The Xbox One costs more than the PlayStation 4, but Sony’s machine is pumping out games at a higher resolution so far. Microsoft doesn’t expect the Xbox One to remain behind PS4 in terms of visuals for long.
Xbox director of development Boyd Multerer says that developers will reach 1080p on the One as they get more familiar with the hardware, according to an interview in the Official Xbox Magazine. That number refers to the number of horizontal lines a game renders for each frame of animation — the higher the number (1080 is max on most modern TV units), the crisper the graphical fidelity. Many Xbox One games on the market run at a sub-1080p resolution. Titanfall, arguably the console’s most-important release, renders 792 lines for each frame. Most PlayStation 4 games, however, display a full 1080p. Multerer thinks that once developers have more time with Microsoft’s particular graphics processor, they will regularly achieve full HD with their products.
“I fully expect that to happen,” he told OXM. “The [graphics processing unit is a] really complicated beast this time around.”
Multerer says that the improvement will come from software optimization on the development side because the Xbox One is a fixed unit. Microsoft can’t really increase the system’s power capability at this point.
“The hardware is basically baked, and what comes next is people discovering better software techniques to take advantage of it,” said Multerer. “Especially in the ordering of the data so it flows through all the caches correctly, and I think there’s a lot of opportunity there.”
We’ve reached out to Microsoft to ask if it could still boost the Xbox One’s performance by updating the DirectX graphics drivers that power the machine or by adjusting how much memory the operating system uses. We’ll update this story with any new information.
Microsoft’s hardware uses the same kind of AMD processor as the PS4, so it might seem odd that developers are having such a hard time with the Xbox One. The likely culprit is the slower DDR RAM that the Xbox uses compared to PS4’s speedier GDDR5.
Gamers have focused a lot of attention on the capabilities of the Xbox One — especially as it compared to the PS4. Sony’s machine is $100 less expensive than Microsoft’s, yet games that run on both devices tend to look slightly better on PS4. A noticeable example is the recent Konami release, Metal Gear Solid: Ground Zeroes, which features better weather effects and crisper polygonal models
At the same time, most evidence suggests the human eye cannot tell the difference between 720p and 1080p on a 40-inch television from more than 7 feet away. So while the PS4 is seemingly more powerful than the Xbox One, that won’t matter for many games. Of course, if you have to make a choice between one version or another, who wouldn’t pick the one that has even hard-to-perceive benefits?