PS5 and Xbox X Series hit the market late last year. Both consoles are, on their own merits, next-gen systems, there’s no doubt about that. However, due to numerous rumors and strong misinformation campaigns driven, in many cases, by Sony and Microsoft’s most diehard fans, a hype was generated around them that, in the end, resulted in a major disappointment.
If we talk in comparative terms, the qualitative and quantitative leap that PS5 and Xbox Series X have marked against PS4 and Xbox One is the same that would have occurred, roughly speaking, between a mid-range PC of 2012 and a mid-range PC of 2020. However, this comparison is not entirely appropriate because, in the case of consoles, developments are built from the ground up with consoles in mind, and this means that certain games that run relatively well on consoles don’t run at the same level on PC.
PS5 and Xbox Series X have a much more powerful processor, they have GPUs that are light years ahead of those found in PS4 and Xbox One, they have a much better balanced internal structure and they also have an SSD. This component has been one of the great successes of the new generation, as it has put an end to one of the most serious bottlenecks of the previous generation of consoles. Do you think I’m exaggerating? Not at all, and one example is enough to prove it: Days Gone on PS4 has soporific loading times due to its HDD, and these are reduced to a few seconds when running on an SSD.
Sony and Microsoft have managed to build, and balance, this new generation much better than the previous one, although in general terms I think the Redmond giant has done better with Xbox Series X, as it has assembled a more powerful CPU and GPU, while Sony has limited itself to integrating a faster SSD. This allows for some really cool things to be done, as we’ve seen in Ratchet & Clank: A Dimension Apart, where the dimension changes add a really fantastic unique touch, but it doesn’t affect the actual power of the console, and will only really be taken advantage of in exclusive games.
We’ve talked a lot about the hardware on both consoles before, so I won’t go into it again. There are plenty of interesting articles available if you use the search engine. Today I want to review with you, in this special, five major problems that have seriously affected the new generation of consoles since its launch until today, and confirm that both Sony and Microsoft, have not finished doing things right despite the experience that accumulate both companies in the sector.
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Ray tracing in Devil May Cry 5 Special Edition. The result is very poor.
1.-PS5 and Xbox X Series and ray tracing: I want to, but I can’t.
I know what you’re thinking, that both consoles already have games in their catalog that use ray tracing, and yes, it’s true, but they are not able to apply this technology to a really good level, and this makes its integration is, until today, almost anecdotal.
At the time, when both consoles had not yet reached the market, both Sony and Microsoft implied that PS5 and Xbox X Series would be able to run ray traced games without any problems, that they would be ready for the task because they would have dedicated hardware to accelerate the tasks associated with such technology, and yes, it is true, both consoles have an AMD GPU that integrates a ray tracing accelerator unit for each computing unit, but in practice, their performance does not live up to the enormous expectation that they generated.
On this topic, it’s important to refer you to this article where we talked about hardware-accelerated ray tracing, and how NVIDIA and AMD solved this with the Ampere and RDNA 2 architectures. The former has a much better approach, and performs much better with ray tracing, while the latter has significant limitations that eventually carried over to PS5 and Xbox X Series.
Games like Control, Devil May Cry 5 Special Edition and Watch Dogs Legion confirm that ray tracing on PS5 and Xbox Series X has been implemented at resolutions lower than native, and with a degree of quality and accuracy so low that, in some cases, it almost feels like we’re dealing with blurs that look worse than classic screen-space reflections. The ray tracing on consoles is far inferior to that of the PC.
2.-The problem of availability: Death by success
It’s a fact, PS5 and Xbox Series X have taken the PS5 and Xbox X by storm. Users were eagerly awaiting the arrival of the new generation consoles, but during their launch a series of circumstances occurred that, in the end, made getting a unit at a reasonable price a practically impossible task.sible. In fact today, in the middle of July, it is still not possible to buy a PS5 and Xbox Series X unit at their normal recommended price.
The shortage of semiconductors, coupled with high demand, speculation and the shift of some PC users to consoles due to the cryptocurrency boom, which caused a huge increase in graphics card prices, have been the most important factors that explain how we have reached the current situation. It goes without saying that the COVID-19 pandemic, and the fact that we’ve had to spend more time at home, has also played a role.
In this case, I fully understand that Sony and Microsoft have a limited supply of APUs from AMD, and therefore can’t make as many consoles as they’d like if the Sunnyvale firm isn’t able to meet their demand. We can’t blame them for something they themselves can’t control, but it’s clear that the stores were unable to cope with the flood of bots that snatched up as many PS5 and Xbox X Series units as they could and then resold them on the cheap.
Unfortunately, the whole issue is still very much alive and kicking. If you look for a PS5 or Xbox X Series unit you’ll find that there aren’t any stores with stock available, but on the second hand market you’ll find a huge amount of both consoles being sold at inflated prices. It’s the resale business, and a reality we’ll have to deal with until at least the end of this year. Patience.
Control adapted to PS5. Low-medium quality graphics settings, 1440p native resolution and low quality ray tracing.
3.-Intergenerational gaming: PS4 and Xbox One are weighing PS5 and Xbox X Series down.
And it’s not just me saying it, it ‘s the developers saying it too. It’s a topic we’ve also discussed on more than one occasion, and it’s been clearly noticeable on PC for years, but now, with the coexistence of the new and old console generations, it’s also affecting PS5 and Xbox X Series considerably.
Just a few days ago Michele Giannone, co-founder of Invaders Studios, openly stated that cross-generational games cause bottlenecks, and also reaffirmed a theme we’ve told you about on numerous occasions, that cross-platform gaming is develop based on a lowest common denominator that revolves around the least powerful console. This means that when developing a game that is coming to PS4 and Xbox One, and also PS5 and Xbox Series X, you start with the least powerful console, which in this case would be Xbox One, and set a minimum baseline that sets important limitations.
That game, developed for all these platforms, has to be properly optimized to run on a HDD running at 100MB/s, and must have a technical approach and geometric load tuned to run smoothly on a 1.6GHz octa-core Jaguar CPU on PS4, 5GB of unified memory, and a Radeon GPU equivalent to an R7 260X on Xbox One.
By contrast, a game exclusive to PS5 and Xbox Series X would not have to start from those limitations, it could have a development focused on a technically far superior base, which would result in very significant improvements, such as superior animations and AI, larger and more geometrically loaded worlds, advanced effects and better use of the SSD, among other things. Sadly, cross-generational gaming is going to be a reality until at least 2023, so PS4 and Xbox One are going to continue to weigh down their older sisters for a considerable amount of time.
Watch Dogs Legion runs better on an RTX 2060 Super than it does on Xbox Series X.
4.-The price of games: Playing on PS5 and Xbox Series X is more expensive.
For a long time, console gamers have played with an important advantage over PC gamers, the optimization and peace of mind of not having to worry about meeting the minimum requirements of each game, but they have also had to assume an important counterpart, a higher cost of video games for their platforms, if we compare directly with the price of these on PC.
With the launch of the new generation consoles, PS5 and Xbox Series X, there was a considerable increase in the retail price of games. In the case of PS5, I’ve seen exclusive games for the console with a launch price of almost 80 euros, and in the case of Xbox Series X I don’t remember seeing anything above 70 euros. To put this in context, I remind you that the normal average price of new releases on PS4 and Xbox One was stabi60 euros.
This increase in the price of video games has been justified by arguing that, with the arrival of the new generation, developments are becoming more and more expensive, and therefore it is necessary to sell them at a higher price to compensate for those costs. I’m not going to discuss this question because I don’t know the real cost of developing a triple A game, but I can understand that the fact that PS5 and Xbox X Series exclusives reach a smaller user base, and therefore present a lower profitability in the short and medium term, will also have an influence.
In any case, the important thing is that now, playing on PS5 and Xbox X Series is more expensive than playing on PS4 and Xbox One, and the difference is more than evident. A PS4 user buying ten games a year at their launch price will take on an approximate spend of €600 a year, while a PS5 player buying ten titles at a price of €75 will have spent €750 a year.
The Witcher III will receive a “next gen” patch for free.
5.-Lack of exclusives and the next gen patch problem
Stop for a moment and think, without having to Google, how many exclusive games have received PS5 and Xbox Series X, and when I say exclusive I mean releases limited to either of the two consoles, ie the new generation. Few, right? And the most interesting ones are, so far, the ones that PS5 has received.
That dearth of next-gen exclusive games has become a major problem because it ultimately prevents us from more clearly showcasing the potential that PS5 and Xbox Series X have to offer versus PS4 and Xbox One. Yes, we can take an intergenerational game and add ray tracing, reduce load times, and improve graphical settings, but it will still be an intergenerational title. In this regard, I refer back to Ratchet & Clank: A Dimension Apart, a game that incorporates impressive real-time dimension shifting, and proves that it’s possible to innovate thanks to the new generation.
The lack of exclusive games for PS5 and Xbox X Series has a very simple explanation that we’ve actually given you before, and that is that they are very expensive developments that have a lower return on investment than cross-generational games, as they only reach the user base of both consoles of the same generation. next-gen. To put it in context, just remember that PS4 and Xbox One have a user base, respectively, of approximately 115 million and 50 million users, while PS5 and Xbox X-Series S have an estimated user base of 10 million and 5.9 million, respectively.
In the midst of that problem of lack of next-gen exclusives and cross-generational development is another issue that has generated a lot of controversy, next-gen patches. When you buy a game for PS4 or Xbox One, the most common thing is that the game will work on PS5 and Xbox Series X, but in order to activate next-gen upgrades you will, in some cases, have to pay money.
Not all developers are offering free patches to enable those next-gen features, which means that those users who are stretching their PS4 and Xbox One because they can’t find PS5 and Xbox Series X units at full price, and who are buying games for both consoles, will have to pay money to be able to enable the next-gen features of those games when they can make the jump to PS5 and Xbox Series X.
Is it fair to charge for providing a patch to enable that next-gen “mode” of a PS4 and Xbox One game? I think it’s a tricky question at heart, as we’re in a whole new situation. The backwards compatibility that PS5 and Xbox Series X have implemented is at a level we could never have imagined, and this leaves us to question whether or not it’s ethical to charge for such patches.
In my opinion, ideally, given the current situation (console shortage and resale), developers should offer free updates for a reasonable period of time. That period should at least cover the time needed until the stock of PS5 and Xbox Series X normalizes, and after that it would be understandable that they would start charging for those patches.