Konami has released a comparison of Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes on PlayStation 4, PlayStation 3, Xbox One, and Xbox 360. The visual comparison is meant to show how improved the current generation versions are compared to their latter generation counterparts, but Konami included some extra information as the bottom of the page. The PlayStation 4 version of Ground Zeroes will be running in 1080P resolution at 60 frames per second (FPS), the Xbox One version stays at 60FPS with a downgrade to 720p, and the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 versions will be scaled to 720p running at 30FPS. Konami will also be releasing a comparison video soon.
With the launch of the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One, resolution and frame rate have become a larger part of the conversation in the gaming enthusiast community. "Resolutiongate" came about because gamers were about to pay up to $560 for a new console and the latest version of Battlefield or Call of Duty, but they didn't know which version was better because publishers/developers were keeping things quiet. In the absence of information, speculation abounds and it became a tense minefield for publishers and platform holders to navigate.
Since that earlier lack of clarification, gamers have begun demanding this information for their favorite upcoming titles. It's become the new normal. They're met with replies of "1080p" or "720p", matched with "30 FPS" and "60 FPS"; if indeed they hear anything at all.
In the past, publishers and developers weren't exactly forthcoming with the hard numbers, choosing to instead focus on the overall experience. But the discussion has changed recently. Konami's open release of information is the beginning of a shift in how companies handle that information. To a certain segment of the community and mainstream game players, these are useless numbers and benchmarks, so why do they matter for gamers?
Right now, part of it is just having enough information to make a solid purchasing decision. The $400 entry barrier is far more than a drop in the bucket for many consumers. (Including journalists: USgamer staffers Pete and Cassandra have yet to pick up either the PS4 or XB1) When I upgrade my PC build, specs are a primary focus; I don't just pick the mid-range video card and call it day. I research temperature, power usage, and physical size. I go to sites like Tom's Hardware and AnandTech to see how things stack up. For me, this extends outside of gaming: I spent months researching the right vacuum to buy. Some people just want to know their money is well-spent.
The PlayStation 4 is clearly ahead technically when it comes to the current crop of releases. Multiplatform titles like Battlefield 4, Call of Duty: Ghosts, Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag, and Tomb Raider: Definitive Edition are all looking technically better on PS4 over their Xbox One versions. If you don't care about certain exclusive titles like Forza Motorsport 5 or Ryse, that's important information, especially when the Xbox One carries a $100 premium.
For some players, the difference between 30 and 60 FPS is absolutely integral to their experience. If you're sensitive to it, the judder caused by lower and unlocked frame rates can be very distracting. Certain games, like racing and first-person shooter genres, can see a great benefit on 60FPS when it comes to playability. That's why Call of Duty: Ghosts on Xbox One downgraded to 720P; the solid Call of Duty gameplay is reliant on the high frame rate.
"We optimized each console to hit 60 FPS and the game looks great on both," said Infinity Ward's Mark Rubin prior to Ghosts' release.
Resolution is less of a problem for many players, but it can be a big part of overall image quality. Playing on a recent big-screen television? The jump from 720p to 1080p can be rather noticable in either direction, depending on scaling. I have two TVs in my living room, a smaller 720p-only set and a larger 1080p set. When I have to jump between both TVs - I have to share the bigger TV if I wish to keep the peace - the downgrade of moving to the smaller set is noticeable. And that's before getting into anti-aliasing, tessellation, and other visual effects that make high-end enthusiasts hot and bothered.
And that's an important distinction. There are high-end enthusiasts for whom frame rate, resolution, and overall image quality are primary factors in their experience. I understand that may seem odd for others in the community, but enthusiasts in other mediums differ from the mainstream just as much. I drive a stock Honda Civic, but a car enthusiast may only want to drive a Civic pushing more than 100 horsepower. High-end film watchers are big on things like cinematography, which most of us probably don't notice. When those guys come home? That Blu-Ray better have a great transfer, because that's a thing that some people really care about. On those last two links? You probably own a number of those films on Blu-ray and were never bothered by the picture. Different enthusiasts care about different things.
So, publishers like Konami getting out in front and releasing this information is a great thing. More information, when taken outside of the context of the console wars, is always better for consumers. I like the change because developer/publisher openness means I have to use less of my 15-20 minutes of interview time on those specifics, which should be out in public anyways. That's better for your the reader because you'll know the answers to those simple technical questions and it frees me up to ask more creative or business-related questions.
Now I'll digress for a bit at the end here. Sometimes the enthusiasts can become zealots. For many mainstream players, a certain experience or product can just be good enough. Sure, if you put 30FPS and 60FPS side-by-side, people should be able to tell the difference. Put the Xbox One and PS4 versions of Call of Duty: Ghosts next to each other, and your average GameStop customer may pick the PS4 version as better. But a lot of time, people just don't care. They pick a system, they buy the games, and they're fine with that. I try to help my family make game-related purchasing decisions, but at a certain point I'm just being pushy and enthusiast and it's best to just walk away. Occasionally you can help others with their choices, but sometimes they don't want your help past a certain point. It's probably a good idea to learn when that point is.