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Hey, Remember When Power Was The #1 Concern For New Consoles?

"8-bit? Really? Isn't the Atari only 2? Wow." "What...16-bit? Double what we have now?! No way! Seriously?"

Yes, and pretty much all the way up until this generation: Power was the most-discussed feature of any new video game console. But as systems have become more and more like PCs and the digital age has expanded in a frightening attempt to strangle us in our sleep with a diabolical combination of apps and Facebook photos, power suddenly seems to be secondary.

The latest rash of PS4-related rumors - which analyst Michael Pachter has already denounced, saying Kotaku's source was "a monkey" - has involved a great many items for general gamer discussion. Now, that did include a look at the console's potential power but that hardly dominated the aforementioned discussion; no, most arguments involved the lack of backwards compatibility and the idea that the PS4 wouldn't play used games. And that's only the tip of the iceberg, of course; the console is bound to be awfully diverse, even more so than the PS3...which is, in and of itself, pretty darn close to a PC already.

Things have gotten complicated, haven't they? On the one hand, it's good that the next generation of console fanboy arguments won't necessarily be focused on power and graphics. After all, that's been getting old for a while. On the other hand, it's interesting to see how features have become a primary concern for most any electronic gadget, simply due to that gadget's versatility. Backwards compatibility? Hell, nobody in my class expected the Super Nintendo to play Nintendo cartridges. That'd be just...silly. And the $60 we paid then - which of course is what we pay now, although everyone wants to gloss over that fact - wasn't easy to deal with.

Granted, the power of the new consoles will come more into the spotlight when we start reading about the detailed specs, and when new games are shown. That's inevitable. But maybe for the first time in the industry's history, consumers won't put power or hardware potential or even the games themselves at the top of their priority lists. If these machines really are PCs for our living rooms, there will be a lot more to consider...the only thing that bothers me is that it tends to override the games themselves, the very reason we got into this hobby in the first place.

I'm dreading the day I hear- "Oh, I don't care what games are coming out for it, the machine can do this." You know, like it's the iPad 7 or something.

Tags: ps4, playstation 4, new playstation, game consoles

3/30/2012 10:41:38 AM Ben Dutka

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Comments (41 posts)

Temjin001
Friday, March 30, 2012 @ 11:33:41 AM
Reply

Im pretty certain I read a report a few days ago regarding MS's 360 activity. It stated something saying that about half, or even a little more, of their online user-base doesn't even use their 360 to play games. Instead, the time is spent on Netflix or doing other activities. Seeing the newer Dashboard tells me the dedicated gaming console that isn't made by Nintendo is basically dead.

I also agree about shifting a console's identity away from power. I think concerns over processor archectures and the like is largely a mute point these days with the majority of consumers. I garuntee we'll hear no such long winded talks about the techinical specifics of fillrates, dot products, and any other techno-head jargon that populated much of the PS3's and 360's E3 presentations years ago.
The industry is clearly approaching a technical ceiling in a production to profitability ratio, so conditioning an audience to demand more and more power that in turn inflates dev costs just doesn't seem like the landscape any business wants to engage these days. Basically, with the next-gen, I think we'll have all the power we can hope to get within reason, no matter the chipsets manufacturers rest on. It's a new landscape out there for us long time console gamers going forward. We're having to think and consider variables that go way beyond bits and game ratings.

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Highlander
Friday, March 30, 2012 @ 11:40:11 AM

The number of XLB Gold accounts is less than 50% of all the XBL accounts that exist. The number of XBL accounts actually trails the number of Xbox 360s sold by a fairly wide margin. The actual number of Xbox 360 owners that game online is in the region of 20-22 million. Despite the rhetoric from many quarters the actual numbers for online Play on 360 are really quite appalling.

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Temjin001
Friday, March 30, 2012 @ 3:48:05 PM

MS lost my money for LIVE. Now that many multiplats are palatably good on PS3 as they are on 360, and that MS's efforts to provide exclusive software has been largely aimed at kids and family I have a hard time being excited for anything they're doing. It blows me away as to how fast they've pushed away from the base they attracted with the original Xbox and the early 360. Added to that, their new dashboard totally suggests pop-appeal through and through.

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Highlander
Friday, March 30, 2012 @ 3:53:20 PM

For an indication of where MS is going, look at the Metro interface on Windows 8 and consider how well that will translate to a PC environment instead of a tablet device. The MS ship has made some significant course changes, and I'm not entirely sure they know where they are headed - I sure don't.

Last edited by Highlander on 3/30/2012 3:57:09 PM

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Temjin001
Friday, March 30, 2012 @ 4:15:02 PM

My Java instructor brought his laptop in on the last day of lecture and showed us his preview edition of Windows 8. When he went to open a doc file, yes, MS's own file, it failed to reproduce any readible text on the screen. He tried multiple different ways with no success.

I think MS's whole drive to unify tablets, phones, xbox, and PC's with KINECT shoved down your throat will be a nightmare for them. It's hard enough for them keeping Windows functional(oxymoron) across many different manufactures, I cant imagine what sort of headaches are instore for them by creating a one size fits all OS for near every electronic device. If they had more control over the hardware on the market I suspect something like that could be possible.

I run VMware virtualization on my PC as it is while surfing the net. I feel safer using a linux-distro like Ubuntu.

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Beamboom
Saturday, March 31, 2012 @ 3:46:04 AM

You are a Linux user too, Temjin?! Awesome - I thought I was the only one around here! I am a 100% Linux user myself, been for many years now. PLUS you are a Java coder? Java is one of the main languages I write in too these days!

But why use a VM to surf the net?


Last edited by Beamboom on 3/31/2012 3:48:28 AM

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Temjin001
Sunday, April 01, 2012 @ 1:42:40 PM

Beamboom, I'm somewhat a Linux user. Years ago I ran Linux for a few months as a core OS, but playing around with the Xconfig settings bricked my system. Anyway, I use Windows 7 primarily for my games, 3DsMax, and soon to be Adobe Illustrator. I run a VMware player with Ubuntu while searching the web for tutorials or for finding QA answers to troubleshooting issues. It wasn't all that long ago that I encountered a nasty virus while doing that while searching with Firefox on Windows 7. Since then I determined running a virtualization window would be a good way to keep Windows quarantined from the outside world.

My family uses a Mac Mini with OSX

Last edited by Temjin001 on 4/1/2012 1:44:56 PM

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Highlander
Friday, March 30, 2012 @ 11:38:02 AM
Reply

Power is still the major concern, but in a different way.

I think that going into the next generation of hardware the concerns will be things such as;

Real 1080p60 for all games
1080p in 3D
Online play
Media Streaming
Security (transactions)

Consumers are *not* about to throw down 1000s more on a new raft of hideously expensive super-HD screens, 1080p is barely making it into broadcast yet, and games are scraping the 720p resolution and rarely exceeding it.

1080p60 and 1080p 3D are the sweetspot for home video quality. there is an analysis of viewing distance and screen resolution that makes a pretty convincing case for 1080p being the maximum effective resolution in the home video sphere.

In any event, I don't believe that we will see a new wave of super HD screens while the world is still trying to get to grips with 1080p.

We know that an all digital future can't happen yet. The infrastructure might exist to support such a thing in select metro areas and countries, but it's not ubiquitous. So all digital simply isn't going to fly.

So we come back to the targets. 1080p resolution at 60 fps and 1080p resolution in full 3D. Even if the hardware in the next consoles is theoretically capable of rendering at higher than 1080p resolutions, the presentation to gamers will be in 1080p60. Expect all that extra power in the GPU to be used for filtering and anti-aliasing to improve the final image.

I expect that the CPUs in the next systems will continue to add cores because multi-processing is the way forward. more threads, more cores, more work done in parallel. Developers should have taken note with the PS2 and PS3, the number of cores increases, the ability to perform certain kinds of computation in parallel is a huge advantage. It's not by coincidence that parallel processing is what makes a super-computer super. Game designers that complained about trying to work in parallel on today's hardware will have to get with the program, because as ever more detailed environments and models are created, there will be far, far more need for parallel processing in games to handle the physics. GPUs already have gone this way, the upcoming consoles will take it even further.

The power will be there, but it's less important to talk about the power of the device than it is to talk about what it can output. To me, the discussion should be about the target resolutions and frame rates.

Agree with this comment 6 up, 1 down Disagree with this comment

Oxvial
Friday, March 30, 2012 @ 11:57:38 AM
Reply

This bits talk made me remember those commercials hyping the Jaguar 64 bits xD.

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Highlander
Friday, March 30, 2012 @ 12:00:23 PM

Technically the PS2 has a 1536 bit GPU... No, seriously, the PS2 GPU has a 1536 bit wide data bus. That's one of the stumbling blocks to emulating it actually. But in all the bit talk, I've always wanted to pull that factoid out... ;)

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rogers71
Friday, March 30, 2012 @ 12:06:37 PM
Reply

Great article Ben. You mentioned the price of a game then vs. now. I remember paying 69.99 for Mortal Kombat on the SNES and that was in the early 90's. It was $74 after tax. I didn't really balk then but it's funny because if I had to pay 74 dollars for a game now, I would be pissed. HA HA

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Temjin001
Friday, March 30, 2012 @ 12:12:58 PM

Remember Killer Instinct Gold for N64?
75-80 was the norm for that game =)

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Ben Dutka PSXE [Administrator]
Friday, March 30, 2012 @ 12:34:21 PM

Yes, exactly. Considering inflation, that $70 then is probably like $125 now. Then you take into account the massive leaps in technology......and people whining about $60 gets on my nerves as a direct result.

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telly
Friday, March 30, 2012 @ 2:04:05 PM

Yep, remember it well. Shadows of the Empire was another pricey one. And we can go back to the Genesis days and point to Phantasy Star IV's cart retailing for NINETY dollars for more evidence. And that was in early nineties dollars, mind you, accounting for inflation that amount would be much higher today.

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slugga_status
Friday, March 30, 2012 @ 2:10:43 PM

Man!! I remember Phantasy Star..primarily b/c my mom gave me the 3rd degree at the time for wanting such an expensive game.

Killer Instinct Gold was $80 for me. Still have it til this day.

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Temjin001
Friday, March 30, 2012 @ 3:00:12 PM

lol, oh, yeah, Phantasy Star IV. I actually played and finished PS2(oooh, trippy) and spent some time with PS3, but PS4.. nah, I think I was hooked with the SNES and FF3 at that time.

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Palpatations911
Friday, March 30, 2012 @ 3:57:01 PM

KI was awesome. I still remember owning lines of people in the arcade using my rotation of Orchid, TJ Combo and Sabrewulf!

Good times, good times.

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WorldEndsWithMe
Friday, March 30, 2012 @ 4:25:10 PM

C-c-c-c-c-c-combo breaker!

Fulgore ftw.

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Temjin001
Friday, March 30, 2012 @ 5:35:40 PM

ha, remember the crappy SNES version yelled "ULTRA! ULTRA! ULTRA! ULTRA!"
Instead of ULTRA COMBOOOOOooooooo! like the arcade

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Lord carlos
Friday, March 30, 2012 @ 12:47:41 PM
Reply

Sony bought the cell chip facilities a couple of years ago,couldn't they just link 10 of the lastest cell broadband chips together and stick in a new awesome gpu with x amount of RAM & boom ps4 out Nov 2015.
I wonder what that would look like.

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AcHiLLiA
Friday, March 30, 2012 @ 1:02:57 PM
Reply

..but then again we need the power to play our video games. I have a problem with the facebook apps but don't mind facebook photos unless it's mindless BS.


Last edited by AcHiLLiA on 3/30/2012 1:08:02 PM

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Laguna
Friday, March 30, 2012 @ 1:25:35 PM
Reply

I think games shouldn't go past $60. I think that will turn lots of parents away from buying them for their kids.

I think the whole existence of the ps3 sort of nullified power for me.

With ps3 games sometimes only looking slightly better than 360, it comes down for me if the games look nice enough and if they are FUN.

Its why I just bought Dead Or alive Ultimate 2, 3 and 4 for the 360.

They look very nice for old titles, and the gameplay is solid and fun! That's all that matters.

Its also why I like Ninja Gaiden Sigma 1 and 2. It isn't the most jaw dropping game, but it runs smoothly and has a great framerate. It looks sharp and vibrant and the combat is fluid.

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Temjin001
Friday, March 30, 2012 @ 1:59:41 PM

Dude, you're like an awesome gamer guy! I love DOA and NG. Also, I like FFVIII the most out of the FF's ;)
You can add me as a PSN friend if you like (my ID is the same as my name here). Also, I'm moving over the weekend down the road, so I'll be offline with my PS3 for a few days.

Also, the DOA's do look quite nice on 360, so too does NG Black. Not many say this, but Xbox games running on 360 are tremendously enhanced with 4xMSAA, drasitcally smoothing out the edges, something very apparant on HDTV's like mine. Then of course there's those Xbox games that run poorly on 360, like NG's FMV and DOA3's snow stage

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PC_Max
Friday, March 30, 2012 @ 1:39:57 PM
Reply

I think 1080p is a cap for the moment regarding Tv's and consoles. I watch Blu-ray on my 40" tv and I don't see how much better the quality can. Unless they really want me too all the spots and pores on a character. All games running at 1080p with a frame rate of no less than 60 would be a good target. I am not interested in the 3D component to gaming, it wheres thin after a while... unless they start coming out with new 3D without the need for glasses for our TV's. Which probably would be frigging expensive to say the least.

Don't need smellovision either if thats another way to make games more immersive. :)

Perfect the hardware, but start focussing on game quality (stories), applications if thats what people would like to see and online services, which is where things have been going with the current generation.

Keep Playing!

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airwedge1
Friday, March 30, 2012 @ 1:57:36 PM
Reply

Non-sense. If video games become licensed rather then bought, I will not buy another video game.

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UbiEaActisuck
Friday, March 30, 2012 @ 2:10:12 PM

Hate to break this to you but when you buy a video game you are only buy a license to use it. Go read an instruction manual and you can find the license agreement at the end typically.

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gumbi
Friday, March 30, 2012 @ 2:11:25 PM

Why exactly is that nonsense? The majority of the software world works this way. And video games are software.

Besides, the most important thing to note here is that for gamers who buy used games, this will likely have little effect on your bottom line. Instead of paying $50 for a used game at GameStop, you'll pay $35-40 for it, and then purchase a $10-$15 license from the publisher to play it. You still pay $50 for it, AND you own it forever! even if you sell the disc.

I don't know, to me this business model just makes the most sense. Especially for the owners of the IP being licensed.

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Highlander
Friday, March 30, 2012 @ 2:33:16 PM

They already are licensed. Read the packaging and terms you agree to when opening a game and first using it.

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WorldEndsWithMe
Friday, March 30, 2012 @ 4:26:23 PM

Why do people think used games are always just at tad cheaper? Not everyone goes to Gamestopo

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PC_Max
Saturday, March 31, 2012 @ 8:21:59 AM

You own the license to the game/console to use/play. Technically when you sell your game to Gametap or other services in that line of business, you are essentially giving up you license to play. Its even possible that the fine print may actually say you cannot resell it but I need glasses to read all that. :)

Think of it like your drivers license, its not a right but a privelege. Yep, you can do what you want when you get it, but if you start breaking the rules and get caught..... bye bye license... possible fine or jail term. Thats extreme but you get the idea.

When I buy a game I buy with the notiion of keeping it because I want to play over and over. Possibly play it in the future again. Heck, I occasionally pop in a PS1 or PS2 game now and again because the games I kept still have great play value, regardless of poor graphics.

Getting off topic. :)

Keep Playing!

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Highlander
Saturday, March 31, 2012 @ 9:45:35 PM

The license is non-transferrable. You have the right to sell the disc containing the copy of the game to anyone you please, but not to transfer the license.

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CaptRon
Friday, March 30, 2012 @ 2:40:42 PM
Reply

It's because ppl are finally realizing doesn't matter cause PC always wins ;)

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WorldEndsWithMe
Friday, March 30, 2012 @ 3:19:12 PM

wins the 4th position.

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Highlander
Friday, March 30, 2012 @ 3:56:32 PM

Wins what? Fastest to be obsolete? Fastest to an upgrade?

Apart from my work environment, if Sony did two things with the PS3 (and it's successor), I'd never need a PC.

Improve the web browser to the standard of Firefox/Opera and give me a real email client.

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SaiyanSempai
Friday, March 30, 2012 @ 7:27:12 PM

I remember reading an article about the fact that PC graphics cards are hundreds of times more powerful than the PS3, and yet, we don't see games that are 100s times better looking. What do we get with all that superior PC power? We get Batman Arkham City with....better fog!

(Battlefield on PC was beautiful, but not hundreds of times more beautiful...)

Couple with that the driver issues that will always exist and I say "ptew!" to PC gaming. haha!

Seriously, for the price of one high end graphics card I got a PS3 that has lasted me almost 6 years and is still relevant and pumping out impressive visuals. You won't find me going back to PC gaming ever again.

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Temjin001
Friday, March 30, 2012 @ 7:48:08 PM

aye, well, most PC games are console games anymore. So the only real tangible ehancements come in the form of res, filters, and frame rates. BF3 just so happens to be a rare title that showed a margin of what a modern high powered GPU can do. The latest graphics card by Nvidia can push BF3 at 1080p settings maxed at essentially 60fps

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Ben Dutka PSXE [Administrator]
Friday, March 30, 2012 @ 8:40:51 PM

Wins in the same way Charlie Sheen "wins."

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Geobaldi
Friday, March 30, 2012 @ 10:11:24 PM

If developers actually made games catering to each specific platform and utilizing each platforms hardware to the max, then we'd see big differences between all the games and platforms. Instead we have multiplat games that all look the same across all platforms and none of them are really demanding of the hardware.

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Highlander
Saturday, March 31, 2012 @ 9:48:57 PM

ssjviviano,

for a PC graphics card to be 100s of times more powerful than the PS3 to exist, someone would have had to create a GPU capable of anything from 50,000 GFLOPs to 100,000 GFLOPS (or more depending on how many hundreds of times you think you remember).

Basically that would make that GPU the most powerful super computer on the face of the earth today. So, you know, that article was either BS, or your memory is extremely foggy.

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___________
Saturday, March 31, 2012 @ 4:50:29 AM
Reply

only reason those are more talked about is there much more controversial.
people cant really talk about specs because its hard to imagine what would be possible with them.
its easy to talk about no used game sales or locking games to one PSN account things like that.
power always has been and always will be the biggest attraction to new systems.
yea theres other features, but there icing on the cake not the cake itself!
the wiiU for instance.
yes it will be the first ninty device to have propper online store and online gaming.
yes it will be the first to have a screen in its controller.
but there not why people will buy it, people will buy it because they have been begging for a HD console from ninty for years!
who doesnt want to play zelda or metroid in HD!?
i freaking shat my pants when i saw the tech demo they showed at E3 for zelda!
nothing has ever amazed me like that, just thinking of it now skyward sword with those graphics......
just take my money, take it now!!!!!!!!!!!

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Highlander
Saturday, March 31, 2012 @ 9:50:18 PM

If you literally shat your pants over that, I really think you need to invest in an appointment with your doctor, as well as some laundry detergent.

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