There’s a lot of chatter about the PlayStation 4 Pro proper graphical capacity, which Sony was too much stealth about saying that is not native 4K resolution, to convey a bolder message to its fans and customers. In particular, Microsoft has adopted a communication strategy that returns it to more aggressive roots we had forgotten about since Phil Spencer became the Xbox boss. So, let’s make the point of the situation before we can provide our judgment about what’s happening here.
We have two 4K consoles coming between this year and late 2017. The first is PS4 Pro, which has been long rumored to be 4.19 teraflop powerful and has a reason for being the less performing mid-cycle machine coming from both Sony and Microsoft – it releases one year earlier than its direct competitor, Project Scorpio. So Sony had the decision to make: ship it as early as possible, or have a face to face with Microsoft next year.
They opted for the first solution and this gives them a marketing advantage which is pretty substantial. PlayStation 4 has already underlined that marketing is the most important thing nowadays in video games (although lies won’t last forever, is this true, No Man’s Sky?), at least in terms of sales – they don’t have big AAA exclusives and probably won’t until Horizon: Zero Dawn finally launches. So they’re trying to have a similar win with PS4 Pro.
They’re going to launch it, without never clearly admitting that PS4 Pro wasn’t born with a native 4K hardware, at least not in front of the average video gamer, as early as possible because they’ll be able to say “well, we did it one year earlier” to whatever Project Scorpio manages to do in 2017. And they’ll be right, and they’ll win about this topic, because the difference between true 4K and PS4 Pro’s 4K isn’t that much, and it’ll be always difficult to explain to people what’s the real gap dividing 6 and 4.19 teraflops.
And talking about PS4 Pro’s 4K, we have a few interesting tips and details that will let you know what it really means to say “it’s not native 4K but it is very closer”, as reported, more or less, by Guerrilla Games in recent interviews. Native 4K resolution is 3840×2160 (8.294.400). The 4K resolution PlayStation 4 Pro is reaching is an upscaled solution from 3200×1800 (5.760.000), which is about 70% of the true 4K total output. 1800p has been set as a minimum requirement for developers working on Sony’s latest machine.
This is basically the same gap passing between 1080p vs 900p (PS4 vs Xbox One) in this generation, with the sole difference PS4 Pro is going to be the mid-cycle Xbox One, while Project Scorpio will have a role like PS4’s – a slight technical advantage that a good PR work (what Microsoft wasn’t able to do since 2013) will easily make disappear. 1080p is 1920×1080 (2.073.000), while 900p is 1600×900 (1.440.000). 1080p is 25% of 4K, which makes mid-cycle consoles a huge leap forward in terms of resolution. 900p is 70% of 1080p. Do you see it? Let me make it more clear for you:
PS4 Pro: Difference between 1800p and 4K
- 3840X2160= 8,294,400
- 3200X1800= 5,760,000 (70% Of 4K)
Difference between 1080p and 900p:
- 1920X1080= 2,073,000 (25% of 4K)
- 1600X900= 1,440,000 (70% of 1080p)
So, we’re not saying Project Scorpio is better or worse in comparison with PS4 Pro – we couldn’t even if we wanted because there’s still one year to wait for before it release. Microsoft’s being aggressive because they know Sony nailed it, launching a less expensive console a long time before they can do their move. We’re saying the Redmond platform holder will have a tough time in order to make it meaningful for people to wait for their 4K console and buy it at a higher price.
Hopefully, they have something up their sleeves so they can have a major impact when finally showcasing Scorpio, with its definitive name and finalized specifics. Virtual reality could be among those, with support extended to third-party producers such as Oculus Rift. But if they think 1080p against 900p was what determined PS4’s success from 2013 to 2016, well, they’re terribly wrong and they’ll understand as soon as they’ll ship an (at least) $499 new platform.
At any rate, Sony was good enough to go through a delicate moment, where they were introducing a new idea of the console which wasn’t going to be exactly what people were expecting from mid-cycle consoles. What we’d like to see would be Microsoft doing the same, and being as enthusiast as they were back in June when they first revealed Project Scorpio: still humble, relaxed, and faithful in the product they were going to ship. Which would mean Project Scorpio would be good enough to go through its next delicate moment.