Future Tech Trends
Bennett Ring looks into his crystal ball...
After recently returning from the world’s biggest PC hardware show, it was impossible to ignore the biggest trend sweeping PC makers – Virtual Reality. It makes perfect sense really. Only 14% of gamers have PCs powerful enough to run today’s HMDs at the required 90Hz for a smooth experience, so it’s no wonder that every motherboard and graphics card maker wants a piece of the VR action.
Nearly every product at the show had VR-Ready printed in large logos over it, even though many of these products have not been certified by Oculus nor HTC. The fact that each of these VR kits cost over $1100, plus need a $1000+ PC will be a huge deterrent to many who want to enjoy the VR craze, which is where the Playstation VR hopes to capture a huge niche.
Slated for a release price of US$399 in October, it’s obviously not going to have the same specs as the high-end PC kits. It’ll use a 5.7 inch 1080p OLED display with a 100 degree field of view. Sony claims the screen will refresh at 120Hz, but it’s actually using some software trickery to double the native 60Hz refresh rate. According to those who’ve worn one, it’s actually far more comfortable than the Vive or Rift, and there’s no risk of fogging as there’s a large amount of open space around the lens.
Sadly it won’t come with motion controllers – you’re going to need to fork out for the Playstation Move Wands and Camera for that feature. Sony is planning on having 50 titles ready by launch, including the new Resident Evil. It’ll come with a breakout box to deliver the extra horsepower necessary to run the twin screens at such high resolution, though there are rumours that the new PS4.5 will have the necessary grunt to do away with such a box.
Whether you believe it or not, the industry is getting behind VR in a big way. It’s no surprise really – we’re at day one of the VR revolution and the experiences are already mind-blowing. Give it a couple more years of development and we think it’ll become the preferred way to play.
ONLY 14% OF GAMERS HAVE PCS POWERFUL ENOUGH TO RUN TODAY’S HMDS AT THE REQUIRED 90HZ FOR A SMOOTH EXPERIENCE
The console cycle as we know it is now over. Both Sony and Microsoft are releasing mid-cycle systems, refreshes that aren’t just smaller versions as we’ve seen in the past, but with new GPUs and CPUs to deliver better gaming performance. Let’s look at Sony’s version first.
The PS4.5 is claimed to be able to deliver 4K gaming, but again it does so via software trickery. Rather than natively render the game at 4K, which would require $2000 worth of GPUs, it simply upscales today’s games to the new resolution. However, it should hopefully include the new Ultra HD Blu-ray standard, which will run movies in true 4K resolution.
According to leaked specs, the PS4.5 (aka Neo) will have a faster CPU, running at 2.1GHz vs the 1.6GHz of the existing model. More importantly, it’ll double the GPU horsepower. Today’s PS4 has an integrated AMD GPU with 18 Compute Units – Neo will double this to 36. Even better, they’ll run at 911MHz compared to the 800MHz of today’s PS4s. The difference this will make in performance simply cannot be understated. The memory will also be faster, up 24% from 176GB/sec to 218GB/sec.
These are some serious hardware upgrades, but existing PS4 owners need not fret. Every game made moving forward must support both versions of the PS4, with the newer version obviously having enhanced visuals.
On the other hand, Microsoft announced two new consoles at this year’s E3. First is the Xbox One S, which should bring 4K upscaling and 4K Blu-ray support to the table. It also has HDMI 2.0, which supports HDR. Microsoft were mum on the improved internals, but it is 40% smaller than today’s Xbox One.
More exciting is Microsoft’s new “Scorpio” Xbox. At this year’s E3, Phil Spencer promised it would be the fastest console ever made, and it’s due for release in 2017. Many believe this may actually be the Xbox Two, and not just a simple upgrade to today’s Xbox One. Again, MS remained very quiet about what’s inside, but they did claim it has six Teraflops of performance, five times that of today’s Xbox One. It’ll also run Windows, and is going to be powered by an AMD APU.
Finally we have Nintendo’s NX console, which it refused to reveal at E3. Due in March 2017, it’s rumoured to be as powerful as today’s PS4… which means it will be thoroughly outclassed by both Sony and Microsoft’s new machines. Yet Nintendo has rarely ever been about brute strength, so we can expect a far more competitive price point than its competitors. As for the controller, patents suggest Nintendo is sticking with a design very similar to the Nintendo Wii U controller, which we’re not so sure is a good idea. It’s just a rumour though – don’t be surprised if Nintendo blows us out of the water with some new form of controller.
Finally, wrapping up our look into the future of games is the continued dominance of mobile gaming. Deloitte Global predicts that in 2016 mobile games will be the leading game platform in terms of game sales, generating US$35 billion. That’s a huge 20% increase over 2015. There are currently over 800,000 mobile games on the market compared to 17,000 for PC and consoles, and it’s all thanks to the low barrier to development. However, now that the market is absolutely jam packed with titles, most forecasters expect growth to slow. Hopefully that doesn’t mean yet another version of Candy Crush in the near future.
Not Pictured: The virtual porn he's currently watching
Candy Crush of the future!