Xbox One: A 50 Year Old Gamer’s View

Is The Xbox One Ready for Gamers?

Or, is just another TV playing device? Today’s announcement recalled just how great Xbox has been. And, now what is new about this great Xbox One? Yay. New advancements in gaming? Mostly graphics. Lots of same old stuff such as exhausted franchises trotted out?

Yep.

What does a 50 year old gamer thinks about this new “bad boy”?

So, let’s get to brass tacks, shall we?

1) Design looks like a DVR/TIVO (same basic size as the original 360, if the pics are any indicator)
2) The controller hasn’t changed too much (not necessarily a bad thing)
3) New Kinect 2. (Refined, I’m sure)

The new ‘Xbox One’ is all about devices, and controlling them or reducing them.  Via Kinect 2, it purportedly switches between TV, games, music, etc. as fast as you can tell it. MS is promoting it as “Intelligent TV”. Online gaming, etc. will be powered by 300,000 servers. That is a lot of freaking servers.

Promised: 15 new, ‘exclusive franchises’ within first year. That said, here is a quick comparison between the upcoming PS4 and the Xbox One:

Xbox One Specs:
HDMI in/out -1080p and 4K (Note: the HDMI 1.4a on Xbox One is only capable of 24FPS. Great for movies, not so much for games)
500GB HDD
50 GB Blu-ray drive (likely will read up to the mythical 100GB disks, as the nearly decade old PS3 does)
8 GB ram, DDR3
GPU similar to Radeon 7790 (rumored)
8-core 64-bit x86/x64 AMD Jaguar APU rumored to be running at 1.6GHz (in all probability, it’ll scale between high and low speeds just like any modern PC processor)
USB 3.0

Sony’s PS4 Specs:
GPU similar to Radeon 7870 (again, rumored)
HDMI -1080p
Probably a 500GB HDD (not announced yet)
50 GB Blu-ray drive (no doubt 100GB also)
8 GB ram, GDDR5
8-core 64-bit x86 APU (Jaguar –probably the same one)

Although these specs are quite similar, and amount to a middle range gaming PC, development for a fixed platform entails much software optimization, similar quality which PC’s can only obtain via brute force power (read: higher end CPU and GPU). It is likely that games will be quite similar between these consoles, and maybe even superior looking to PC’s for a year or so (the optimization aspect). Without optimization, the GPU’s would fare little better than a standard GTX 650 or 650TI. That is not a lot of frame rate, depending on what effects are turned on. Then again, most TV’s max out at 60FPS anyway.

Sony has been reversing direction and making many, many inroads towards independent developers of late, so with their purchase of Gaikai, we will see how that strategy goes.

In delivering a new gaming device, what matters is the games. Thankfully, both consoles have a decent CPU/GPU that will likely support decent AI, (on which development died off from maybe 7 years ago thanks to 360 and PS3’s CPU’s not being well suited to AI). CPU’s handle different processes these days, and are not the same in terms of requirements as they once were in gaming, the big stuff all goes to the GPU, so a small low power “limited CPU” may not be as big of a deal as some surmise. And of course, both have plenty of RAM–8GB is more than enough to tackle just about anything developers are likely to throw at it any time soon.

So the final prognosis? Cautious optimism, for both systems.

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