Why The Xbox One 1080p ‘Controversy’ Is Silly

Senior Contributor
11.04.13 34 Comments

First it was Call of Duty: Ghosts. And then it was Battlefield 4. It looks like the Xbox One has a problem on its hands. Here’s what’s going on, and why gamers should calm down a bit.

What Is 1080p?

It’s an image resolution; 1080. The “p” stands for “progressive”, as if the game were a series of photos shown very quickly to you. Currently, the “perfect” resolution and frame rate for video games is 1080p at sixty frames per second.

I Take It The Xbox One Cannot Achieve That?

You’d be correct to do so. And the PS4 can, which is ticking people off.

Explain it to me with as little jargon as possible: Why?

The short answer is the system memory and how it’s used. You know how, when you buy a laptop, you see something marked 2 or 4 or 8GB RAM on the box? Think of that as the computer’s “short term” memory; it’s where it caches data you’re going to be using fairly quickly. The more you have, the faster your system as it doesn’t have to find things on slower storage solutions, like your hard drive.

But there are multiple kinds of RAM. The PS4 has 8GB of Graphics Double Data Rate version 5, or GDDR5. The Xbox One has 8GB of GDDR3.

Let Me Guess: The Older Version Isn’t As Good?

Yeeeeep. Which is a problem as, to anticipate your next question, the Xbox One is $100 more than the PS4. There’s also some question about how much of the memory is being eaten up by the console’s operating system.

Why Did Microsoft Go With The Crappier RAM?

Hell, who knows why a major company does anything? It was probably cheaper, and that was likely a big factor.

Will I Actually Notice This Playing These Games On These Systems?

That hinges on two questions: How much of a crap you actually give about this in the first place, and how big your TV is. If you don’t care, at all, then you probably won’t notice the difference between the next-gen versions and the current-gen ones. And if your television is smaller than your average grade schooler, then you will never notice the difference anyway.

Will It Affect The Game?

Not a damn bit.

So Why All The Screaming?

To be honest, while this is undeniably minor in the long run, it’s something of a PR black eye to Microsoft, and they don’t need any more of those. And it’s not like gamers need an excuse to reignite the Great Console Wars, which will not end until the console industry implodes like a dying star about five to ten years from now. Then they’ll start fighting over operating systems again.

Will They Ever Fix It?

Yeah, probably. It’s not an insurmountable problem, it’s just one Microsoft didn’t anticipate and developers haven’t figured out how to solve yet. In a year, the question will be moot. It’s just a bit silly and embarrassing, kind of like your aunt’s fashion choices.

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