Why Next-Gen Resolution Shouldn’t Still Be a Controversy (and Why It Is)


Trials Fusion is lower resolution on Xbox One, and you should expect this by now...
Trials Fusion is lower resolution on Xbox One, and you should expect this by now…
Last week it was learned that Trials Fusion, an upcoming downloadable title by UbiSoft, would run at 900p on the Xbox One and 1080p on the PlayStation 4. As expected, the internet exploded into controversy. This time it was two fold, on one hand you had the typical “lol Xbone” comments while on the other you had people baffled as to why a small downloadable game had issues reaching 1080p on Microsoft’s console.

Cutting through the PlayStation fanboys dancing on the corpse of another Xbox One game, and the Xbox Mafia again going on the offensive and spewing profanity and slurs to anyone who said “900p” on Twitter, there’s a couple things very apparent with this revelation. The first is that resolution-gate is still very real, and the second is that it shouldn’t be a controversy at this point in the next-gen console race.

Both consoles have their strengths and weaknesses and by now those should be common knowledge among both gamers and the journalists who are supposed to inform them. Never before have we seen the sort of smokescreen put up by gaming publications to obscure the truth and create a false parity where there isn’t one.

Those of you who have been gaming for a long time will remember the SNES vs Genesis console war well. Some of you may be like me and owned both consoles, and if you did you knew that each one had specific strengths and weaknesses. The SNES had a much more robust sound chip, and displayed graphics with a stunning (at the time) 256 colors. The drawback is that the system was a bit slower than the Genesis, something Sega capitalized on with their hilariously fake “Blast Processing”.

Everyone knew the differences between the SNES and Genesis Mortal Kombat
Everyone knew the differences between the SNES and Genesis Mortal Kombat

The thing about that time was that gaming magazines informed their readers about the differences between the two consoles. If the Genesis version, despite a lower color palette and tinny sound, was the better one to buy you would know about it. No one said that “color palette doesn’t matter” or try to convince you that the human eye couldn’t even see 256 colors, so why are journalists doing the same thing with resolution-gate now?

Even in the 32-bit generation, when everyone knew the PlayStation was the stronger horse in the race (thanks mostly to some of Sega’s blunders), the differences between the two systems were well documented. Most people knew that if you wanted to play 2D arcade games, such as the Capcom fighting games, you wanted to have a Saturn for it despite the PlayStation delivering the superior 3D performance.

Arcade fighter fans knew to buy a Saturn for the 2D Capcom games.
Arcade fighter fans knew to buy a Saturn for the 2D Capcom games.

This continued even up to the most recent console generation where it was well known that multi platform games generally looked better on the Xbox 360 due to the “discount GPU” that Sony put in the PS3. Gaming sites and cross-platform comparison sites had absolutely no problem pointing out a power difference last generation, yet they don’t dare do it this one.

Obviously the answer as to why resolution-gate is still an issue and a controversy six months after the next-gen console launch lands right on the shoulders of game journalists. This console launch, more so than any other in history, has shown gaming sites completely fail in delivering honest and unbiased coverage to their readers regarding the truth of the two new consoles in terms of the power differences between them.

The hard specs of both boxes were widely available long before launch. Most large gaming sites should have a PC editor that’s at least familiar with GPU specifications and could tell the console editors how an AMD GPU with 32 ROPs is intended for 1920×1080, while a GPU from the same manufacturer with 16 ROPs is only intended to output 1600×900 with optimal settings.

Yet instead of doing something like this, sites are spewing absolute stupidity like saying the human eye can’t see the difference between 1080p and 720p. They made misleading spec comparison tables that hid the real specs of the systems for generic descriptions. They’re trying to hide the issue. Shove it under the rug, and hope that no one notices.

Why are they doing this?

Some say that it’s just to appear neutral, but they’re appearing neutral by outright lying and misleading their readers. Others say there’s a bigger issue surrounding a PR firm used by one of the console makers who will “greylist” journalists who go “off message”. Jim Sterling explained how he was greylisted by Microsoft’s PR firm where they wouldn’t talk directly to him. He explains the situation in this YouTube video and this series of tweets.

I own both next-gen consoles. I’ve been saying that if you could combine the operating system from the Xbox One (and the features it has) with the raw power of the PlayStation 4, you’d have the best system ever made. My Xbox One gets a lot of use as my TV goes through it and I like the voice commands, but I’m not blind and I can absolutely see that Dead Rising 3, Ryse, and Titanfall are all running at much lower resolutions than the games on the PlayStation 4.

I know most gaming journalists aren’t blind (otherwise how do they type out their misleading updates?), so why are they acting that way by not giving their readers the truth? Twenty years ago we heard the truth about the differences between the SNES and Genesis, we deserve the same in 2014.

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