Just last week, Microsoft Senior Director Albert Penello addressed performance comparisons between his company’s next-gen console, the Xbox One, and the PS4 saying there are things about their system that are “not fully understood.” In essence, he was trying to say that, although reports suggest the PS4 is 30% more powerful than the Xbox One in terms of raw power, those differences might be negligible when it comes to running games.
However, several anonymous developers with close ties to next-gen development disagree. They believe that the differences between the PS4 and the Xbox One are “significant.”
According to these sources, who spoke to EDGE magazine, everything from read/write speeds to general gameplay performances is superior on the PS4. For example, a game that runs at a solid 1080p30 (1920×1080 resolution and 30 frames-per-second) on the PS4 runs at a noticeably slower 1600×900 with a framerate somewhere in the 20s on the Xbox One.
Microsoft is well aware of these issues, though, and have taken strides to improve them. Just recently they bumped up the speed of their CPU, but apparently that wasn’t enough. According to one of the sources, “The clock speed update is not significant, it does not change things that much.”
Still, both Microsoft and Sony are constantly changing things, updating graphics drivers and improving CPU and GPU speeds. Unfortunately, when it comes to updating drivers, Microsoft, again, has been a bit behind the curve. They say that Microsoft “has been late on their drivers and that has been hurting them.”
It wasn’t all-bad, however, as the developers questioned did have some positive things to say about the Xbox One as well.
“Let’s say you are using procedural generation or raytracing via parametric surfaces — that is, using a lot of memory writes and not much texturing or ALU — Xbox One will be likely be faster.”
Unfortunately, the lack of up-to-date graphics drivers has put developers at a disadvantage. While they may want to push games to their limits, unfamiliarity with the hardware is holding them back. Many of the developers interviewed surmised that, given a little time, developers will find better ways to leverage each consoles’ quirks.
At the same time, the developers do hint that one console might be capable of delivering superior games, but they strive for parity for financial reasons. Presumably, if one version were superior to the other, then gamers would be discouraged from picking up the inferior version, perhaps even skipping the game altogether. And since the end goal for publishers is to sell as many units as possible, it’s smarter to keep multiplatform titles on an even playing field.
With only a few months before the launch of the PS4 on November 15th, and the Xbox One release a week later on the 22nd, we don’t expect comparisons regarding the two consoles to stop. Rather, we wouldn’t be surprised if they continued right up until they hit store shelves.
Clearly, some developers feel that what Sony is doing with the PS4 is better for games, but that doesn’t mean Microsoft can’t catch up. Also, we have no way to confirm these comments, and we won’t until multiplatform titles like Assassin’s Creed 4 or Call of Duty: Ghosts hit.
The next-gen console war is here, and it’s only heating up.
What do you think about these anonymous developer comments? Is the Xbox One lagging behind because Microsoft is rushing to finalize specs, or is it something else?
Sony’s PS4 launches November 15, 2013. Microsoft’s Xbox One launches November 22, 2013.