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Microsoft's Phil Spencer Urges Gamers to Remember Games Are More Than Technical Specs

Phil Spencer of Microsoft urges gamers not to get too hung up on how small the technical upgrades from current-gen systems to next-gen are, and I cannot help but agree with him.

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In times past, upgrading from one console to the next was always a very big deal.  Going from Nintendo to Super Nintendo or from Genesis to Dreamcast, there were extremely obvious technical improvements which were immediately more obvious in the improved graphics and gameplay features.  

The upcoming consoles, despite their superior power to the current console generation, do not bring the same level of obvious graphical improvement.  People have noticed many of the games which will be releasing both on the next-gen consoles and the current consoles have surprisingly similar resolutions.

Microsoft's Phil Spencer has come out with a statement to address this issue before gamers get too upset about the technical specification similarities.

Right now, gamers don’t have the games to go play. They can’t walk into their local store and play the games. So, it doesn’t really surprise me that they’re going to focus on the specs that they can. I don’t criticize anyone for doing that. In the end, we play the games, not the resolution,

One could argue this statement is effectively dodging the issues many gamers are bringing up.  It does not address the similarities in resolution at all.  In fact, it does not even attempt to defend them, despite the compelling arguments doing exactly that, for people who look closely enough.

Phil Spencer is still 100% correct.

Microsoft's public relations have not been good lately, but this is one statement the company has made I can get behind.  One of the main arguments that keeps coming back up in the gaming world is cost: how expensive it is to produce games, and how expensive it should be? One of the arguments continually repeated by those who feel games do not need to be so expensive is that graphics do not make the game.

The reaction many people are having to the similarity in resolution between current and next generation consoles is not only undermining that argument but outright disproving it in many cases.

Admittedly, it is hard to blame someone too much for wanting to see an obvious upgrade when they shell out hundreds for a new console while their old one still works fine.  The fact remains, however, that the graphics are not the most important feature of a game.  The recent XCOM remake could have been done in the same graphic style as the original and still be a good game.

Don't buy a new gaming machine for the graphics, buy it for the reason you would keep it if you already owned it.  Buy it for the games.

Originally Published Nov. 7th 2013

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Writer, gamer, and generally hopeful beneath a veneer of cynicism.



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Comments
  • 36
    Ryan Kerns 10 months ago
    Featured Columnist
    I think part of the problem here is the level of detail that's available to designers now is so high it's causing the average development cycle of a game to double or even triple. First party games that have had that crucial early access to the hardware like Killzone and Infamous will noticeably do things that current gen hardware can't pull off.

    On top of things the difference between 1080p and 720p isn't even perceivable unless you are on a display that's 50 inches or better. Then you have tech right around the corner like 4k resolution and Oculus Rift that could be considered the "true" next gen.

    It will definitely be interesting to see how things play out...