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back to article Sony, Microsoft and Nintendo: The big three slug it out at E3

Now that the dust has settled on the maelstrom of gaming news that is the E3 show, it’s down to us gamers to sift through the detritus and choose sides. Why can’t we all just get along, huh? This year’s show was even more brutal than most, with Sony and Microsoft all but resorting to fisticuffs over their PS4 and Xbox One …

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I must admit, as a gamer, I am not sure what the 8th generation will really bring to the party.

Yes, we will have 4K support, but so what? Games on current gen consoles are already pretty eye popping on a large HD tv at the moment and as new SDK's and engines that use them are brought to market, they will only continue to improve.

Perhaps, given the hardware spec of these new machines, MS and Sony are looking towards the future. Will there be a 9th generation of consoles in the same amount of time it took for us to go from 6 to 7?

When it comes to the interactive TV offered in the XBox One, I couldnt care less. If you want smart TV then you probably already have it (is that a fair comment to make?). Sony tried the smart TV(ish) thing a while back with the PlayTV. I didnt see that rushing off the shelves...

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Anonymous Coward

Not really

"Games on current gen consoles are already pretty eye popping on a large HD tv at the moment"

You may think so, if you haven't been exposed to the alternatives, but those of us who play on mid to high range gaming PCs know that great improvements are possible.

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Re: Not really

But generally the 'vast improvements' seen on PC have little to do with the resolution (which is what is being pushed as the sales poing of gen 8) and more to do with advanced lighting, physics and getting a better frame rate. Not to say that the new consoles don't give all of those too, giving 4k of current graphics could probably give us normal HD with the lighting / physics / frame rate we want.

And as my example of the advanced lighting engines. Most mods I've found for PC games which make the biggest difference aren't the texture packs, nor are they the improved models (although some of those are nice) it's normally the advanced lighting features.

I still stand by my assessment though, that future games need to get a higher focus on physics if they want them to be truely immersive.

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So far as I'm aware, 4K support has only been mentioned for video playback (Blu-ray, YouTube, etc), not actual gaming. This coming generation simply brings us up to FullHD gaming, not 4K gaming. (Possibly also FullHD 3D gaming but again I've not seen it mentioned.)

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FAIL

"Spectacular"?!

Microsoft's "spectacular U-turn"? Don't think so. Craven, inevitable, dismal, desperate, belated are words that all spring to mind. But Spectacular? Uh, no. At all.

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Trollface

Re: "Spectacular"?!

Ah no, you see, it was actually Microsoft trying to SAVE us.

They already knew that the NSA etc. would use the always-on Kinnect 2.0 to spy on us, so they deliberately made a shitebox of a console, to minimise the number of people being spied on.

That or they were spectacularly out of touch with public opinion, but you can hardly level that claim at the makers of Windows 8 'the tablet interface for the desktop' can you?

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Anonymous Coward

But what about Windows?

You mention that the XB1 and PS4 are similar beasts, but there's something that has been largely overlooked, the XB1 runs not only the XB1 OS but also the Windows (RT?) platform for its media/app shindigs. So just sitting idle, the XB1 uses over twice the RAM that the PS4 does, meaning less for games.

A game developer chum of mine agrees that this problem is not being given enough consideration as it means cross platform games will be optimised for the XB1s less available, slower RAM, so you won't get the benefits offered by the PS4.

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Trollface

Welcome to our world...

A game developer chum of mine agrees that this problem is not being given enough consideration as it means cross platform games will be optimised for the consoles' less available, slower shared RAM, slower GPU and slower CPU so you won't get the benefits offered by the PC.

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Re: But what about Windows?

So you don't think it was MS's plan knowing that chances are the cross platforms will be developed to the lowest spec machine all along, so make Sony push out a more powerful and therefore more expensive box and have them sell it at a lower cost to make them haemorrhage more cash?

I don't reckon there are many corks popping at Sony just yet.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: But what about Windows?

3x the RAM actually. both have 8GB. The PS4 RAM is the insanely quick GDDR5. The XBone bog standard DDR3.

The XBone uses 3GB for the OS, the PS4 uses 1GB.

GPU-wise it's a similar story, The PS4 has more pipelines and faster paths. It's commonly known in developer circles the PS4 is 50% quicker.

Whilst the PS3 was way quicker than the Xbox360, it was only ever PS3 excluisives that benefitted, as the Xbox held it back on multi platform titles. Not so this time around, the arch is the same, so no free pass for Microsoft to screw over Sony in the same way. Developers will simply turn down the textures and draw distances on the Xbone versions.

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Re: Welcome to our world...

http://www.theverge.com/2013/6/21/4452488/amd-sparks-x86-transition-for-next-gen-game-consoles

" EA Sports boss Andrew Wilson says that one reason none of its next-gen sports games are coming to PC is because Microsoft and Sony's new game consoles are actually more powerful than many PCs in a very specific, subtle way: "How the CPU, GPU, and RAM work together in concert,"

"That might sound suspiciously vague, but we spoke to AMD and it's actually true. The AMD chips inside the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One take advantage of something called Heterogeneous Unified Memory Access (HUMA), GOOD FOR GAMING, GOOD FOR AMDwhich allows both the CPU and GPU to share the same memory pool instead of having to copy data from one before the other can use it."

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Re: But what about Windows?

Not this time. Both consoles are now using the same Craptel architecture, so the upsides on the PS4 box are merely the difference between different PCs. The differences will be that now devs will target the PS4, and simply set the Xbone version for "low graphics" or something like that.

And for the looks of how the market is shaping itself, there's a good chance that PS4 will end up winning this round. It's cheaper, and it didn't piss off the gamebase with the DRM thing. That part is probably going to leave a bitter taste for years, even with MS doing the U-turn and all. Just see how Sony is still suffering from the rootkit fiasco: every time something about Sony comes up, someone will inevitably mention "but does it come with a rootkit?"

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Anonymous Coward

Re: But what about Windows?

True as that may be, there is always the reverse theory, that games will be made for the PS4 and its faster RAM / CPU / GPU, and then once it comes to release ready they'll compress the crap out of textures to make it run on Xone (I like this name far more than xbox 1)

And considering how similar the architectures are this generation, porting games is far easier compared to before when they were so different to one another it wasn't even funny. Which may lead to games coming out faster, or room for more optimization between platforms... actually the 2nd options doesn't make them money so yeah games might come out faster.

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Re: But what about Windows?

Faster/Slower RAM, GDDR5 vs DDR3, it all depends on what you are actually doing with the memory that determines which is actually faster, one is faster for pure graphics workloads the other is faster for general computing workloads. So the PS4 has the graphical edge but Xbox One has the edge in all other functions.

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Re: But what about Windows?

>So the PS4 has the graphical edge but Xbox One has the edge in all other functions.

Reallly? Based on what exactly?

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Anonymous Coward

with both Xbox One and PS4 shaping up so similarly in terms of power

O-Really....? Much faster RAM, more capable GPU, less hungry OS in the PS4...

http://www.digitalspy.co.uk/gaming/news/a483743/ps4-has-50-percent-more-raw-power-in-graphics-than-xbox-one-says-report.html

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Anonymous Coward

Will the 'Xbox 180' and 'PS4' be the greatest gaming experience ever?

Hollywood Blockbusters

Are we moving into a golden era of gaming? The Xbox180 and the PS4 will have next-gen eye watering graphics, but there's huge pressure on the console makers to push big Hollywood blockbuster titles like COD or Halo. Both last releases had few fresh ideas in their multiplayer maps! I've 20 minutes to kill, what'll I play? Bioshock Infinite, Dishonored, Hitman Absolution or Far Cry 3? No, its back to the old reliables: Far Cry 2, Cod4 or Cod2 on PC! Why? Because there's no extra charges for online multiplayer! User maps extend the life of the game, the game engines still look and play good and they support mods.

Creativity:

Unfortunately many game studios folded in recent years. So while it looked like a boom time for gaming the financial grim reaper came calling and the net effect is there's less innovation occurring in the big-title studios. Take Forza Horizons for example. Compare it to Driver-SF or Forza 4 and Horizons is not progress! And Forza 5 allows the game to play by itself- WTF? Overall this pressure to push mega-releases ala Michael Bay like Transformers of the Caribbean sequels, means creativity will continue to fall off a cliff. Therefore innovation in gaming will suffer, and we the gamers will suffer. GTA V and Watch Dogs might herald new ideas, but I'm doubtful. For starters I can't understand why the GTA team didn't try a new theatre i.e. an Italian, French or Asian inspired open world, instead its west coast CA yet again!

Social Gaming

The demographic of this genre leans heavily towards the ladies i.e. the average Zynga user. The social ideas behind the games are clever. But Pinkus helped kill the genre and now he's turning it into a casino?

Mobile versus Monster

I'm a huge fan of monster-sized TV's for gaming. 100 inch TV's are almost here and wall sized are on the horizon. Unfortunately a lot of Indie developers are being forced to go small screen to stay in business, helped by the crushing Hollywood system. The small-screen kills my enthusiasm in gaming. I want detail.. scale... the latest graphics, not something my old C64 can do. But its easier to have Ad driven business models on mobile. Pity, as this creativity could be better applied to the large-screen. Perhaps Valve will bring a compromise, and PC gaming will come back in vogue should the consoles fail to deliver....

The Future

Cloud gaming. The big title makers are proposing organically evolving games part-rendered on server farms on the back-end. What that says to me is that every game could be a potential MMOG. Do I want that? In a non-everyone-has-fibre world- No I don't! Why pay the same cash and get a sub par game experience versus someone on fibre in South Korea... Moreover I'd rather pay for the latest graphics GPU and leverage that to play the game alone, so that even if I'm offline the gameplay is still outstanding. But there is this push to the Cloud, the market is pressing on, and the tide looks irresistible....

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Re: Will the 'Xbox 180' and 'PS4' be the greatest gaming experience ever?

>For starters I can't understand why the GTA team didn't try a new theatre i.e. an Italian, French or Asian inspired open world, instead its west coast CA yet again!

I for one always wanted a sci-fi style GTA... stealing futuristic vehicles like the racing craft found in WipeOut, or some Mechs.

>Unfortunately a lot of Indie developers are being forced to go small screen to stay in business, helped by the crushing Hollywood system.

Many developers - including people like John D. Carmack of iD Software - are welcoming the ability of indie developers to create games without having a budget of $millions. There seem to be plenty of 'AAA' titles available for consoles, despite a rise in 'casual gaming' - be it tablets or Nintendos.

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Re: Will the 'Xbox 180' and 'PS4' be the greatest gaming experience ever?

The hollywood era of gaming can't last, and it probably won't last. Lets fae it, there are companies selling millions of copies of their games and still only just breaking even, or worse losing money. Look at THQ (or what used to be THQ) then look at these smaller devs, telltale games, the minecraft guy, somebody else I can't think of right now.

They spend a few thousand making games (okay more than that) and by the end of it they may not sell millions, but they're making a far healthier profit margin.

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Anonymous Coward

Is the 8th gen needed?

I would say yes. Many current gen games don't run at 1080p. Many don't even run at 720p. Halo 3 runs sub 720p and without anti-aliasing and that is over 5 years old. Sure, programming techniques and SDKs are improving, and some of the latest games look great, but there are many that just look shoddy compared to the same titles on the PC.

Ok, not running at full hd makes no difference to the enjoyment that comes from a games, but you could argue the same about all generation gaps. It wasn't this generation that brought in online gaming. This generation only cemented it. Last generation also have tonnes of new peripherals (eye toy, guitar controller, bongos, etc). This generation has only added to it.

I'm all for next gen but I probably won't get any of them.

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Happy

Re: Is the 8th gen needed?

Aaaah, I dream of a next gen Donkey Konga/Taiko no Tatsujin with wireless bongos... must check if the latter PSP game is on the Japanese PSN...

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Is the 8th gen needed?

Then you bought the wrong console. As on PS3 plenty of PS3 exclusives are 1080p 60FPS.

It's only when a multiplatform game is written to work around in the inherent failings of the Xbox360 architecture do the PS3 versions also suffer as a result.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Is the 8th gen needed?

It's only when a multiplatform game is written to work around in the inherent failings of the Xbox360 architecture do the PS3 versions also suffer as a result.

it's astoundingly annoying that multi-platform titles not only don't look any better on my ps3 (generally), but some actually perform worse than they do on my 360 (and don't get me started on the dlc).

the way the next gen is shaping up, it looks like this is going to continue to be a problem - I will stop short of claiming this as a deliberate decision of microsoft's, though only because they aren't clever enough for such a plan (or any plan for that matter).

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Re: Is the 8th gen needed?

the whole 'massive problems from multi-platofrom' thing shouldn't be such a problem this gen, what with the ps4 and Xone having similar architecures. It isn't like before where you had to code i na vastly different way to get stuff working on the ps3, it's the same code on the same architecture. The difference is probbably going to be texture size, draw distance and on some very high end games perhaps framerate.

It's not like the Xone limitations will hamstring PS4 because the difference just isn't that big.

I'm guessing that third party games will be either identicle on the 2 consoles, or superior by a small degree on the PS4, while the major difference will be in first party titles where PS4 will win hands down.

It's why I always say buy the console with the first party titles you want. Since the rest you'll get either way.

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Meh

Neither are in consideration......

...until the first major price drop.

Just too rich for my pocket right now.

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>" But then I ask myself whether your average PS4 or Xbox One gamer – those brought up on a diet of Call of Duty and Fifa – would readily lap up the likes of Mario, et al?"

Some of us like some variety in our gaming diet... and households with several consoles in them are far from rare, especially in shared flats. Many PS gamers will have fond memories of GoldenEye 64, Zelda: Ocarina Of Time, Mario 64 or Wario Stadium Soccer.

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Dropping XBox

My household usually holds one of each new console, just because it gives the best flexibility. Over the last year, however, we're all getting fed up with Microsoft's insistence on charging for network services. I particularly love the way your account gets frozen and requires a call to Microsoft to get it re-activated if you don't keep it funded. Paying a fee to Microsoft so I can access Netflix is nothing more than a rip off.

So we've come to the conclusion that with the exception of a superior online gaming network, XBox offers nothing worthy of investing in a new generation console. We also harbour the suspicion that DRM-based games will return as soon as enough consoles have been sold.

Sony are hardly angels, witness the rootkits they included with music CDs not so long ago. But until they start charging for the privelege of accessing content you've already paid for using a broadband service you've also paid for, I will stick with their products.

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Re: Dropping XBox

quote: "Sony are hardly angels, witness the rootkits they included with music CDs not so long ago. But until they start charging for the privelege of accessing content you've already paid for using a broadband service you've also paid for, I will stick with their products."

To play devil's advocate for a second, none of the XBox titles I have ever purchased have required me to be online just to play them. None. (maybe I just haven't bought the right ones though)

Yes, you need to be online to play Black Ops 2 against potty-mouthed, 12 year old Americans, but there is a single player campaign as well BTW ;)

So while I understand your point above, it's just a little too sweeping, and a little too generalised, for me to just let it lie. Yes MS charge for XBox Live Gold (which is required for online play), but they are not charging you to access the content. They are charging you to access the other XBL users via their hosted matchmaking + VOIP + social networking service. A petty distinction, but a distinction nonetheless.

Compare that with, say, Blizzard charging you a monthly fee to access content (i.e. World of Warcraft) over a broadband connection you have already paid for. How does that compare to Microsoft, and at what point are you deciding that the content counts as "already paid for" versus "this content requires an ongoing payment or we will terminate your access"?

I'm not saying either way is right, but an awful lot of people seem happy to pay monthly to play a single game online, via equipment and infrastructure they have already purchased and pay for. I don't see that model disappearing any time soon, unless every gamer migrated en masse to the free to play platforms.

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Re: Dropping XBox

Don't forget, Sony are going to start charging for online MP gaming as well, although admittedly once you have PS + you currently seem to get a shed load of games for free every month. Makes me wonder, if Sony keep giving away free games, some of which were only 8 months old this month I believe? then they are sneaking in a death blow to pre owned, no matter how much they say they support it.

If you want to play online, you have to buy PS +, if you have PS + you get free digital copies of games and to keep playing them, you have to keep paying and then why bother going to pick up a pre owned copy of anything, or even buy anything, because within a year you'll be getting it for free, I dont think they have given away any Call of Duty or Drakes Fortune games yet.

And yes, I am an Xbox fan(better pad and better dashboard in my opinion), so my view is perhaps not quite true,

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Re: Dropping XBox

So does that mean you'll get neither?

aren't Sony planning to make a PSN+ subscription a similar requirement for some network services like an XBL Gold subscription?

i could have misread but i thought after all these years of free network play being an advantage, Sony said they were ending it and requiring PSN+

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Facepalm

Re: Dropping XBox

To play devil's advocate for a second, none of the XBox titles I have ever purchased have required me to be online just to play them. None. (maybe I just haven't bought the right ones though)

But they do require Gold for the extra stuff, like Netflix. And even though Sony did capitulate and turn PS+ into a required thing for online gaming in the PS4... it still isn't required for the extra stuff. Only the online gaming part will require PS+. So even in the next gen, MS are still looking like greedy overcharging bastards!

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FAIL

Re: Dropping XBox

"Paying a fee to Microsoft so I can access Netflix is nothing more than a rip off."

I cannot agree more. Because of this single issue, I have decided to not buy a Xbox next (I will be getting the PS4 though). I know of a large number of other users who feel the same way, but I suspect while M$ is still raking it in, they are hardly going to cave in on this until there is a bigger outcry to "free" access to Netflix, Lovefilm, Sky and the like.

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Trollface

FPS

maybe a little off topic , but just a reminder

All you people playing FPS games and not using a mouse are doing it wrong. Plain and simple.

Now take all those shiny fps boxes and put them in the bin.

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Re: FPS

Maybe true, but next time EA release an FPS I want to play, it will be on my Playstation - Origin is going nowhere near my PC unless someone has a gun to my head.

On a slightly related note, what I would like to see from the next generation is more cross-platform multiplayer; Valve proved it was possible with Portal 2, and user base fragmentation could be an issue as we go to cross a console generation.

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Trollface

Re: FPS

Nah, some of use can actually play FPS with a controller. Mouse & keyboard are soooo 20th century! ;-)

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some of use can actually play FPS with a controller.

No you cant. You think you can, but you cant.

A "controller" is a analogue limitation. a governor . a rev limiter. a speed limit.

Its like playing with your shoelaces tied together. or blindgolded. like clipping a birds wings. or hobbling.

No matter how good at you are you are you are restricting your ability.

I know its like that for everyone else, so its fair, but for me playability is everything being unnesaserrily hampered just completely ruins the game for me

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Re: some of use can actually play FPS with a controller.

I know for certain I cannot play FPS with a keyboard and mouse, using the mouse for aiming just results in me looking at the ceiling or floor. You are correct playability is everything... being hampered by having to use a mouse ruins a game for me

Mice are perfect for strategy games where you have a cursor you move around the screen but I will always prefer a controller for a Shooting game

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MJI
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Re: FPS

Mouse, no I'm sticking with PS Move. Point and shoot - great.

Currently playing Bioshock Infinite, good controls except I keep using Vigors instead of zooming in.

Pity so few shooter games supported Move.

AAA shooter games using it well

Killzone 3

Resistance 3

Portal 2

Bioshock Infinite

P2 and BI both use it due to the designers playing KZ3

I struggled with PS3 Portal 2 until the Move patch was released.

TBH the lack of Move is the main thing making me nervous about the next gen.

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MJI
Silver badge

Re: some of use can actually play FPS with a controller.

Yes a Move controller and a Navigation controller.

Twin stick controllers are not natural for shooters, aim assist is what makes them usable.

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Get it right.

It's not "allow free trade-ins."

It's "not add a tax to trade-ins."

The former statement seems to imply that Sony are being extra-specially generous somehow.

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Mushroom

Will

any the new consoles run Kerbal Space program? and allow us to splatter our brave astronauts across a 100" TV in the living room while trying to figure out exactly which bit of a spaceship designed by a loony caused the crash in the first place(and dont mention who forgot the parachutes this time)

Until that day... I guess the PC will still reign supreme in my house

Kerbal Space program, teaching the meaning of the phrase "Lithobraking" since 2011

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The 360 and PS3 (and even the WiiU) are using 8 year old technology. And it shows.

So its long over-due for new generation. And with 4K TVs hitting the market today, I would expect the NEXT generation of consoles to hit in 5 years.

The PS4 looks a lot better than the XBO... Its slicker. And whose to say that MS didn't copy SONY?

There was only a few weeks difference between the public release of the two consoles. And overall, it looks like MS is in a rush-job again with many of their demos running on Windows7 PCs (what, no windows 8?)

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I have been wondering....

....if MS especially is going for a 4 year cycle with this console rather than a 8 year one.

Test the waters with a new approach and then deliver a new machine in a few years time aimed towards what succeeds.

Would both of them had gone so long had the downturn not happened in 2008?

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Re: I have been wondering....

with such "fast" turn around they would have to provide backwards compatibility

and for one reason or another they are very reluctant about it

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What The New Generation Brings To The Table

You mentioned that you weren't sure what the new generation of consoles have to offer over the current gen systems. I can answer some of that. I should start by pointing out the limitations of the Xbox 360 and the PS3.

Even though both of those consoles are able to display a native 1920x1080 image, the GPU (Graphics Processing Unit) in both have some severe (now) limits on the polygon count, texture fill rate, and texture memory. As a result, most game studios have to turn down the render resolution in order to maintain a playable framerate. If you look at the back of the game case for most games, it will tell you the actual render resolution, which in many cases, especially for the larger AAA titles, was limited to around 1280x720 and then scaled up to 1920x1080. This process results in "Blurry" images. The GPU in the new generation consoles is significantly more powerful. Enough so that it can render at native 1920x1080 and still have enough processing power to provide respectable environment detail at a playable framerate. I suspect that most, or even all of the games for the new console will have a native 1080p render resolution which will produce much sharper results in game than the older consoles can.

The older consoles also had some rather severe memory limitations. If you've ever played any mod-able PC games that have fan-made replacement texture packs available (E.G. oblivion, fallout 3, etc. .), you'll know that what a difference truly well made set of surface textures can make to the game. The original consoles just didn't have enough memory to use really high quality textures on most surfaces. Some of the better texture packs can use 4gb of memory just by themselves. The PS3 and the Xbox 360 each had less than 1gb of memory. Both of the new systems have 8gb of memory so large detail textures with good bump maps should be possible on the new consoles.

Between the native 1920x1080 render resolution and the ability to use detailed surfaces, the overall visual fidelity on the new consoles should be significantly better than on the previous generation. Naturally it's up to the game studio to take advantage of these additional resources and some probably won't. But some studios will and those games will be the ones that really showcase what the new hardware can provide.

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Linux

Indie Games

I think Sony are on the ball with this one, as AAA titles get ever more expensive to produce and purchase, the only thing that help the consoles compete with the mobile gaming scene is a vibrant indie dev scene. The console offers a far better gaming experience than the iPhone and that market is waiting to be tapped.

And Microsoft must have to buy special shoes, the number of times they've shot themselves in the foot recently...

That said, I'm keeping an eye on the Ouya which hit the shelves this week; trying to straddle console and mobile gaming.

It'll be an interesting few years as this plays out for sure, but I'll be too busy playing Mario 3D World :-D

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Fifa 14

You mention that the latest version of Fifa 14 is one of those games that will be available on the current and next generation consoles, but what's funny is that there will be a PS2 version as well. That's a mere thirteen years after the console was first released!

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Meh

Meh

With the XBox and PS concentrating on brown space marine simulators and Nintendo forgetting what made it decent in the first place, the future is a Steambox or a PC under the telly running Steam. You can have your fix of shooting monsters in the face, have decent indie games which innovate, and if you want interactive telly it also runs XBMC.

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Mushroom

Re: Meh

If the future is a Steambox I will cease to be a gamer.

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Re: Meh

Don't worry console gamers will reject it like they rejected the Xbox... Apparently if you can't take a physical copy of the game to a shop and sell it nobody wants to buy the console.

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