When the Xbox One and PS4 consoles were announced in 2013, a lot of speculation surrounded them concerning both their power and longevity. Will these be the consoles that sit under consumer TVs for the next five to ten years? What does that mean for the industry moving forward in terms of progress?
The Xbox One and PS4 are more than just gaming machines, though the messaging from Sony would have you believe otherwise. Both machines are capable of video playback at 1080p, boast Blu-ray support, can serve as music media console hubs, and the Xbox One even allows you to make Skype calls with friends across the world. While the gaming is now clearly the focus of the console manufacturers, it does leave others to speculate on their media future.
In a report by the Huffington Post U.K., Netflix CEO Neil Hunt said that Sony had a hardware revision in the works, and that could mean 4K support for their console. Microsoft’s Xbox One would be wise to follow suit if they mean to compete and maintain their claim of the “All-in-one Entertainment System” that accompanies their name on many a press release.
It’s important to note, however, that this is strictly talking about video playback. In a world where the Xbox One can’t even reach 1080p 60 on first-party titles, let along cross platform games, it would be asinine to think that developers found a magic elixir that makes UHD gameplay possible on the hardware. Xbox One is at a distinct disadvantage, with only a handful of high profile games even running at full 1080p 30. Sony doesn’t fare much better, with companies touting 1080p 60, only to quietly backtrack weeks before launch.
So why would Xbox One and PS4 be getting 4K support, even though the format supported isn’t even going to help the console’s primary function? Forbes has an interesting theory. In the opinion piece, author Paul Tassi has the reader look at Netflix’s motives for this move. Netflix would have a lot to gain if they could tout being the only provider of 4K content on these consoles. Think about the advantage it would give them over Hulu Plus, HBO Go, and other apps on the Xbox One and PS4.
In the end, 4K support is sweeping the nation, with TVs, Blu-ray players, streaming companies, and a vast majority of PC games offering support for the format. Xbox One and PS4 have plenty to worry about getting games to just 1080p, let alone 4K. Microsoft and Sony would be wise to keep that in mind before pursuing other avenues to eke out resolution where they don’t need to do so. Make sure Uncharted 4 runs at 1080p 60 like originally targeted, as well as Xbox One’s Halo 5: Guardians. Leave 4K for TVs and PC.