Talks of the next generation of video game consoles continues to heat up, though things have taken an unexpected turn.
One of the major talking points of both the Xbox Series X and PlayStation 5 is, of course, the underlying hardware. As with every console before they key question in everyone’s mind is how powerful it is. While both Microsoft and Sony have shared some details on their next-gen efforts, the whole picture remains a little cloudy.
However, not everyone’s happy with the appetite for information. In a curious move, David Prien, senior hardware director at Xbox, took to Twitter to ask the question of why everyone wants to know what’s under the hood of the consoles before they’ve launched — comparing the desire to know the details to movie spoilers.
Serious question, not looking for toxicity or box wars. Why do people want to know specs of anything so far in advance? Will it change what you buy since it will be same day of launch? To me it's like movie spoilers I don't want to know until I buy my movie ticket.
— David "8K" Prien (@dprien) January 8, 2020
At face value, this is an odd question. Both brands behind the next-gen consoles launching later this year are feeding coal to the hype train by a slow drip-feed of technical details and abilities afforded by new power. At E3 last year, the Xbox reveal trailer confirmed the upcoming console would be 4x more powerful than the One X. Microsoft states that it’s the most powerful console it’s released to date, touting 8K visuals, frame rates up to 120fps, and hardware-accelerated ray tracing.
Across the globe, Sony is singing much the same tune. Although we’re yet to see a physical console — just the logo — the Japanese brand is promoting very similar abilities, with 8K, ray-tracing, fast-loading from a solid state drive, and so on.
How could one not wonder what’s under the respective hoods? Indeed knowing what the hardware is can directly inform whether the machines’ touted abilities are realistic or best-case scenario.
That said, Prien’s point is, in part, sound. For many users, the choice of console is already locked in, and knowing whether one has slightly more RAM — and of what type — won’t affect the purchase. Worse, the information will all make its way into a spreadsheet for no other purpose than paper-racing and the interminable “my console is more capable than yours” forum and social media discussions which predate the World Wide Web.
Still, capability is no indicator of real performance as Sony found out with the PS3. A recent discussion around PlayStation’s 25th anniversary revealed that developers believe the PS3’s Cell processor is incredibly powerful even compared to today’s desktops, but it was notoriously difficult to exploit.
Rather than movie plot spoilers, knowing a console’s specs is more like knowing who the movie’s actors, production team, writers and director are. You may have a highly rated director and AAA Hollywood stars, but still end up watching Suicide Squad.
With both consoles set to release before year’s end, the clock is ticking. We’re sure to have more, if not all of the information come this year’s E3. Stay tuned!