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For a long time I've accepted Microsoft's rhetoric on the power of Xbox One. I've gone along with the talk about balance; I've acknowledged the promise of Cloud technology; and I've empathised with its frustration over the ongoing community backlash.

But now it's difficult to be so forgiving.

With two of next-gen's major launch titles performing noticeably better on PlayStation 4, now's the time for the tough questions to be asked: why, given the £80 premium, has Microsoft failed to provide a machine capable of offering the same performance - a reasonable performance - as its rival? Why is Call of Duty: Ghosts – a game often ridiculed by the community for its underwhelming visuals – unable to render at native 1080p? And should those who have stuck with Microsoft through thick and thin over the last four months finally start to reconsider their purchase?

That final question is something I've been asking myself over the last few days, and has left me (and, I imagine, thousands of other similar-minded gamers) in an awkward situation heading into the next generation. As regular readers will know, Xbox 360 has been my predominant platform throughout the last cycle. The vast majority of my friends are on Xbox Live, I've always preferred Microsoft's UI and controller, I've invested almost 10 years into its online service, and, well... the lure of the achievements keeps me coming back.

I was also fairly convinced that multiplatform titles on Xbox One and PS4 wouldn't suffer from any major visual differences at launch. Getting a fully optimised title ready for a console launch is an enormously difficult task, of course, doubly so when there are two of them launching simultaneously. And as such, I wrongly presumed developers would aim for the lowest common denominator across both systems to get their title running stably and, quite frankly, to make their lives easier.

If Sony was ever to able to pull forward, I believed it would be later in the console's life as developers ran into bottlenecks on Xbox One and managed to squeeze the extra ounce of power out of PS4's GDDR5 RAM and impressive GPU.

Perhaps foolishly, I also believed Microsoft's bullish claims about its machine's capabilities.

"There is no way we're giving up a 30%+ advantage to Sony,” said Albert Penello, Xbox's senior director of marketing and planning, last month. “And ANYONE who has seen both systems running could say there are great looking games on both systems. If there was really huge performance difference – it would be obvious."

He continued: "I get a ton of hate for saying this – but it's been the same EVERY generation. Sony claims more power, they did it with Cell, they did it with Emotion Engine, and they are doing it again. And, in the end, games on our system looked the same or better."

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Penello's words are a particularly agonising read now. The two games we've seen and heard about so far on Xbox One – the games that could arguably matter most to a huge portion of next-gen investors –do not look better on Microsoft's console. They don't even look the same, with PlayStation 4 displaying a significant advantage in pure pixel count. Based on early indications and an ill-advised aggressive commentary, Microsoft, frankly, appears to have dug its own grave.

This week's revelations bring into question any last minute decisions over early next-gen investments. To those picking up both, on which platform should you pre-order Battlefield 4, Call of Duty: Ghosts, Watch Dogs or Assassin's Creed 4? On the face of it, it seems an easy choice: just go for the option that provides the better-looking game.

After all, much of the buzz of a next-gen launch centres around being left dazzled by those sparkling graphics. But to many players, making the switch would be to throw away years of investment and trust in a particular product and service - a conundrum made considerably more difficult when the vast majority of their online friends could still be playing games like Call of Duty and Battlefield on the weaker platform.

I still put trust in Microsoft's console offering the more appealing exclusives in the short term, and struggle to see how Knack, Killzone and DriveClub will manage to live up to Dead Rising, Titanfall and Forza.

But as we've seen with Wii U, getting a launch right can be vitally important to public perception, and once the idea that a machine less powerful than one almost £100 cheaper seeps into the mainstream, Microsoft may struggle to turn things around. And as developers grow more familiar with PlayStation 4's hardware, there's little reason not to believe that the differences between the two consoles could remain a constant.

Eight weeks ago, Microsoft's Major Nelson said that he was “very much looking forward to the next few months (and beyond) as the truth comes out” about Xbox One. The truth is out there now, and it certainly isn't pretty.

In the hours prior to the news about Call of Duty: Ghosts' performance breaking, discussed the issue of next-gen's native resolutions on Episode 35 of the VideoGamer UK Podcast. To hear the rest of the team's thoughts on the issue, head through to our podcast page.

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User Comments

MasonCooper42's Avatar

MasonCooper42@ SimonMiller

sony mistakes with the ps3 was thinking they were going to dominate as before, and microsoft proved them wrong,

at least sony had things in its favour, like more power, and ps plus

whereas this gen, there is just no goodwill to microsoft, forcing kinect on us (which isn't and shouldn't be a dealbreaker, by all accounts that's an impressive bit of kit we are getting) the trade in crap, (i don't know what my consumer rights are, but boy do i like having them!) the *****e games on demand, and they really are *****e, their version of ps plus is just terrible, not to mention it wouldnt let me download any games despite me having two months left on my gold, they wouldn't let me download a game on the "free" option until i had repaid.

sony has a more powerful machine at a lesser cost, also with microsoft's crap about no trading in, do you not think employees of game, gamestop and others aren't going to screw microsoft by pointing this out to casual consumers as a warning?

infact, this would be below the belt but if i was sony i'd use this as an ad campaign,

microsoft tried to implement a system where you couldn't lend a game to your best mate without him paying, now they've removed this system, but whats to stop them from re-introducing it? here at sony (play troll tape from e3) and just pay companies a metric-*****ton to air it right before an xbox one advert.

having said all that, i still may buy an xbox one, im still undecided. im not buying one now, or a ps4 this year, maybe in twelve months.

however microsoft and sony have given a pr masterclass which students and teachers can use repeatedly over and over and over again,
Posted 14:54 on 01 November 2013
SimonMiller's Avatar


All our comments are replicated in the forums, found here:

Feel free to upvote and downvote as you please.
Posted 14:34 on 01 November 2013
CrotchRocket's Avatar


Good article that unfortunately as an xbox fan I have to accept pretty much hits the nail on the head.

I'm a a multi platform gamer but would probably describe my xbox as my "go too" system. I started to drift away from xbox for ps3 exclusives, PC graphics and cheaper games on the PC. I've been defending Microsoft to my friends and family during the build up to next gen and have found myself genuinely getting angry at the comments on the Internet being far too quick to judge the xone. I'd saying things like:-
DRM? Well it's worked for books, films and PC games and we've all benefited. I don't understand people's issue.
Microsoft trying to rip you off!? Don't be stupid, a company charging you for goods and services? How dare they haha
180? ...... surely that's a good thing. They proved if you didn't like something there willing to change.
£80 more? We'll that's because it comes with konnect and in time we'll all wonder how we ever did without it.

I could keep going on with the excuses I've made on Microsofts behalf but to be honest after the recent resolution issues I can't be bothered keeping it up.
The main thing I can't stomach is the thought of paying for an inferior version of a game. We're talking big money here and you can argue all you like about it not being about the graphics, this is true when only one version of a game exist but I completely disagree when other people out there will be playing superior versions of a game I've payed the same amount for. I'd be a complete idiot to accept that. In what other purchase would you be happy to accept that? It's madness. I wouldn't even spend £2 on a sandwich from shop A if shop B's tastes nicer at the same price. People now saying the graphical difference doesn't matter to them are doing themselves a complete disservice.
Yes I'm still getting an xbox but until Microsoft start to release comparable multi platform games it will be for exclusive only. For the foreseeable future I see ps4 being my go too console.
Posted 14:31 on 01 November 2013
EverTheOptimist's Avatar


I've owned a 360 since it's early days and a couple of years ago I bought a second hand PS3 slim. I like both for different reasons, but usually get games for the PS3 due to it being connected via HDMI and looking a little crisper than the component leads on my haggard 360 Premium.

The 360 has a much nicer UI, and I can't state that enough. The PS3's XMB looks like it was designed in 20 minutes. I'm sure some like it, but for me it's messy and ugly. It's an issue to find content on both consoles, but the 360 is definitely the friendliest to use.

I've enjoyed Sony's exclusives much more than Microsoft's in this gen, and two of my favourite games of all time, Uncharted 2 and The Last of Us, would never have been played had I not bought a PS3. That's mainly the reason I've gone with the PS4. I'm also not a fan of the 'entertainment centre' approach MS are taking, as I don't have the hours to watch dozens of films and TV shows, hence not having Sky or Virgin media. Games and Netflix are enough for me, but that's preference and nothing more.

I think in a year's time both consoles will be more evenly matched to each other and Xbox games will all be in 1080p. The devs are working with unfamiliar systems and they'll get used to the Xbone. I don't like MS for the way they've misinformed people re: the new console, the way they've changed their policies and generally the way their leaders have conducted themselves, but the Xbone is going to be a great console for many people. If I had a family and wanted an all-in-one media solution I'd probably go for one, but as it stands I'm childless and only interested in playing games.

Regardless of my view, this has so far been such an interesting launch to follow and I think it's going to be fun to follow in the next few weeks to. No matter your opinion, we can probably all agree we've had a good time keeping up with it!

EDIT: And just adding to this, as others may have stated, the vast majority of people purchasing a console don't know or care about the issues and what has gone on. Most people won't be able to see the difference between the games and, if they do, they won't care. We're the small percentage that consider these things possibly important, I think others forget that a mum juggling a job with a couple of kids isn't going to be dissecting frame rates to ensure her children will be satisfied!
Posted 10:49 on 01 November 2013
Endless's Avatar


I'm SO glad i'm not a TRUE GAMER. Sounds like a TERRIBLE affliction!
Posted 10:37 on 01 November 2013
Karlius's Avatar


I appreciate your concern but my views do not hinder or influence my ability to mod the site correctly nor do they prevent me from sinking countless unrecognised and unrewarded hours into maintaining the integrity of the site and community I love, and the same goes for all mods.

If you are wondering why you are being targeted it's because you are the only one making faux pas. Nothing more nothing less! Stop using profanity and stop posting paragraphs of "CAPITALS" and you'll be just fine.
Posted 01:41 on 01 November 2013
RFK87's Avatar


Been a massive 360 gamer this gen, racking up over 96000GS and and embarrassing amount of hours. BUT switching to PS4 next gen, too many deal-breakers, too many 180s, and the arseholes actually had the audacity to tell me what i can and cant do with games. jumped ship right from the MS reveal about used games and despite the 180 my confidence has never been restored.

900\1080P DAY ONE launch titles here i come
Posted 00:07 on 01 November 2013
sycholect's Avatar


After Microsoft charged me £800 and put me into debt for no reason I will never buy a product from them again. [Thanks to the lovely woman at the bank for clearing that up, another £100 and it would've had to go to the HQ for processing]

***** Microsoft

Only good game that came from either Xbox consoles was Lost Odyssey which was one of the best RPG's ever made and they *****ed Mistwalker over on that as well, now they work with Nintendo primarily.

On the topic of 720p that is laughable, bloody hell, in Japan they've been showing off 8K TV's that are planned to be commercially available within the next 5 years.
Posted 23:50 on 31 October 2013
Karlius's Avatar


Cleaned up a couple of TruthSpillers posts but anytime I see a full paragraph of caps from now on just deleting till he learns. Other than that some great conversation and some not so great around the launches feels like old times.
Posted 20:50 on 31 October 2013
CharleSketch's Avatar


I got a PS3 even when most of my friends were on 360 because all they play are FPS and I wanted the far more interesting exclusives on Sony's machine. All I want are fun, interesting games. Even if they're coming out at a snail's pace, that's the reason I got a Wii U as well.
Posted 19:39 on 31 October 2013
FantasyMeister's Avatar

FantasyMeister@ Njeezy

I was chatting about this with one of my longstanding XBox friends (known him on and off over 8 years). We're both holding off, but the upshot of the conversation was that if we both went for different platforms we can always keep in touch via Raptr/Steam etc.

And of course we'd get to make new friends, always a good thing.
Posted 18:18 on 31 October 2013
Njeezy's Avatar


Forget next gen, I'm getting a SNES!

I would also like to echo the beliefs of several other forumites that the only thing that will sway me to either console is whether I can play online with my mates on it, because why would i get a ps4 if all of my friends were on an xbone ride?
Posted 18:13 on 31 October 2013
Supra_Hans's Avatar


Wow, what's with all the derranged fanboyism in this comments section?

I owned a saturn and playstation, ps2 and then jumped ship to 360 for this console generation, and the majority of my friends also picked up 360's. 18 months or so ago I would have found it hard to imagine switching from the ms platform, but with several strong ps3 exclusives towards the end of the generation, and the fact that the ps4 is cheaper, with more raw power (which increasingly seems to be evident in the games), it has definitely swung that way.

To be honest though, the platform I'm most likely to get will be the one my friends and I collectively decide on, online play and being able to stay in touch with various scattered friends has been the undersung revolution in gaming for me this gen - forget hd graphics, that is my real draw. And with an underwhelming launch line-up for both consoles, there doesn't seem to be any real urgency to make that call.
Posted 17:41 on 31 October 2013


Jesus. Great insight there, TruthSpiller. This is starting to look like a Neogaf comments thread. Where do all of these mentals come from? Is it a cyclical hibernation thing, do they only thaw out prior to the release of new hardware and crawl mindlessly to the nearest machine, to squirt their shouty, ill-informed wisdom at everyone?

Well done to those trying to inject some reasoned thought here. Though I doubt it's worth your effort.
Posted 17:22 on 31 October 2013
DaveSimonH's Avatar


"And truth is from the Truthspiller that the ps4 is much more powerful"

While I agree that the PS4 is clearly more powerful, excluding the mysterious cloud, I have trouble agreeing with someone that refers to themselves in the third person.

Frankly though, its idiotic to start divvying up the console war winners prizes before launch, and before even a whiff of worthwhile console exclusives.
Posted 17:11 on 31 October 2013
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