Microsoft is trying to start something. The product page for the Xbox One Project Scorpio console is now online, and it has a rather interesting line in its product description. It reads, “The first and only console to enable true 4K gaming and high-fidelity virtual reality.” You know, totally ignoring the fact that the PlayStation 4 Pro and PlayStation VR are both already out, providing 4K gaming and virtual reality to console owners. It’s a shot across the bow, to be sure. But, should we really be taking any of this seriously?
Is being what a company considers the first 4K system such a good thing, though? Is this something we should be touting? I mean, it is firstly inaccurate. The PlayStation 4 exists. But more important, this is still a very new technology that not everyone has access to. Few can take advantage of 4K, so trying to make a case for being the first may not be the best thing?
Here’s the thing about 4K gaming. It has the potential to be a great thing. People who are capable of enjoying 4K are very lucky people. They’re also quite rich people. A PlayStation 4 Pro will cost you $399.99. A decent 4K TV will probably cost at least the same price, perhaps even more. We don’t know how much Project Scorpio will be, but it’ll surely be priced similarly. It’s expensive. If you can’t afford the TV to go with it, a PlayStation 4 Pro is about as useful as a standard PlayStation 4. Same with the Project Scorpio and Xbox One.
It’s also an experimental thing. I know we all like to refer to virtual reality, either the headsets on the market or the HoloLens. as the current technology that isn’t 100% ready. But, 4K tech is just as tenuous. Not every game is getting a PlayStation 4 Pro patch. We don’t know how many Xbox One games will look better and bolder on Project Scorpio. This is just as new. Both the systems first supporting it aren’t relying on games 100% designed with these sorts of systems in mind. Rather, we’re getting existing games that will have better textures or minor additions that make the 4K version slightly different and improved.
Think about what 4K on the PlayStation 4 has given us so far. There are better and more consistent frame rates. There are better textures. The cutscenes may look better, we may get improved draw distances, shadows could be more realistic. There could be more detail. They’re niceties, but not the important kinds of differences that make a system seem like a must-buy. Especially when the majority of games and people can’t support it. The Project Scorpio will likely put us in a similar place.
We’re a little early to start trash talking or proclaiming anything the ultimate 4K console. The technology isn’t prevalent enough, advanced enough, or in enough homes to start clapping back and fighting for superiority. It’s fine for companies to talk about how they want to try and offer an optimal, 4K experience for everyone. But let’s wait for the real 4K wars when the majority of people playing games can enjoy it?