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Talking Point: Does the PS4 Need 4K Resolution?

Posted by Sammy Barker

A question of perspective

As expected, Sony’s CES press conference focused heavily on 4K resolution. Like 3D before it, the manufacturer spent the majority of its showcase demonstrating a new line of Bravia televisions that will attempt to drive the standardisation of the burgeoning format. The company also touched upon re-mastered Blu-rays, video cameras, and more, all emphasising the importance of the technology going forward. But with the impending PlayStation 4 rumoured to support the new fangled feature, do we really need it?

For those that don’t know, 4K resolution is a fresh format based on images approximately four times the size of 1080p. The technology essentially amounts to crisper looking content, especially on bigger screens. Imagine the jump between standard definition and high definition all over again, and you should get an idea for the scale of the improvement.

With television sales in need of a boost, and 3D-enabled sets not proving the catalyst most manufacturers anticipated, electronics companies are betting big on the new technology to reignite the market. That means that the format is guaranteed to infiltrate other forms of media, such as movies and video games, in order to encourage consumers to upgrade. But isn’t it all a bit premature?

With television sales in need of a boost, companies are betting big on the technology to reignite the market

In its current guise, the PS3 struggles to run games at 720p. Most titles are upscaled to meet the resolution requirements of your HD television, with Call of Duty: Black Ops being a particularly high profile example. Unfortunately, the existing hardware simply isn’t powerful enough to deal with the higher resolution. Now imagine that issue extrapolated to an image four times the size of the current benchmark.

While the PS4 is certain to boast significantly more graphical grunt than its predecessor, rendering in 4K resolution is still likely to be a strain on the system, especially when you factor in the usual mix of texture, lighting, and polygonal improvements that are expected alongside a new platform launch. Will the hardware be able to cope with the significant resolution bump?

Sony will no doubt spec the platform appropriately, but is such an emphasis a waste of resources? Earlier in the generation it made a similar push for 3D on the PS3, but while the initiative prompted some good results, the drive seems to have lost its impetus in recent months. What if 4K resolution fails to take off, too? Will the manufacturer be left with a needlessly bloated console capable of running games in a resolution that no one wants?

It looks like we’re not going to have a choice in matter. Sony is betting big on 4K technology and there’s no turning back now. As one of its largest brands, the company will be banking on its next console’s ability to showcase the benefits of the format, and presumably propel television sales. Let’s just hope that the gamble pays off, because the manufacturer really can’t afford to drop another 3D-sized clanger.

Are you interested in 4K resolution? Would you be tempted to upgrade your television if the PS4 took advantage of the format? Let us know in the comments section below.

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User Comments (29)

ShogunRokAdmin

#1

ShogunRok said:

I think 4K has more of a chance than 3D since it isn't as gimmicky and unnecessary. This scenario is reminiscent of people saying HD wasn't necessary, although here the jump in visuals isn't quite as big, of course.

It'll depend on people's reaction to 4K, I suppose. If people can see the difference and it's impressive, I don't see why 4K shouldn't slowly establish itself as the new norm.

Epic

#2

Epic said:

@ShogunRok
Everything about 4k is really amazing there's only 1 problem PRICE the cheapest price of 4kTV now is 20,000 dollars but that may change with time.

ShogunRokAdmin

#3

ShogunRok said:

@Epic Yeah price is a big hurdle, but we have to remember HD TVs were considered horribly overpriced at first too. But you're right - if tech could release at a reasonable price every time then there would be no problem upgrading!

Knux

#5

Knux said:

Good god, I just upgraded to a HDTV a few months ago! I hope Sony knows what they are doing! :O

If the PS4 shoves 4K technology down my throat, then the Wii U might be the only next-gen console I buy anytime soon. Simply because I rather not have to put up with an overpriced console while buying a ridiculously expensive TV (in my opinion, they need to be at least the same price HDTVs are now in order for me to even consider buying one).

I don't normally praise Nintendo, but I think I now know why they decided to go with the regular HDTV route instead of having 4K support for the Wii U. They are more concerned with providing cheaper technology rather than supporting something that hasn't even gone mainstream yet.

I thought Sony learned their lesson after the horrible early years of the PS3. Perhaps I was wrong.

seeafish

#6

seeafish said:

Yes and no. TV technology needs to and will improve and 4K is the next logical evolution. The say that 8K resolutions are the theoretical max that the human eye can perceive so we're not that far from having completely upgraded TVs to the maximum!
The problem lies in development. Dev houses are already spending far too many resources on creating textures for 720p games. Now imagine making 4K textures; the level of detail required will put some serious strain on dev houses to the point of forcing them to expand their team of artists. This adds significant cost which has the negative side effect of making games more risky, thus potentially killing off whole range of games that simply won't make development. Perhaps I'm being a bit bleak, but its how I see things going...
And tbh, the last time I moaned about graphics was when I had a ps1. Since the ps2 I've always been satisfied. Not really sure if this is even needed...

Kayoss

#8

Kayoss said:

PS4 Should able to support 4K and everything below it. Just like when the PS3 was released and it support HD 1080p when the majority of the people have not yet upgraded from standard television to 1080p TV's. Give the consumer the option if they want to upgrade to 4K in the future. As a consumer I dont want to have to buy a different stand alone 4k player when i decide to go with 4K. Similar to what Sony did with 3D. Let it be available when the consumers decided to go with 4K. That way they are not really shoving this down peoples throat.
Look at what happened to Xbox 360. They stayed with DVD format and when PS3 Blu ray took off and was able to be backward compatible with DVDs, the xbox 360 couldnt do anything. Games became bigger and they were forced to put games on multiple DVD's.

Many people said blu ray was un-necessary when it was first announced for the PS3, but now most people who owns a PS3 plays blu-ray movies on their console. This will be the same with 4K. When 4K movies are released, people will want to play it on their PS4.

JayMiller1988

#9

JayMiller1988 said:

Say PS4 comes out in 2014, and the same is true between PS4 and PS5, nearly 10 year leaps in technology, I think it's wise to have a 4K-ready console if you're going for another timeline like that.

Stuffgamer1

#10

Stuffgamer1 said:

It's simple future-proofing, and I'm all for it. Most games probably won't run anywhere NEAR 4K natively, but the machine will be able to run 4K Blu-Rays, and that'll probably help the format quite a bit.

@Knux: The horrible early years of the PS3 were planned for by Sony...working towards the long-term. Same thing they say they're doing for Vita, same thing they'll doubtless do for PS4. It'll be worth it, most likely.

Also, regarding development costs: I have it from a developer friend of mine that more powerful hardware will actually DEcrease the cost of development in some cases, because a lot of time and money is currently being wasted scaling back their projects to outdated hardware. In other words, they're ALREADY making the higher res textures and all, but then they have to figure out how to make cut them back to run on current hardware...a step they could well do without.

Void

#11

Void said:

Unless 4k TVs become affordable enough by 2019-2020, (what I imagine would be a few years prior to the PS5 if they continue to make consoles.) to replace most people's HDTVs, I imagine it would be a waste for them to feature that high of resolution.

jwhyrock

#12

jwhyrock said:

of course higher resolution is necessary. duh. Seemslike a stupid question unless your only frame of reference is a console between 2006-2013.

First off resolutions are always getting better just as the hardware is to support them. Keep in mind with many intelligent consumers already spoiled with relatively inexpensive giant TVs such as 80+ inch DLPs they are not going to settle for smaller screens or stick with a 1080p television for the rest of our lives (myself included). Bigger is absolutely better and if you can add beautiful picture Hell yes.

The high price of the 4k displays will keep out the mainstream consumer and the slow sales coupled with competition and efficient manufacturing will drastically reduce the prices for those of us on a budget.

Don't forget Sony has this stupid decade long lifespan obsession with their consoles which means 4k will be a must at some point in that time frame.

To not future proof the hardware would be idiotic and I will reiterate that I do not believe 4k will be ridiculously priced for very long.

Anyone not in college with a semi decent home theater knows what I'm talking about (and/or PC knowledge).

Some random poster said 3D was a gimmick? lol what bs. 3D is excellent and adds a lot both to movies and gaming. If the movie or game sucks that has nothing to do with the technology.

I have a DLP 3D setup and it is a joy to play on. One thing people screw up a lot is setting it up properly, it takes some research and experimentation to get right.

hydeks

#13

hydeks said:

By the time ps4 roles around, it might be a great idea for the ps4 to have this feature. Also, xbox might have the feature, pushing playstation too :P

moomoo

#14

moomoo said:

Unless if Sony plans on putting out a crazy-expensive system (as in, thousands of dollars for one) then they're not going to really implement 4K in a way where it's a priority. Yeah, I guess it could do it, but considering how expensive it is now to run 4K stuff right now using the highest PC tech, it's pretty far-fetched to honestly believe that Sony could put out a console this year at an affordable price if that was a priority, especially considering they're current economic position and the state of the economy in general.

Basically, there's no chance that the PS4 will actually be able to handle 4K games on its own. It'll be all up to upscaling, but that's about it. Nothing that the system actually does.

NathanUC

#15

NathanUC said:

1080p is becoming far too low of a resolution for modern displays so yes, it is needed for PS4. I've seen a 4k display in action and know just how clear and amazing the picture looks compared to a high end (which I own and use everyday) 1080p Bravia.

I can only imagine what a game like Killzone would look like in 4k 3D. drool

EDIT: There is no doubt in my mind that PS4 will be able to 'handle' 4k resolution without breaking a sweat....

Autobot-69

#17

Autobot-69 said:

Not a good gamble. Anyone that buys a PS4 will need to buy a new 4k TV to enjoy it. How many people will buy an expensive (new technology) TV just to enjoy a PS4 (will take years for movies and everything else to catch up). In my opinion, to release a truly successful console that will sell you have to make it superior than any other console and utilize technology that is currently in most living rooms. Sales of the new console will be weak until the 4k TV is in most living rooms.

devperson

#18

devperson said:

Personally I would just be happy if all games could run natively at 1080p with a good dollop of anti-aliasing and anisotropic filtering.

Zombie_Barioth

#19

Zombie_Barioth said:

I was about to bring up hardware costs, but @Moomoo beat me too it. Beyond that convincing Joe average he needs a 4k HDTV might be a losing battle. It might be a boon to enthusiasts but thats still a rather small pond compared to the mass market, and for many 4k res is something that would make for a cool movie experience but probably not worth the cash to bring into their home.

Besides, I don't think pushing expensive high-end tech is the best idea when your balancing out your budget.

rjejr

#20

rjejr said:

Depends on the cost. Sony went big with blu-ray and it's $600 PS3 to kill HDDVD, and it worked. What would they be killing with 4k?

The Wi U isn't selling well at $299, slightly better at $349. The world isn't ready for another $500 or $600 home console. How well did that $500 24" display sell? Last I saw it was $199 after less than 1 year after release. How's the PSPgo selling? At least the Vita is selling better than that.

The PS3 currently has a blu-ray drive and a large HDD w/ USB, wifi and ethernet. They should spend some money increasing the RAM, GPU and CPU to get it to $399. If they can do 4k for $399 so be it. If not, leave it out.

KALofKRYPTON

#21

KALofKRYPTON said:

There seems to be an assumption here that 4K will be the standard Sony sets for games on PS4. This is probably highly unlikely, but at last, 1080p native games should populate the systems software library with ease. I'd say that 4K will be there to compliment the forthcoming 4K TV sets and their associated media services.

It will likey be a case of PS2's success with DVD and PS3's success with Blu-Ray. PS4 will open the door to a newer standard (4K Blu-Ray probably) should early adopters have the required hardware to utilise it.

If you do, then you have an 'affordable', ready to use, easily network updatable 4K media player bundled inside your new console.

If you don't, don't worry about it, it's there if you have a chance to upgrade your TV to a super-sized 4K beast.

bauckster

#22

bauckster said:

Mmmm...not sure how I feel about this. If the cost is prohibitive, I don't see myself buying a PS4, let alone a 4K television. A lot of it will also depend on the quality of the software being developed. Honestly, I don't see myself buying a next-next gen. console anytime soon. Not when PCs and laptops can do all of that and more (word processing, internet, etc.)

The danger here with the technological race to the top, is that quality and game design are often overlooked or overshadowed by fancy graphics. I like fancy graphics, but they are definitely not the most important element in a game.

jwhyrock

#23

jwhyrock said:

forget games it's about media. movies primarily, but you will see some games at max resolution, albeit not most.

jwhyrock

#25

jwhyrock said:

not likely at this point, but that would be pretty neat. Hustle Kings 4k/3D or the ability to toggle 4k and 3D in game menus (Final Fantasy XIV)

jwhyrock

#28

jwhyrock said:

I saw a article recently when liverpool I think was asked about another wipeout game and they said probably not. I forget where I saw that, but it was only a few days ago.

jwhyrock

#29

jwhyrock said:

oh and I completely agree that the price of the PS4 will be important, but I also think our thinking about how much a console should cost should evolve with the times.

Consoles are now full computers with many features. I can't tolerate having such weak hardware any longer. Consoles are so outdated by today's current hardware standards it's ridiculous and it shows.

I want the high end specs and if Sony will force us to keep the same hardware for a decade they better damn well future proof it.

Side note: if they disable used games I will go Xbox (unless Microsoft does the same thing)

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