4K is exciting, right? It feels like the next step. It’s being pushed like it is, at least. The new wave of consoles, which aren’t even really next-generation hardware, are all about video games utilizing 4K displays. Resolution boosts are always going to feel like a big deal. Hell, I remember the first time I saw HD video; it was mind-blowing. But there’s a big issue with the 4K shift that I don’t think enough people are talking about and by big, I really mean big.
Final Fantasy XV, one of the most visually impressive games you can play today, is coming to the PC after over a year (by the time it launches). In coming to the PC, it’s using Nvidia Gameswork to really boost it to the next level. A level so high (and probably poorly optimized) the recommended system specifications are top of the line. It’s also, um, a 170 GB download. That’s insane by today’s standards and potentially a huge problem.
We haven’t had a true 4K game hit the market yet. Much of the current support for the PlayStation 4 Pro are different tricks to get to something resembling 4K, such as upscaling and different techniques based on geometry. But full 4K assets are another story. Game updates for the Xbox One X may be the first examples of us seeing that happen, and what those file sizes may be has not been disclosed yet. Final Fantasy XV may or may not be a worst-case scenario, but right now it’s a hint at what may be to come.
If what we’re seeing with this game, while still acknowledging Square Enix’s poor history with PC ports, remotely resembles the standard, there are going to be some issues. A lot of these issues are weight added to the shoulders of the gamer, or the consumer to be more accurate. 4K could very well hit us right where it hurts the most: the wallet. And if these upgrades are unavoidable? Yikes.
The first problem is storage space. 170 GB for a single game is crazy! I thought I was pissed when DOOM started approaching 80, and that was with a bunch of multiplayer fluff I never bothered with after several updates. Consoles right now were originally shipping with 500 GB drives, which filled up in no time; juggling installed games had never been a concern for me last gen, but has been a huge problem now. The new consoles are shipping with 1 TB, and while that’s double, it’s going to go away just as fast.
After that, what about the internet? We’re all still arguing about whether or not going all digital with current-sized games is a problem or not. High bandwidth internet is quite a ways away from 100% penetration, even in places like America and Asia. And if speed isn’t an issue, limitations sure are. Data caps are becoming more and more of a predatory practice from Internet service providers, as demand only goes up as time goes on. Some data caps, even for high-speed internet, are as low as 300 GB a month. That’s not even enough to download Final Fantasy XV twice.
These are two major problems that crop up, even after all the other expenses necessary to jump into 4K gaming. While the technological arms race continues into perpetuity, we’re paying for it – literally. Many people out there feel like it’s too soon for this stuff to be mainstream, yet it’s being pushed forward anyway. It sounds good; 4K is great for marketing. But will it feel good if every game lands at 100 GB or more? It won’t, especially for those of us without Scrooge McDuck money vaults.