If I asked you what the biggest buzzword of E3 2017 was, you will probably be able to guess it without too much thinking. Yup, its 4K, and frankly, I am tired of it. It’s been imprinted so deep into our minds that I wake up at 3am every morning from nightmares that come at me in native 4K. Or in checkerboard 4K. I can’t really tell the difference.
It was the main focus of Microsoft’s E3 conference with the reveal of the quite impressive looking Xbox One X. Don’t get me wrong, I want one, and I am impressed by its capabilities, but it almost seemed to be the only card up their sleeve. Microsoft is selling the new console of being capable of being true native 4K rendering, something that it’s rival, the PS4 Pro, is not quite capable of doing. But it’s not as clear cut as that, and it’s slowly becoming apparent that it’s not all as clear cut as Microsoft is making it out to be.
Not the first Rodeo
Not too long ago, the newly announced PlayStation 3 was touted of being capable of giving us a Full HD, 1080P experience. The key-word here being “capable”. Sure there were a few launch titles and some exclusive games later on that ran at 1080P, but it was the minority. Most games simply ran on 720P, which was widely considered the norm, and basically what all Xbox 360 games were sold as. Microsoft back then didn’t even try to sell Full HD. It was Sony’s claim to fame and the justification to the exorbitant price that they asked for their console at launch. Some of us fell for it. That and it being capable of playing Blu-Ray movies was seriously enticing offers.
The 4K misnomer is a bit awkward. For previous resolutions the vertical pixel count was used, but 2160p isn’t as catchy as 1080p or 720p. The new horizontal pixel count is 3,840, which is pretty close to 4,000 or 4K. So while the total pixel count is four times more pixels, the jump isn’t as massive as many people think…
But the jump is still huge. A lot bigger than the SD to 720P HD jump, which our consoles from that generation effectively did. But is it really more significant? And why is it being touted as the be all and end all of gaming?
It was a bigger deal back then
As I already said, the jump from SD to HD was a big thing back when the Xbox 360 launched. So much so that it completely changed how we looked at the games back then. You really felt compelled to invest in an HD Ready or Full HD TV because the visual difference from what you got on a digital flat screen TV and your old CRT LG Flatron was like day and night. But I’m really not seeing that same uptake from gamers regarding 4K. There’s several reasons for this. One, 4K is still damn expensive, yeah, the price has come down, but it is still a significant investment. Two, the Full HD TVs you own is still good enough.
Sure, I know there’s lots of people out there that have invested in 4K TVs, and if anybody asks me, if you’re buying a new TV, buy a 4K TV, but go out of your way to get one? Not so much. Yeah it looks great, but do you really get the bang for you buck at this stage of the fight? Even movies on Blu-Ray, and streaming services don’t offer that much 4K content yet. Yes, it is there, but you have to go out of your way a bit to get it, especially in this country.
And even that brand new PS4 Pro or upcoming Xbox One X is not fully capable of delivering 4K to you on a regular basis. Yes, you will get a few games that run at native 4K on the Xbox One X, but even some of the games showcased at Microsoft’s E3 conference have been shown to use checkboarding, which is basically what the PS4 uses for everything 4K. So we’re not completely there yet.
We’re not there yet
The pixel counting will never go away, it’s been ever present, especially at the start of the 8th generation of consoles when the PS4 outperformed the Xbox One on about every front, with a lot of Xbox titles being down-scaled just to be able to run smoothly. But it has now started going overboard, with 4K being the biggest selling point for an upcoming console. A console, that no matter how you look at it doesn’t have any other reason besides it’s resolution output and a racing game to be considered as a purchase. That’s it, it’s the sole claim to the market in terms on new product that Microsoft has to offer. Almost everything else is available either on other platforms, or exclusive to Xbox for only a short period. And if there was something else that Microsoft has on offer, then it got lost in all the 4K that they were jabbering on about the whole conference.
With the exception of a few people on social media singing the gospel of Xbox One X, there’s so many people I know that really don’t care about it. Sure it’s cool, but most is either, “it’s too expensive” or just simply, “meh, where’s the games?”. So why is it that Microsoft is so hellbent on selling this thing? Sony is not far behind, but they’re knee deep into the VR thing, that 4K almost seems like an after thought to them.
So please can we shut up about it now
We are all here to play games, and talk about games, and enjoy playing games. Hell, look at what Nintendo is doing with the Switch, it’s nowhere near the power houses that is PS4 and Xbox One, but people are lapping it because they’re making gaming seem fun. And giving us games! Even I want one, more than an Xbox One X, and I’ve never owned a Nintendo console in my life. That thing is amazing and a lot of fun!
It’s why we are here, and why Sony is killing it with the PS4, because they’re giving us what we want. I’m tired of all this pixel counting, really I am. I just want want to play games. So please, Microsoft start making games I want to play on your console, the resolution really doesn’t matter that much. Just make it fun. All this pixel counting can really now just 4K right off!