Is ‘resolutiongate’ the new ‘bit wars’?

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gategate

The release of the PS4, as with all new consoles, has prompted intense scrutiny by consumers. There has been controversy over whether games will be native 1080p on the PS4. “Is it really that big of a deal?” I thought. It got me thinking about previous generation consoles and the technological advances that dominated the marketing for them.

The early 90’s in gaming were all about how many bits a console had. Nintendo and Sega with their 16-bit consoles battled it out through advertising, giving birth to the tag line ‘Genesis does what Nintendon’t.’ Clever, right?

Genesis-Does-Ad-Campaign-2

Both were fantastic consoles if we don’t count the 32X and Sega CD add-ons. They looked better than 8- bit consoles and the quality of games were higher too, because higher level programming meant less shovelware on the systems. Also, Mode 7 blew me away as a kid.

f-zero_gameplay

People only need to look at the awful piece of crap the Atari Jaguar was to see that bits don’t mean a damn thing. It was touted in its advertising as being 64 bits (through some stupidly complicated engineering). The games were awful and it flopped. This ad says it all:

UGH

Everyone lost their minds when 64 bit consoles like the Nintendo 64 came through. The number of bits were in the name of the console to make kids go: “Wow! My Super Nintendo only has 16 bits. That’s like three times the bits! What are bits even? I don’t know!” The shift from 2D to 3D was a huge change, so it’s understandable that a huge deal would be made about it. I can’t tell you how impressive Mario 64 looked at the shopping centres.

super-mario-64-screensaver-15

With the PS3 and 360, it was all about the cell processor and how many teraflops of floating point performance a console had. Like anybody knows what a freaking teraflop is. I wish I still had it, but I had a 2005 copy of Official PlayStation Magazine which had a huge fluff piece on the upcoming PS3, back when we all thought it was going to look like this.

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Mistakes were made.

The taglines were just precious. ‘Fastest GPU on the planet!’ ‘1.8 teraflops of floating point performance’. I’ll admit, as a 14 year old at the time, it got me really excited about it. The games did look awesome, but they were very rarely in 1080p as promised on all the hype material before it came out. Although 720p was still a huge step up from my 480p CRT carved out of a tree stump. Oh, the horror of tuning a console through RF.

What’s the difference between the examples I listed and resolutiongate? There isn’t a huge shift in technology. Last gen might be showing its age now, but it’s not a huge change from the norm. The games look better, they likely run better, but what else has changed?

People seem all too eager to get emotionally invested in the electronics they purchase. From diehard Apple and Microsoft fans, to Nintendo, Xbox and Sony fans, it all seems a bit childish. As far as the Xbox One and PS4 go, the only real difference is the exclusives and whether or not you like the controller. It shouldn’t be an us versus them problem, it should be a matter of which console fits your budget and needs.

Last Updated: November 19, 2013

stephens

Once upon a time, in a land long forgotten, I wrote for this site. The details were gobbled up by an errant database, so instead you’re reading this painfully obtuse default bio.

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