“Hey, been on the road last couple weeks so haven’t had a chance to update, but wanted to confirm that for Xbox One we’re 1080p upscaled from 720p. And, we’re native 1080p on PS4. We optimized each console to hit 60 FPS and the game looks great on both. Still on the road, but glad to see the great reception to Extinction. Can’t wait for next week’s launch.”
You have to admire his honesty. Infinity Ward executive producer Mark Rubin there, setting some corners of the internet aflame with one nonchalantly-phrased, specially extended tweet confirming a minor difference between the PS4 and Xbox One versions of Call Of Duty: Ghosts.
Most people might have seen this, shrugged, and probably moved on with their lives. But many didn’t. In an unprecedented piece of timetabling for the games industry, we’re about to see a new PlayStation and a new Xbox arrive within days of each other, and Sony and Microsoft are battling over each and every sale. This stuff matters.
When players have a straight choice between two consoles, it becomes tribal. Paying a giant corporate entity hundreds of pounds, dollars or Euros for a new videogame console isn’t something you should take lightly. Are you Xbox or PlayStation? Why?
And in justifying that choice, citizens of the internet want answers. Which is more powerful? Which has the better games? The latter question comes down to personal taste, but the former, well, that can be objectively proven. (And we make no apology for playing our own part in that debate).
A slight difference between two versions of the same game is all NeoGAF needs – there are countless threads on the web’s biggest games forum comparing the different versions of Battlefield 4 and Call Of Duty: Ghosts already. The thread based on Rubin’s tweet alone stretches out to, at the time of writing, 70 pages and 3,446 individual posts. Remember, this is a discussion about barely noticeable difference in two versions of the same videogame. The internet, ladies and gentlemen.
Endless debate about resolution discrepancies will change very little, but this latest development does feed into and enrich the wider narrative of this race, which has been developing since the start of the year. There’s lovable old Sony, humbly making up for the hubris of the PS3’s launch by claiming the hardcore’s hearts and minds with its cheaper, more powerful, ‘#4ThePlayers’ PS4. Microsoft, meanwhile, plays the role of the blundering, but filthy rich, corporate giant – first announcing a console built around what it wants, then quickly amending those plans when it realised no-one else did. It’ll succeed by way of buying up format exclusives and spending whatever it takes on marketing.
Though each little caricature might reflect some truths, they’re essentially nonsense. But these notions carry weight out on forums and social media. Sony and Microsoft are each large businesses selling you a product, fundamentally, and yet they inspire strange loyalties; every perceived blow to one console or the other becomes a weapon with which to taunt the opposition, and a tool to justify your choice. When comments threads and forums explode, it’s usually because the commenter disagrees with the writer; most would rather hear an opinion which enforces and validates their own than challenges it.
Comparing videogame culture to that which surrounds other media is tiresome, but it’s nonetheless true that TV, movies and music can’t boast of a similar rivalry between just two competing factions. Nor can it speak of a fanbase so passionate, outspoken and, sometimes, polarised. Fanboyism feels uniquely ours, childish as it may be. It’s the digital schoolyard, the videogame equivalent of “my dad’s harder than your dad”.
So as the arguments continue to rage, the debates becomes ever more absurd and the terrible spelling continues to spew forth, don’t sneer, and please don’t despair. When videogame culture can produce gifs as perfect as this, it’s something to be celebrated.
Special thanks to the people of NeoGAF for this gif, taken from this thread.
Edit: Sadly the above has since been removed, but this piece has in itself produced its own gif. Thanks again to the people of NeoGAF. Magnificent.