The next war being fought isn’t between North Korea and Antarctica with flying monkey bombs.
No, it’s right in our living rooms, between the next generation of gaming consoles. In one corner we have the almost fully disclosed PS4, a heavy-hitter that’s promising to be a graphics ram. Opposing this goliath, we have the undisputed winner from the previous battle, the “to-be-revealed-on-May-21” Xbox 720.
But just what’s at stake, you might ask?
Well for starters, the minds and the time of a remarkably diverse spread and genre of gamers. Plus, most enticingly of course, are the billions of dollars the industry stands to successfully siphon from wallets worldwide. The video gaming business comprises a $70 billion a year industry. A number that, impressively enough, stands to eclipse even the formidable television and film industry. And, with a whole new wave of next generation consoles and games, that figure will invariably continue to rise in coming years.
It’s been a couple months since Sony released the first salvo, by unveiling starting specs and limited information on their PS4. The Microsoft offering, however, is still shrouded in mystery as far as exact specs and information pertaining to this newest iteration. Either way, we know enough to lay out a preeminent Tale of the Tape.
Engines in the Box
Both PS4 and the 720 will have similar engines powering these behemoths, making cross-platform games easier for the developers to produce.
The Sony PS4, as announced so far, will have an eight-core x84-64 bit processor which will be based off of the AMD “Jaguar” processing chip. It’s graphics chip will be derived from the Radeon family and is presumably similar to the Radeon HD 7850, an average GPU. It will contain a unified array of 18 GCN processing clusters each with 64 cores, which will collectively generate 1.84 teraflops of power.
Another cool chameleon-like feature within the PS4 will allow developers to switch between processors; similar to how a PC performs. Sony will also have the PS4 packing a show-stopping 8GB of RAM, which is an immense increase from the 512MB of RAM in the PS3. The RAM is high-speed GDDR5 to maximize the system.
What is known on the new Xbox system is still limited but it is predicted to have an 8-core AMD processor running on 1.6GHz and 8GB of shared DDR3 RAM; along with 32MB of super-fast ERAM for the GPU. The graphics are said to be on an 800MHz D3D11.x GPU, very similar to the PS4.
Surprisingly, where the two systems appear to differ immensely is with regards to graphics and memory bandwidth. The Sony PS4 will have 18 Radeon GCN units, and the new Xbox is rumored only to have 12 GCN, which would mean it’s using a version of the 7790 AMD Radeon card. Also the new Xbox will be packing only 1.23 teraflops of raw power compared to the PS4’s 1.84 teraflops. The PS4 is using the GGR5 with a memory bandwidth of 170 gigabytes per sec (GBPS) over the 720, which is rumored to be using the GDDR3 with a bandwidth of only 68 GBPS.
What this all ultimately means is that.. both systems will perform better than their predecessors. However, the PS4 might have faster performance, and look better while doing it. This also could mean that the Xbox 720 is shaping up to be more than just a gaming machine, which — judging by their last few presentations at the Electronic Entertainment Expo — makes total sense.
It’s all in the Control!
It has been announced that Sony will be reinventing their popular DuelShock controller. Taking some design queues off their popular PS Vita, it will be more like a modern user-friendly handheld and less like the anachronistic controllers of the previous generation. Another cool feature of the new DuelShock 4 controller will be the ability to hit share on the controller, which will forward recorded gaming stats and screen shots onto social networking and multimedia sites.
Unfortunately for Sony, I think Microsoft will continue to dominate in the controller world. Microsoft will be using the Kinect version 2 for the new system, with every 720 coming with Kinect. This intuitive system will work with the new controllers by identifying players voice patterns and working with a new 3D patent called “Fortaleza” or “Illumiroom,” which will make gaming on the new Xbox as fun and exciting as a Star Trek Holodeck.
To Blu or not to Blu-ray? That is the Question.
The good news? Both systems will finally be utilizing Blu-ray technology at long last! The PS4 with a 6x fast Blu-ray player and 100GB capability and the Xbox 720 having 6x speed Blu-ray with a 50GB capability.
If you remember Microsoft was a staunch supporter of the now defunct HD DVD system. As such, embracing Blu-ray would be a bit of a philosophical reversal on Microsoft’s part, it would seem. One would assume that Microsoft saw the benefits of Blu-ray including the larger space capacity of the DB disk.
There has been no firm announcement though of the new Xbox 720 playing Blu-ray movies though.
Some media leaks as of June of 2012 stated that the Xbox 720 would come with 1080p 3D support, Blu-ray player and DVR functionality. If accurate, the cumulative effect of these attributes would allow the new Microsoft system to dominate the segment; serving as a one-stop-shop for all things entertainment in your living room, even despite the PS4’s superior graphics.
Is this the Death of the Second-Hand Game?
Rumors have been circling for both the PS4 and Xbox 720 that the used gaming market would be ending due to both systems using a form of a watermark on games. This would make your brand new game usable on your system alone. Also ending the art of trading in old games to purchase newer games – which will not sit well with most gamers or stores like GameStop. Like all rumors, take this one with a grain of sea salt. There are also articles online — dut-dut-dut-DUH! — that point to a very supportive partnership between Microsoft and GameStop, which completely deters the previos rumor.
So what about all your old PS3 and 360 games? Do they just go to little video game doggy heaven? So far, the rumors are going that the PS4 will not be compatible with PS3 games but the system may offer the use of some digital purchased PS3 games. On the other hand, the Xbox 720 is rumored to play 360 games. But similar to how the 360 played first generation games, not every game will transfer.
Release and Money Honey!
Industry-leading experts predict both consoles will be released prior to the 2013 holiday season. Once Microsoft makes their much anticipated announcement on May 21 (that’s less than 2 weeks, y’all!), we should have a more concrete release date for both systems.
Between the two systems, don’t expect to see to much of a differential on price. All signs are pointing to a $299.00 to $500.00 price tag. And while still in the approximate ball park, these new systems will definitely be priced above the previous generation of models.
And the Winner is……
The PS4 will be the initial graphics powerhouse out the gate. This doesn’t, however, leave Microsoft out in the cold. If inclinations prove correct, Microsoft could be setting up the new 720 to tackle larger issues than just graphics. If the new 720 is looking to be more of an all-in-one console, it may well set Microsoft’s prospect for their console higher than just that of a standard gaming system.
So who will win the coming war?