News: Xboned

PlayStation 4 vs Xbox One
PS4 comes out on top of the Xbox One.

Microsoft’s Albert Penello Surfaces to Lie Some More

In light of the 40-50% power advantage that the PS4 enjoys over the Xbone, Microsoft’s senior director of product planning [and sophistry], Albert Penello, took to NeoGAF during the lead-up to the next-gen launch in order to repeatedly make the ludicrous claim that the PS4’s blatantly superior specs did not translate into real world performance, while sowing various other forms of FUD. After being repeatedly told that he was full of shit [on account of being full of shit] this abortive exercise culminated in Penello going off on a rant wherein he demanded an apology from all of NeoGAF if it turned out that the performance difference between the PS4 and Xbone was actually marginal.

I do want to point out, this original discussion started with me saying, “Games on both systems look great. Look at Forza, Rise, Dead Rising, etc. All next-gen, on par or better than anything out there. We believe this 50% number is overstated”

Then people said, “that’s subjective, we want proof”

So I explain that we have people on the team who are very experienced optimizing tools and development for graphics (DirectX, etc.) because we are a SW company, and that we have balance in the system in other places that equalize the playing field.

Then it’s said that was all hokum, you’re just spinning, we want math and more detail to prove what you’re saying.

So at THIS point – I go talk to someone. “Hey, you helped design our system. You’re a sr. technical leader at Microsoft. You’re sitting with 3rd party developers right now who are working on both systems. Can you give me some points to help explain why nobody is seeing this rumored 50% delta”

Then I publish the points, so now I have GAF telling me a developer working on our system is wrong, and that I should just let the games speak for themselves.

Which is where I started. And since my attempts to provide more direct lines of information aren’t considered truthful, because I’m not the source.. then I agree we are back where we started.

I will ask two questions of the detractors, honest questions.

1. What piece of information would you want that I could provide that would convince you there is not a huge delta in performance?
2. If it comes out after we launch that the difference between 3rd party games is maybe single-digit FPS between the two platforms, will I get an apology or concession?

Needless to say NeoGAF was never in any real danger of having to apologise to Penello, and many members are in fact waiting for their own apology from Penello, or at the very least for him to give account for his outlandish claims. Alas, Albert Penello went missing from NeoGAF right after the launch of the Xbone, when it became apparent that many of the more technically ambitious games struggled to hit 1080p on Microsoft’s console, with a number of them running at the last-gen standard of 720p.

This week, as it turns out, Penello decided to emerge from Microsoft HQ – not, alas, in order to provide NeoGAF with a richly deserved apology at having to tolerate his bullshit, but instead to blatantly spout more of his untruths. According to Panello not only are the vast majority of multi-platform games identical across both systems, but the Xbone is also host to the most graphically impressive title on any platform [in the form of British elephant simulator, Ryse].

Look, I had a lot of time to think about this and I believe in what I said. I believe that the differences between the boxes [PS4 and Xbox One] is not all that great and I know what is going behind the scenes and I have access to more information about some of this thing than a lot of people. Sometimes people tend to neglect the points that are in my favor and they like to highlight the points that tell me I am wrong. I still think Ryse is still the best looking game on any platform. Period. End of story.

I think if you look at the title which we launch, which were multiplatform titles, The bulk of them were the same. I think there were 12 titles released on both platforms [PS4 and Xbox One], leaving three all of them had the same performance on both boxes. Everybody wants to focus on frame rate, there is the Tomb Raider, there is a resolution thing going on and OK, there could be a lot of reasons why that could be true but we are just a [few] weeks in, we just shipped, it’s a long generation. People who bought an Xbox One are going to be in for an awesome generation of games that are only going to get better. I think these little things get way overblown versus like the quality of the games and the real differences in experiences which are pretty minor.

Like a mother with an ugly child, Albert Penello thinks that his baby is the cutest, yet, like a mother with an ugly child, he is also wrong. In terms of core graphics Ryse is certainly a pretty game, yet in order to accommodate the visuals the game had to run at 30fps in a 900p resolution, and the game itself was little more than a succession of smallish interconnected rooms. Contrast that with Killzone: Shadow Fall, which [arguably] looks better in terms of core graphics alone, and yet is comprised of large open-ended levels which are displayed in 1080p at 30fps during the campaign, and in 1080p at 60fps for the multi-player.

More perplexing still is Penello’s insistence that most of the launch multiplatform titles were identical across both platforms. Certainly, there was Need for Speed: Rivals which achieved platform parity, along with [presumably] a handful of EA Sports titles which were released – but the only other content which could reasonably said to achieve platform would [likely] be Indy content. In contrast to that, the year’s biggest multiplatform action games [Call of Duty: Ghosts, Battlefield 4, Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag] all ran at a resolution deficit on the Xbone platform.

Tomb Raider XBox One Fake Cover Art
A less than definitive game for a less than definitive platform.

Tomb Raider: The Definitive Edition Enjoys a 100% Performance Advantage on PS4

It is not only in terms of resolution that the PS4 is able to out-muscle the Xbone however, as this week’s release of Tomb Raider: The Definitive Edition sees the PS4 version enjoying a 100% advantage in terms of framerate. This came as something of a surprise to many people, as Eurogamer had quoted executive producer, Scot Amos, as saying that the team’s performance goal for the game was 1080p at 30fps a mere week ago.

The original goal for us, looking at both next-gen consoles… our minimum target was always gameplay front-to-back being 1080p and frame-rate 30fps.

Evidently that 30fps goal was only indicative of the Xbone version of the game, as the PS4 experience is now understood to be a predominantly consistent 60fps. The framerate of both games is unlocked, yet the Xbone version averages 30fps – achieving highs of 45fps when nothing is happening on screen, and then crashing as soon as the action starts. Meanwhile, the PS4 version is said operate at a reasonably consistent 60fps, with the occasional dip bellow if things become too hectic.

This story was originally broken by a small site by the name of Rocket Chainsaw, who claimed to have come by the information through an anonymous source of theirs. Subsequently however, Scot Amos flatly stated during a GamesRadar Twitch stream that the PS4 version of the game was running at 60fps.

Looking here, this is the PS4 version running at 60fps, again at 1080p. That’s awesome for that to be able to showcase because when you get your hands on it you can feel it.

Players can indeed feel it, as a higher framerate can make an immense difference to the feel of a game. Interestingly, the Xbone’s inability to keep up with the PS4 has not narrowed one iota in the two months since both consoles launched, and may in fact have worsened, as a 30fps lead indicates a greater performance differential than a mere 1080p VS 720p resolution discrepancy. What is still unknown is whether the poor performance of the Xbone is due to the system’s weak GPU or complicated memory management system – as a GPU that is 40% weaker should not lead to a performance deficit of 100%.

Resident Evil (2002) Slider
Remember when Capcom made games that looked like this?

Capcom’s Five Year Plan Reads Like a Bucket List

This week Capcom have seen fit to detail their business plan for the next five years, and, well, things do not look overly good for anyone wishing to see the company make a return to form. Front and center in Capcom’s plans is the profligate release and coordination of DLC, the expanded provision of mobile content, an expansion of their online operations, and finally brand content is mentioned as a mere afterthought.

In June 2013, we started discussions to create a five-year plan consisting of a 60-month map and a 52-week map. One element is a comprehensive review of our software development operations.

In 2014, we will integrate our global operations and sales departments. Our goal is to further strengthen marketing strategies for (1) downloadable content (DLC), (2) mobile contents, (3) online operations, and (4) brand contents.

The funny thing is that previously in the article Capcom chairman, Kenzo Tsujimoto, had stated that “our mobile contents business has not met our expectations“, and yet here he is doubling down on mobile development to strengthen [?] Capcom over the next five years. The thing about mobile development is that it is a real crapshoot as to whether a developer can release a hit game – with success very rarely being tied to a game’s inherent quality.

Moreover, it is the very definition of ‘arsebackwards’ to list the development of DLC as a leading priority while including brand content as an afterthought – as it is Capcom’s brands and the retail games that they are attached to that will be expected to serve as vehicles for this impending glut of DLC. Once Capcom loses the perceived value of their IP and are neglecting the development of their retail games, then, really, what will they have left to their name?

On a more positive note Tsujimoto did state his goal to hire an additional one hundred people a year to strengthen internal development, yet, given Capcom’s previously stated goals of flooding the market with throw-away content, it hardly seems likely that they will be put to good use. Moreover, it is also a great mystery as to where the money for such extravagance is to come from, as just months ago Capcom looked to be on the verge of bankruptcy.

2 comments

  1. I really think the Xbone’s performance problems have to do with the complicated memory structure. Reading through Penello’s block of text does reveal one truth: Microsoft is a software company. Of course Penello’s army of coders are so great that they can make up for the Xbone’s hardware issues through software, isn’t that the same thing they said leading up to the launch of the 360?

    The way I see it is there is a reason my gaming PC has a CPU with DDR3 RAM and a GPU with GDDR5 RAM. I bought my 680 to handle the graphics for my PC because my i7 and DDR3 RAM are better suited for other tasks. This has been something that has been known for years, even game consoles switched to GDDR-based RAM when it was invented.

    Microsoft would have been better off doing 4 gigs of GDDR5 and 4 gigs of DDR3 RAM, but they were more focused on making the Xbone for anything but gaming. Now they are stuck trying to optimize drivers (so they say) to try and make up the gap. I know Xboners are enchanted by the ESRAM, saying it has magical powers to suddenly make DDR3 RAM perform the same as GDDR5 RAM when it comes to graphics, but if that is the case, why is it absent from top of the line GPUs?

  2. It is absent from top of the line GPUs on account of the fact that relatively few PC enthusiasts would wish to play their games in 720p!

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