Over the last 12 months there have been discussions far and wide over whether resolution is important to current-gen games. Now that the idea of a 1080p game has transformed from a rarity to an expectation, gamers have begun to single out those titles that fail to reach that benchmark.
Things progress a step further, however, when gamers learn that a game is capable of running at 1080p, but only on one console. As of late that has usually meant said game, be it Call of Duty: Ghosts or Watch Dogs or whatever, runs at a higher resolution on PS4, while the Xbox One version comes in at either a close, or sometimes even a distant, second.
However, now that the resolution-gate issues have seemingly died down some, many are wondering whether the two consoles have achieved greater parity than at launch. In plainer terms, has the Xbox One caught up with the PS4?
Speaking with CVG, Xbox Head Phil Spencer didn’t tackle that issue head on, but he did have some interesting things to say about resolution’s importance to gameplay. To CVG‘s credit, Spencer was asked whether the Xbox One had achieved parity with PS4, but he avoided delivering a definitive answer.
Instead, Spencer revealed that he believes frame rate is ultimately more important than resolution when it comes to game development. 1080p, he says, isn’t some “mythical perfect resolution.”
“Reaching parity with our partners has been important. But in the end I don’t want it to be about a number, because 1080p isn’t some mythical, perfect resolution. Framerate to me is significantly more important to gameplay than resolution and the mix of those two which brings the right art style and freedom, whether it’s on PlayStation or our platform.”
The argument of frame rate vs. resolution isn’t something new, and it likely won’t go away any time soon. But in some regards, Spencer has a point. A game that runs at 1080p but can’t maintain a solid frame rate is arguably more bothersome than one that runs at 720p60. Fighting games, for example, need a consistent frame rate or else the player loses time to react.
But even then, a lower frame rate can play back into the artistic style of a game. As Spencer mentions, a game like The Order: 1886 can use a 30fps frame rate to its advantage, creating a cinematic feel and texture that’s more jaw dropping than average high-res textures.
“I look at games like The Order on Sony’s platform and they picked a different resolution – I like the resolution that they picked, I think it’s interesting. I want to put the tools in the hands of the artists and not try to math it that there’s some sort of math answer for the what the right resolution and frame rate is for a game – because there isn’t.”
Spencer does bring up good points about resolution and frame rate, but skirts the issue of console parity. Obviously, if the PS4 and Xbox One hit optimum performance levels then developers wouldn’t need to worry about hitting 60fps or 1080p, but these systems are still relatively new and teams are still learning how best to leverage their power. Resolution might not be a worthwhile discussion just yet, but it could be in a few years. It all depends on how these systems evolve.
Do you agree with Spencer that frame rate is more important than resolution? Where does artistic intent come into play for you?