We are not surprised this has happened. Just a few days after reconfirming Project Scorpio will play native 4K games, Microsoft is taking aim at Sony. Head of Xbox planning, Albert Penello, has said he is skeptical whether Sony's new PS4 Pro can play natively in 4K.
This story goes a long way back, at least to the start of the summer and probably to the start of the 8th generation. Before we jump into that, it is worth taking note of what Penello actually said. In a recent interview with Eurogamer, he suggests the PS4 Pro does not have the specs for 4K gaming:
“I know that 4.2 teraflops is not enough to do true 4K,” Penello said, speaking about the power of the Pro. “So, I feel like our product (Project Scorpio) aspired a little bit higher, and we will have fewer asterisks around the 4K experiences we deliver on our box.”
When Sony announced the PlayStation 4 Pro, we said at the time that the specs were dubious for 4K. Earlier this week General Manager for Microsoft Studios Publishing Shannon Loftis confirmed that Project Scorpio would be native 4K capable. Microsoft has also said the current Xbox One S has 4K limitations.
That is expected though as it was never meant to be a 4K powerhouse. Some may argue that Sony never directly promised the kinds of things Microsoft is with Project Scorpio. However, the PS4 Pro was widely believed to be a game-changer in terms of 4K gaming. It is anything but. Penello continued by specifically targeting Sony.
“I think there are a lot of caveats they're giving customers right now around 4K. They're talking about checkerboard rendering and up-scaling and things like that. There are just a lot of asterisks in their marketing around 4K, which is interesting because when we thought about what spec we wanted for Scorpio, we were very clear we wanted developers to take their Xbox One engines and render them in native, true 4K. That was why we picked the number, that's why we have the memory bandwidth we have, that's why we have the teraflops we have, because it's what we heard from game developers was required to achieve native 4K.”
As mentioned, this story arguably goes back to the launch of the Xbox One and PS4 three years ago. Although still in mid-life, it became apparent that the gaming environment was changing mid-generation. Virtual reality and a consumer base buying more 4K screens set a precedent.
For the first time, the console giants would have to significantly update their hardware. A normal generation lasts around seven years, with a mid-cycle incremental update in-between. The Xbox One S can be classed as this mid-life incremental upgrade. The PS4 Pro was meant to be the seismic shift, an ushering of a new era.
Sadly it seems either Sony didn't deliver or the gaming community got it all wrong. Either way, the PS4 Pro does not fit the bill of a powerhouse game-changer … it feels like the incremental mid-lifer. Microsoft is being more vocal than Sony and actually saying Project Scorpio will be the game changes.
Yes, the PlayStation 4 Pro is more powerful than the Xbox One S, but not by enough. I have personally stated the following before. Microsoft has been the winner this summer. Sony may have dictated the market battle with massive global sales, but Microsoft has done something different. I am of no doubt that the Xbox One range does (and will with Project Scorpio) offer more than Sony's PS4 line.
I think it's fair to say that is the gauntlet put down. Let us know what you think in the comments below.