A number of things to remember before heading into this post: firstly, the “high-level” developers referenced by Edge Magazine (via their website) come from a number of sources, but the opinions are absolutely not representative of the general consensus among dev teams; secondly, both the PS4 and Xbox One are still months away, so hardware tweaks and adjustments are still likely (Microsoft has recently done just that); thirdly, these are opinions coming from developers working on launch titles, and we all know that launch titles are never indicative of a platform’s full potential. With all of this in mind, read on.
Edge has gathered numerous thoughts from various developers in an attempt to ascertain the feelings of development teams as we stare into the face of a new generation of console hardware. According to Edge’s anonymous developers, the PlayStation 4 is about 50% faster than the Xbox One. The article goes on to say that some developers describe the difference in speed as “obvious” and “significant”.
One of Edge’s sources provided a rather interesting if somewhat problematic way of illustrating the current difference between both consoles: taking an un-optimised build of a game that has been developed without a particular platform bias, the PS4 would be able to run it in 1920×1080 at 30 frames per second; the Xbox One would manage 1600×900 at around 20 frames per second.
The developers also make mention of each console’s graphics drivers, stating that optimisation for both is still something that is lacking. Apparently Sony is just managing to get PS4 drivers behaving, but Microsoft is still working on theirs. This isn’t too surprising considering the timeframe until launch of both consoles; the fact that anonymous developers have highlighted that Microsoft is slightly behind Sony in this area is not indicative of an inferior product.
One developer did, however, mention a point where the Xbox One trounces the PS4: “Let’s say you are using procedural generation or raytracing via parametric surfaces – that is, using a lot of memory writes and not much texturing or ALU – Xbox One will be likely be faster,” he told Edge.
Here’s another interesting suggestion: one of Edge’s sources has said that this difference in power might not be seen in cross-platform titles due to “enforcing parity”. Extrapolating, the source suggested that developers could purposefully “castrate” the PS4 version so as to maintain corporate diplomacy. That kind of sounds a little too conspiracy theory for my liking, especially since a second source from a different studio said they would be willing to make one version look better than the other if it was a simple process that wouldn’t cost extra during the development cycle.
It’s an interesting load of opinions, but I’d caution that they’re just that: opinions.