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  • - So we've just gotten our first real look

  • at Xbox Series X gameplay,

  • and I think the sentiment might be slightly underwhelming.

  • So there were certainly some games that were standouts.

  • Of course we have "Assassin's Creed: Game of Thrones",

  • I mean "Assassin's Creed Valhalla".

  • But really the one that jumped out to me was "Medium",

  • which I think they're really good job

  • of not really leaning heavily into the very, sort of,

  • neon baked aesthetic of like some future world,

  • but instead, something which actually looks

  • really grounded in realism,

  • especially with the ray tracing put on top.

  • But this, of course, brings up a very big question.

  • With so many of these games being cross-gen,

  • where you buy it an Xbox One, you get it on Series X,

  • we shouldn't expect the envelope to be pushed that much,

  • but why exactly there's so many of these games

  • look very, very similar

  • to stuff we could have seen last generation?

  • I remember the first time that I saw 3D graphics

  • running on the original PlayStation.

  • It was mind-blowing to me to see

  • the realistic looking cars in "Gran Turismo"

  • or the enormously detailed worlds of "Final Fantasy",

  • in a console that I could actually play at home.

  • My next console was the Nintendo GameCube,

  • back when Nintendo really were on top of their game

  • from a technical perspective,

  • You look at games like "Smash Bros. Melee"

  • or even something like "Pokemon Colosseum",

  • which I played a ton of, and it was a huge step forward.

  • And then when I got an Xbox 360,

  • that was almost the biggest leap yet.

  • Now, at the time, I actually was still using a CRT,

  • but even so when I first put in that Mirror's Edge DVD

  • and got to really experience

  • not only the incredibly clean art style

  • but that incredible world, I was like,

  • "Wow, where are we gonna go next?"

  • But the problem has been that we really haven't gone

  • that far over the last 15 years.

  • With the Xbox One and PS4, while graphics looked better,

  • when you consider there was seven years

  • between the 360 and the Xbox One,

  • the actual improvement in graphics wasn't that impressive.

  • Certainly nowhere near what we had seen

  • with previous generations of consoles,

  • and now that we're going into the Xbox Series X and PS5,

  • there's a real question here

  • of why don't these games look better?

  • Why don't we see these massive leaps like we used to

  • going from PS1 to PS2?

  • Well, a little bit complicated,

  • but I don't think that we're seeing those massive gains

  • anytime soon.

  • The game has completely shifted, these days.

  • So take the original PlayStation 1, for example.

  • This launch with a 33 megahertz processor

  • and three megabytes of RAM,

  • which was impressive enough to actually run full 3D games,

  • for maybe not the first time,

  • but it was certainly a huge step forward.

  • But a mere six years later, we got the PlayStation 2,

  • and it was an order of magnitude more powerful.

  • We went from 33 megahertz processor to almost 300 megahertz.

  • We went from three megabytes of memory to over 30 megabytes.

  • And that was only in six years, right?

  • It's crazy to think about

  • just how fast advancements really happened

  • in those early days of 3D.

  • Another six years later and we got the fat boy himself,

  • the PlayStation 3.

  • This two things up to a whole nother level,

  • as we went from a single-core 300 megahertz processor

  • to a seven core SPU,

  • essentially seven 3.2 gigahertz CPU cores,

  • and that was backed up by another

  • almost tenfold improvement in memory.

  • And when you look at games, like the "Last of Us"

  • toward the end of the PlayStation 3's lifecycle,

  • it is clear that this was a quantum leap

  • over the PlayStation 2.

  • Not an actual quantum leap.

  • That's probably a little bit harder.

  • But it was a huge, huge improvement.

  • So when 2013 rolls around

  • and we get our hands on the PlayStation 4,

  • what we see is a very different Sony

  • and a very different gaming industry as a whole.

  • So you see Sony is that company,

  • sort of had this weird mentality

  • where they were very focused

  • on this thing called making a profit,

  • and that is something that the PlayStation 3

  • famously did not do for a very long time.

  • So the issue of the PS3 was that even though

  • it was wildly expensive out of the gate,

  • it was like five, 600 bucks.

  • But, even at that exorbitant price tag,

  • Sony were still probably losing money

  • with every single console they sold.

  • Now, ultimately, toward the end of the generation

  • they had been able to work out the kinks,

  • drop a lot of the features that were in the launch PS3,

  • and they're able to make at least some of their money back.

  • But the problem was that while the console

  • was very much ahead of its time,

  • making money, pretty important.

  • So when it came time to bring out the PlayStation 4,

  • it was more conservative in pretty much every single aspect.

  • So, yes, it did have eight times as much memory,

  • which is pretty much on par with what we had seen

  • jumping from previous generations,

  • but everything else was a little bit more subdued.

  • So, yes, five times the graphics horsepower sounds great,

  • except that in previous generations

  • we were getting like 10 times the graphics performance,

  • going from generation to generation.

  • And one of the real downsides with PlayStation 4,

  • was it is downright an anemic CPU, right?

  • So, I actually went to a GDC, one year,

  • or maybe it's PlayStation Experience,

  • but I went to a Naughty Dog talk

  • right after they had ported "The Last of Us"

  • from PS3 to PS4, and they had, in some of their simulations,

  • seen that the PlayStation 4 CPU was actually less powerful

  • than what they had been working with on the PlayStation 3.

  • Now, generally speaking, I think that might be

  • slightly overblown, but there is absolutely no doubt

  • that this was not the huge 10 times leap in performance

  • that we had seeing with previous generations,

  • and sadly, it seems like that trend

  • is just going to continue going into the next generation.

  • Seven years after the Xbox One and PS4,

  • how does this new generation stack up?

  • So I'm gonna take the Xbox Series X here, for this example,

  • because it is clearly the more powerful

  • of the next generation consoles.

  • And there's some good and some bad.

  • So first of all, on the processor side,

  • we see a four times improvement to performance, nice.

  • Maybe not quite as big

  • as we used to see in those early days,

  • but obviously an improvement is an improvement.

  • And the graphics are also a nice step forward.

  • We're getting eight times the teraflop number,

  • and realistically, probably,

  • even a little bit more than that compared to the Xbox One.

  • Now, the memory side isn't quite as impressive,

  • we're only getting double the memory,

  • but still, there's a lot of good stuff here.

  • But the issue is that while the Xbox One and PS4

  • were built to a spec that was essentially equivalent

  • to a low to mid-range game PC from 2013, these new consoles

  • are basically at the bleeding edge of PC hardware,

  • which means that they've pretty much gone

  • as far as they can.

  • Short of any of the crazy stuff that Sony used to do

  • with the PS3 or something, we've hit sort of peak console

  • in that then it really is almost hit parody

  • with the PlayStation.

  • PlayStation?

  • PC.

  • PC and PlayStation, not the same thing.

  • But, of course, the PS4 and Xbox One

  • are not the only consoles of this generation,

  • as they both got mid-cycle refreshes.

  • The PlayStation 4 Pro, as well as the Xbox One X,

  • and when you compare those to the new consoles,

  • it's not quite as impressive of a jump.

  • So the Xbox One X was famously much, much more powerful

  • than the original Xbox One, which means that if you get all

  • the number soup out of your head, the Series X only has

  • a little bit over double the graphics horsepower

  • and only about 1/3 more memory.

  • Now, there's certainly other advantages in the SSD

  • and the CPU, but we're not on par to see any kind of

  • 10x performance across the board

  • with these new consoles whatsoever.

  • They're very good, but they're just simply limits

  • that we're starting to hit

  • that consoles really have not hit in 20 years.

  • For a very, very long time, Moore's law meant

  • that we really did get doubling of transistors

  • and therefore performance, every couple years or so.

  • Now that continued for a very long time.

  • But these days, it is really tough to get those doublings

  • and four times and 10 times performance

  • like we used to, right?

  • The best way to think about it is like this.

  • After 20, 25 years of console development in 3D space,

  • if there's an easy way to get more performance,

  • someone's definitely done it, right now, right?

  • All the easy stuffs off the board,

  • which means that for every couple of percentage

  • of performance improvement on the memory, on the processor,

  • on the graphics, all that stuff

  • takes an enormous amount of work, which just means

  • that we don't see those 10x performance increases

  • at all anymore.

  • Which is fine, bit it just means that our expectations

  • of what consoles are going from one generation to the next

  • have to shift with that.

  • Another element as to why games

  • that are on the next generation don't look better

  • is actually a little bit of a simpler one.

  • At a certain point when games start looking pretty real

  • it takes a whole lot more power to bring it from

  • pretty real, to really, really real, right?

  • There's a very steep curve.

  • There's a law of diminishing returns.

  • It's tough to basically make something go

  • from good to great.

  • It's easy to go from bad to okay to good,

  • but that next level is way more difficult.

  • So let's take an example of what was something

  • really impressive to me back in the day,

  • which was "Ryse: Son of Rome", a 2013 Xbox One launch title.

  • This game looked incredible,

  • it really did show the performance

  • of the next-generation consoles.

  • And while, yes, it might not be quite as nice looking

  • as a later generation launch,

  • but it still was a major step forward.

  • However, what do you do to make this look better?

  • Sure you can add more detail to the faces

  • and sort of build bigger worlds,

  • there are things you can do,

  • but it's sort of just taking that good

  • and just making it a little bit better.

  • It doesn't really sort of bridge the gap

  • in a way that previous generation consoles were able to do.

  • If you look at something like "GTAV",

  • going from last generation to current generation,

  • what you saw was that, yes, the resolutions went up,

  • the performance went up, you got more graphical options,

  • but at their core, these games were very similar.

  • They were just enhanced versions.

  • And that really goes for, I would say,

  • the vast majority of Xbox One and PS4 games

  • compared to their previous generation counterparts.

  • You can make bigger worlds with more memory,

  • you can make more detailed character models,

  • but there's nothing that really separates these two consoles

  • beyond just the mere four times more performance

  • or five times more performance

  • that the hardware is capable of.

  • Now that's fine when obviously

  • that's all you have to work with.

  • But there is an ace in the hole

  • for these next-generation consoles,

  • that does go beyond just a few more vertexes and pixels,

  • and that is ray