First Click: Are Sony and Microsoft’s new consoles PC gone mad? – The Verge

The problem is that no-one’s quite sure how this is all going to work in practice. Microsoft’s Aaron Greenberg, for instance, proclaimed that there would be no Scorpio exclusives, while ignoring that only the newer console is said to be VR-capable. Xbox chief Phil Spencer said that Scorpio “is not going to do anything for you” if you don’t have a 4K TV, after earlier suggesting that developers would be free to use Scorpio’s 6-teraflop power to create better-looking games at 1080p. (Microsoft did not respond to The Verge’s request for clarification.) And we know even less about Sony’s Neo.

On paper, existing Xbox One and PS4 owners have little to worry about — their consoles will continue to work the way they did when they were bought. But if the newer models sell well, developers may have less incentive to target the original boxes, meaning that their lifespan may be shorter than you’d otherwise expect. Conversely, the older models may be albatrosses around the newer systems’ necks, forcing developers to design their games for a lower specification and build up from there. And if it does turn out that Scorpio targets 4K rendering at the expense of visual quality, quite a few people who would otherwise be interested in upgrading will consider it wasted power. 4K resolution is incredibly difficult to push even for the highest of high-end gaming PCs, and the trade-off is unlikely to be worth it for a console. Offering PC-style variable hardware without giving users control over how it’s used feels like a dubious move.

I’m a serial console buyer, and I would have expected myself to pick up both Neo and Scorpio. But the more I think about it, the more I think I won’t want to unless either offers something spectacular that’s yet to be revealed. Instead, I built a new PC this week with a GTX 1080, and I think that’ll last me long enough — I’ll still have the original PS4, Xbox One, and eventually Nintendo NX for exclusive games on my sofa, and by the time the 1080 is long in the tooth, maybe the next next Xbox and PlayStation will be out.

The shift to a more flexible release cycle could well be a good thing; the fixed generations are certainly anachronistic for the tech world at large, and different levels of hardware will offer more choice over where to buy in. The current usage of more conventional architecture means it’d be strange not to capitalize on the potential flexibility. But Sony and Microsoft’s quest for better performance is bound to run into compromises, and that’s what’s ultimately likely to drive me to an even more flexible solution: the PC.

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