Or, why we absolutely do not need 4k gaming any time soon.
Let me preface by saying that I have a background in tech. I’ve been up to snuff on computer hardware for a while, some legends estimate that it’s been exactly half my life at this point. (But I digress.) I’ve seen the transition from dial-up internet to DSL to whatever kick-in-the-pants speeds we have now. And that’s been great! I remember when standard definition capture cards were expensive. Point being, I’ve been through a lot of tech “revolutions”.
For the most part, they were great. It was cool to suddenly see videos and movies in clearer resolutions. Movies were the first big thing to make the transition. And it was cool! Suddenly the big screen in the movie theater didn’t seem so big, and it didn’t seem as special. I could see whatever I saw there in my house, no problem.
Fast forward almost two decades and, full disclosure, I’m so sick and tired of having 4k gaming, 4k video, 4k vlogs of someone running errands at the supermarket pushed down my throat. We’re not even at the pinnacle of HD video yet. Phone video still, quite honestly, looks like shit in some cases.
And as a species, humans still have fixated on the best and newest thing. And that happens to be 4k. This frustration is no doubt brought on by Microsoft’s E3 conference this past Monday, where they announced Project Scorpio, slated for a holiday 2017 release. It’s all well and good that Microsoft wants to push the boundaries of what they think is possible.
The thing is, we can’t even get many games to run at a full 60 frames in 1080 HD. We’re not there yet. I’m going to pull examples from Playstation 4 releases here, but the difference in processing power between the current PS4 and the Xbox One consoles is negligible. Fight me.
For some of the biggest releases in gaming this past year, there have been frame rate issues. It’s not that a game can’t get up to 60fps regularly, it’s that they’re having trouble hitting 30, in some cases. The Witcher recently introduced a patch to improve sections of the game that were consistently running at 20 frames. Bloodborne, what I consider to be one of the best-looking games on the PS4, is locked at 30 frames and has trouble getting in that many when there are masses of enemies on-screen.
I’m not here to discount console gaming, despite the fact that I’m not a console gamer myself. The truth of the matter is that consoles are not at the level of 4k gaming and they won’t be for a while. PCs, with their ever-improving arsenal of new graphics cards and DDR4 RAM, can’t do 4k gaming yet at a reasonable framerate. In my opinion, the so-called dream of 4k gaming is so far off that I just don’t think we should try for a while.
That being said, I don’t want a standstill of improvement. Make high definition gaming more crisp. Optimize games to run at 60 frames on consoles. We need to concentrate on bettering what we have rather than moving on to something that may give us a worse result if pushed too soon.
I admit that there is a difference between 4k and full HD. There’s also a difference between standard definition and HD, but it’s a bigger jump than this. The main difference I see between the two shots is the crispness. 4k looks real crisp. Conversely, the HD image just looks like it needs a boost in dynamic range to match.
All of this rambling is to say that, hey, maybe we don’t need 4k video. As humans, our eyes can’t tell the difference between 4k and 1080 when it’s in motion. A still image is one thing, but in some cases a film camera can produce a better image than a digital one, right? There’s a reason brands like Leica still make film cameras.
Another thing is, 4k video is still wicked fackin’ expensive dude. It’s expensive to develop for, expensive to own, and expensive to mass-produce consoles that will run 4k. The price point will not even be in the ball park of affordable for a very, very long time. I’d argue that video games just aren’t affordable, period, but that’s another article for another day.
Now, is this one article going to stop 4k from being pushed in video games? Absolutely not, I don’t think I have that much power or influence over anyone. Was it necessary? Nope. Then again, neither is 4k gaming.