Or why there will never be a Sony PS5
State of Gaming: The hardware and the future
Microsoft and Sony have engaged in a heated console war for the past 16 years, going all the way back to 2001, when the original Xbox was released. Both companies also face stiff competition from PCs, but may nally be taking signi cant steps to address that.
At E3 in June, Microsoft unveiled the Xbox One X, the most powerful gaming console ever built, with an octa-core AMD CPU clocked at 2.3GHz, 12GB of RAM, and a 6 Tera op GPU. It competes directly with Sony’s PS4 Pro, which was unveiled at last year’s Tokyo Games Show. What’s unique about these two consoles is that, for the rst time, Microsoft and Sony are breaking their usual ve to seven year console cycle by releasing what are essentially next-generation consoles mid-cycle and mandating that all new games must work on both the new consoles as well as the existing Xbox One and PS4.
In the past, console gaming has revolved around generations. Every ve to seven years, Sony and Microsoft (and before them, Nintendo and Sega) push the reset button and release a completely new console built on new architecture that is incompatible with the previous generation. This lack of compatibility between generations has always been one of the big drawbacks to console gaming.
The other big drawback is that ve to seven years is a very long time in hardware terms. As a console reaches mid-cycle, its non-upgradeable hardware starts looking very dated in comparison to the latest PC hardware, which can easily be upgraded every year. In fact,
“In the past, console gaming has revolved around generations. Every ve to seven years, Sony and Microsoft (and before them, Nintendo and Sega) push the reset button and release a completely new console built on new architecture that is incompatible with the previous generation.”
of the PS4 and Xbox One are substantial enough to make them perform like nextgeneration hardware, and games on the Xbox One X and PS4 Pro run at 60FPS in 4K resolution HDR just as well as any gaming PC. Sony Computer Entertainment CEO Andrew House acknowledged that, “there’s a dip mid-console lifecycle where the players who want the very best graphical experience will start to migrate to PC, because that’s obviously where it’s to be had.”
But with the Xbox One X and PS4 Pro, Microsoft and Sony seem to have nally solved both problems. Although neither company may label their new consoles as “next-generation” the technological improvements over the launch version
So what changed? Just take a look at the hardware inside the consoles. Inside both the Xbox One and PS4 is effectively what correlates with standard PC-style architecture – they’re basically PCs. With this architecture in place, it’s easy for Microsoft and Sony to release new and upgraded versions of the Xbox One and PS4 whenever the old hardware starts falling behind. For marketing purposes, they might eventually change the name of these consoles, but under the hood, they’ll still largely resemble the current consoles. That means if you’re a console gamer, you’ll never have to worry about backwards compatibility, and you’ll never have to settle for inferior graphics again. Your move, PC.