blur and smearing. It's actually a well documented problem, and Oculus has made big strides in mitigating it. The solution they have found is called low persistence, which basically means they only show you each frame for a few miliseconds (2-3) and then switch the display to darkness. Normally, the image stays on there until a new one is ready, which resulted in the user technically getting incorrect imagery for a relatively long time (up to 15 miliseconds, if not more). You can observe this behaviour on any traditional display (except CRT), by simply panning some text around, or looking around in a game. While stuff is moving, details get smeared and blurry.

      On a deeper level, it also has to do with our ocular vestibular reflex. When we turn our heads, our eyes automatically and instantly counter rotate, in order to stay perfectly fixed on whatever we're focused on. When stuff is lagging behind where it should be 90% of the time, this results in our brain just going "bluahrhrh" and blurring everything out, until we are still. It also results in eye strain and headaches.

      The trade-off is that you need relatively high framerates, otherwise you'll get a flickery image. On top of that, 90 FPS looks a lot smoother than 60 FPS.
      Last edited by Marvo; 01-22-2014 at 07:41 PM.

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    7. #7
      D.V. Editor-in-Chief Original Poster's Avatar
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      I agree, these consoles were released to hold people over and keep the money flowing in while research is being done into virtual reality and stuff.

      But keep in mind that consoles are actually sold at a loss, the companies draw their profit from licensing games. It's the Printer&Ink business method. They make consoles more affordable than their PC counter parts because they know the games will rake in the real cash.

      Everything works out in the end, sometimes even badly.


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      What games? Ryse? CoD Ghosts?

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      tlbdr (too long but did read)

      All bow down to your PC overlords!

    10. #10
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      Quote Originally Posted by Marvo View Post
      What games? Ryse? CoD Ghosts?
      60 dollars a game on like 15-50 games rakes in a lot more cash from each customer than 200-800 dollars spent once. Printer. And. Ink.

      I was thinking more about this though and realized the technology for the xbox one is pretty gimmicky. You get voice commands and stuff but nothing really innovative compared to what's becoming possible. The PS4 is a bit better but even the PS4's graphics can't touch PC graphics and they'll just look pathetic given a couple more years.



      Yep, definitely a transitional generation.

      Everything works out in the end, sometimes even badly.


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