Game Dev Claims PS4 Is More Powerful, But Microsoft Pushes Back

Game Dev Claims PS4 Is More Powerful, But Microsoft Pushes Back

The next-gen console war is getting more and more entertaining every day. As developers and executives publicly argue about the differences between the upcoming PlayStation 4 and Xbox One, it’s time to take out the popcorn and enjoy it.

Over the weekend, a curious thing happened: one game developer claimed a huge performance disparity between the upcoming PlayStation 4 and Xbox One. Adrian Chmielarz, who used to work at the studio People Can Fly (Bulletstorm), pointed to a significant speed difference favouring the PS4: 50%, he said.

Microsoft executives were quick to shut this down. Microsoft spokesman Larry “Major Nelson” Hryb and director of product planning Albert Penello have been denying Chmielarz’s claims on Reddit and NeoGAF, telling message board viewers that no, the disparity really isn’t that wide. On Twitter yesterday, Penello echoed those comments — “[Performance] differences are greatly overstated,” he said.

I usually tune out when people talk hardware specs and performance — these systems live or die based on software, not statistics — but this is fascinating. It’s unusual — and totally refreshing! — to see executives and developers going at it on the web like this. Isn’t next-gen exciting?

Let’s break things down. On Saturday, Chmielarz elaborated on his Twitter remarks, posting about the speed differences on NeoGAF:

Here I am. So…

1. I am not doing a damage control, but I do want to clarify one thing. But first, yes, devs I know — and as someone has shown it before in this thread, some other devs already talked about it too — claim that there’s 50% speed difference WHEN DEVELOPING in cross-gen/next-gen PS4/XO games. So there we are, I said it and I stand by it. Notice: WHEN DEVELOPING. It’ll become clear in a second.

2. Will this change in the future? Will devs discover some tricks to narrow the gap? Will stuff like XO cloud computing help? Hell if I know. Uhm, maybe? I know that devs — well, most of them — will do whatever they can do get you the best games possible. You’re going to see a lot of multiplatform games this next gen, just as you’ve seen them in this gen, so it’s in studios’ best interest that there’s no clear advantage in one version over the other.

3. Does it mean studios will cripple PS4 versions to match XO ones? Not really, do not underestimate the devs. Even if this happens, you will not know that and that’s ok. You’ve never seen most games in their most powerful form anyway (when we work on them on our ninja dev PCs in 1080p 120fps with all the antialiasings and stuff turned on for shits and giggles). But most of the time devs have a target and they meet this target. If it’s a multiplatform game, it’s designed with this in mind from the start. So maybe it’s not maxing out one console while going 100% on the other. Maybe it’s 100% on both, but they take extra time for super-extra optimizations on the weaker hardware to make sure things look the same as on the more powerful platform. Etc. etc.

4. So what is that “one thing” I want to clarify, that some people may consider “damage control”, but really is just an explanation. Someone mentioned Titanfall, which looks money and enjoys a great hype. Exactly. A great dev will make a great game no matter what’s the hardware. Current gen CoDs looks great and it’s 60 fps, on both platforms (well, and PC :). To most devs that is just impossible to achieve. And yet…

Think about it this way. X360 is faster than PS3. Not just easier to program on, it’s faster overall (although PS is faster/better in SOME areas). And yet no exclusive on X360 looks like The Last of Us. Halo 4 looks great. Gears blew my mind in 2006. And still, the best looking AAA game of this generation belongs to the supposedly weaker platform.

So if you think that the war is over because PS4 is 50% faster TODAY, then you’re delusional. This is far from over, and will probably never be over, at least not this upcoming gen.

Penello — a frequent NeoGAF poster — has been talking about this quite a bit for the past few days. One of his more interesting posts came just this morning:

1. Personally, I’ve seen both systems and games live at E3, Gamescom, and PAX. Played a little bit of PS4 games at PAX. There are great looking games on both systems. Ryse looks great, Forza is fantastic. I think Killzone looks awesome, and honestly have not been impressed with DriveClub (although it came a LONG way since E3). I really would like to see Infamous in person, but it hasn’t been shown that I’ve seen. However, any difference between those games is subjective of course and subject to viewer bias, but looking at both systems it’s hard to substantiate any claims around 40% – 50%

2. We’re in the final stages of game and SW development now. We’re working closely with 3rd parties as we approach launch. Reports we’re hearing back from developers consistently are confirming that cross-plat games are running the same on both platforms.

I believe there is a point back near E3 where developers would have said their games were running better on PS4. I think Marc Whitten made the point that we’d just completed some driver work about a month ago just before Gamescom. And look at the frame-rate improvements in DR3 between Gamescom and PAX. We’re making huge strides in our SW stability, and again, we have customised and balanced the system to reduce bottlenecks and optimise performance, in ways that aren’t seen in the published specs.

As to the follow-up questions; I posted earlier I’m working with the engineers directly who I think (and you guys think) will be more credible than I am. I did say that I went to them for some supporting points which I posted here – so at this point it’s probably best to let them speak on it. I’m not sure when, but more detail will show up.

It’s late, and it’s clear I’m doing more harm then good at this point. So best to let this rest from my seat and get back to you guys with the most credible source.

And the console war wages on. Which system is more powerful? Lord knows I don’t care, and unless you’re making games for one of these platforms, you probably shouldn’t care either: the system worth your money will be the one with the games and features you want most.

Of course, if multi-platform games wind up performing better on PS4 than they do on Xbox One, that will be something to consider, and it’ll be a subject we discuss quite a bit over the next few months and years. But that’s not something we’ll really know until both consoles are in our living rooms. For now, all we can really do is sit back and enjoy the battles of rhetoric. Console wars are so much fun, aren’t they?


  • Déjà vu all over again. Sony and a lot of devs came out punching with the PS3 and the power of the cell blah blah. In the end the Xbox trumped the PS3 with multi plat titles. Yes Sony’s first party games looked good but I still found a number of first party MS titles looked and played a helluva lot better.

    I’ll be grabbing both systems come November regardless. The spec wars are nothing more than a pissing contest. It all comes down to what the devs can do with a limited tool box for the next 10 years.

    • Amen to CylonLogicBomb

      You are the voice of reason in a world of cynical jerks! couldn’t agree with your wording anymore than that 🙂

      • Both platforms can output 1080p, but the number of titles rendered at that resolution on either platform are microscopic (something like 2 on Xbox and 5-6 on PS3).

        • It is, there are perfectly valid reasons why despite the PS3 being marginally more powerful multiplats looked much the same, mostly revolving around the PS3’s bizarre cell architecture and general difficulty to create games for. They both ran games for the most part in 720p.

          CylonLogicBomb is still an being disingenuous in comparing this launch to the last one though, the consoles have a similar architecture this time around and the PS4 is quite honestly notably superior from a spec perspective, how that translates in terms of what we’ll is still up in the air though.

      • 360 games can only render in 720p and the 360 upscales that content to 1080p. It is rendered natively at 720, but when it comes to your TV, the signal is 1080p.

        The PS3 _can_ render in 1080p natively and output to 1080p to your TV, however no games on the PS3 have done that because of the obvious constraints at rendering at that high resolution. 720p games can but not always scaled to 1080p on the PS3.

        In the end, they are both the same.

      • Ummm dude. All (with the exception of very very few) current console games are either 720P or sub 720P. Both consoles will upscale to 1080P through video output settings as selected by the user. A tip for the future before embarrassing yourself online; check your facts.

          • I was replying to StickMan actually…Again another redundant observation. I never entertained the fact that the PS3 can render in 1080P as it would cripple performance in games. Statements like that only reinforce the arguments about which hardware might be technically better on paper but in the real world will never be utilised for obvious reasons…

          • Unfortunately it is not an observation. It is a fact and so is the case in ps4 and x1. We all know hardware wise ps4 is better but it is the execution in the end that matters.

            Like this gen, look at what ps3 can achieve with uncharted and last of us. Being an ps3 exclusive they were able to utilise the full potential of ps3 but every multiplat are built on 360 are ported over instead.

            Next gen we should be able to see which platform is better since the architecture will be the same and it is just matter of hardware.

            Im sure most of us have both console by now and know what I mean.

            True it might look good on paper but time will tell.

          • Naughty Dog make great cutscenes but the actual game engine graphics are underwhelming. Not to mention marred by chuggy frame rates and sloppy controls.

          • Uh oh…. Don’t dis the messiah of Sony fanboydom… Naughty Dog….

            Oh god they’re here…..

            /runs from pitchfork and burning torch mob

          • True that there are still flaws in the game. No game is perfect but my point is, 360 can never achieve that result no matter how hard they try due to hardware capability and that is precisely what I’m talking about.

            It might not matter to you what the hardware are but you can never deny what a better hardware could achieve.

          • Wow listen to all this dribble. The closest game to running 1080 NATIVELY is gt5 but that’s still only 1280×1080 so still no full HD. Don’t go telling me about all these indie games because my left testicle could run them at 1080p. Do some research ffs

    • yep, I had both and I found most games ran MUCH better on xBox too; it was definitely my preferred system. There are plenty of game sites with direct side-by-side comparisons to confirm it too.

      I think this time it might be the other way around!
      I’d like both, but I’ll probably only get an xBone later, if it doesn’t disappoint.

    • It was really annoying how games could never take full advantage of the PS3 because all games had to be scaled back to be able to work on 360.

  • I don’t know about 50%, but haven’t we known for a while that the PS4 is bit more powerful due to the hardware specs?

    • I was of the understanding that the difference was in the RAM… PS4 uses a faster RAM.
      They have the same types of chips, the same sizes of hard drives and the same amount of RAM.

      I don’t know what difference that would make, although it would probably mean the PS4 can do more calculations in the same time as an Xbone.

      • My understanding is that while the PS4’s GDDR5 RAM is much faster than the XBone’s DDR3 RAM, MS have mitigated that with stuff like an ESRAM cache. End result being the difference in RAM speed is pretty much negligible. But the trade off there is that there’s only a fixed amount of space to fit all this stuff into. So where MS have had to sacrifice some of that space to speed up the RAM, Sony were able to use it for extra compute units, giving them an advantage in GPU power.

        At least that’s my understanding from reading this:

        Note that article is a few months old now, though.

      • The difference was in everything. RAM, CPU and GPU. PS4 will probably have a slightly better texture if devs do it properly instead of porting X1 games to PS4 and bump up the setting like how it is currently done this gen.

        • Incorret.

          DDR5 has no advantage, it is faster yess but only slighty and for this its latency is exceedingly high compared to regular DDR3 which offsets more than it gains in most situations.

          Microsoft have since tweaked the CPU TWICE, increasing the clock speed to now have a distinct advantage over that of the PS4. They had it so under clocked so as to avoid another RROD with heating as such and pushed it as far as they are willing to let it go now.

          The only place the ps4 flat out wins is GPU, in that sense it has the easily superior specs.

          What this means is, just as it is with current gen some games will use the strength of one machine and as such it will perform better on it than the competition.

          If you factor in the cloud games and the like become possible on XBO that aren’t of PS4 (Such as titanfall, which use a great deal of cloud computing ). So in the real world its just another rematch of this gen, multiplat will run better on whoever is selling more consoles (because that will take lead development) and that version will be slightly better tuned, while exclusives will tailor each game to the strengths of its particular system.

          The difference this muppet is harping on about is close to 360/ and a wii.

    • @ thom
      Well yes technically it is, but no where near hell on earth is it in the vicinity of even 25%, let alone 50.

      The Ps4 has DDR5, which gives almost no actual OVERALL improvement, it excells in one area and is has a much higher latency because of it, the ps3 also has the better GPU.

      However the XBO has a better CPU and, I’d wager, significant offload into the cloud for most User interface related stuff which will drive down the base resources needed to just “run”. Much like an ordinary operating system.

      Either way both machines will have games that are uniquely suited to there setup and as such perform better than the other. The massive twit talking about 50% is just flat out lying its a ps3 vs 360 rematch.

      • The fact that neither of you can get your specs right illustrate your ignorance. DDR5 does not exist (yet). It is GDDR5. Moreover, the PS4 has a better CPU with way more shader cores, but trolls will make up any point to seem like they are right. PS4 is a better console, and all these speculations will be laid to rest when both systems are available.

        November cannot come soon enough!

  • I haven’t seen any launch title that looks like its coming anywhere near pushing the limits of either system so it’s kind of a moot point IMO (except maybe Dying Light… maybe).

  • Meh. Buying the system I want for its controller, environment and direction the company is taking it.

    Not how many gigawanks per second it can perform.

    • Then which would you prefer?

      A system that is slowly becoming your foxtel machine or a system that stays as a gaming machine?

      • I’ve got the PS4 preordered and paid for but which of the two was more powerful wasn’t even a consideration.

        • Same here. It doesn’t matter which one perform better I just choose based on their launch title. I got both preordered but wont get PS4 until next year 🙁 Second shipment

      • Meh… It still plays games just fine, the PS4 isn’t some quantum leap in technology. I’ve never got the whole “I’m angry because it does other things and plays games (most likely the same games as its competitor)”

      • So Sony has no media capability whatsoever on the PS4 then, just games? Bullshit. They are both games consoles with media stuff, its just marketed differently (which apparently works on some people). If you believe that the PS4 is somehow a magically pure gaming machine you really need to pull your head out of your ass.

  • Seriously, either way the games on the console YOU choose will be awesome. Who gives a rats toss if the shadows on one system are slightly sharper. Argh!

    I’m getting a PS4 because of Infamous, Kill Zone, Gran Turismo and everything Naughty Dog just to name a few, not because it’s specs say it’s more powerful.

    To all those XBOX fans, would you seriously give up all your favourite games because the new Xbox is less powerful than the PS4?

  • All I care about is how games will run on my PS4. I couldn’t give two flying hoots about the Xbone’s performance. Developers; make my gaming experience on the PS4 as awesome as possible and while you’re at it, do the same for Xbone owners.

    Can’t we have at least one generation where gamers aren’t bickering over which system’s better and instead only focusing on in-game experiences. I’m living in a dreamworld again

  • I think this is case in point about the people on the internet…. I don’t think we’ve had a single generation of consoles where the hardware was so similar before…..
    – Same instruction set [AMD_64]
    – Same CPU microarchitecture [Jaguar 8-core APU]
    – Same disc media [BD-ROM]
    – Same amount of memory [8GB unified]
    – Same stock hard drive

    Yes, there are hardware differences still.
    – Yes, the PS4 has a slightly higher clocked CPU
    – Yes, the PS4 has more compute units available
    – Yes, the PS4 has more memory bandwidth with DDR5 memory

    But ultimately, is this actually going to have any affect on the actual GAMES which we will play?
    One of two things will happen….
    1) Multi-platform games will be developed to the lowest-common-denominator to simply run well on both systems anyway. Maybe some platform specific optimisations which will provide improvements completely invisible to anyone except those running both consoles next to each other [ie: no one, except digital foundry users].
    2) Games will be exclusive, and will run comparatively similar graphical techniques but will still have no grounds for direct comparison anyway, thus the argument is pointless as only those with a particular console can play the game. There’s no choice available.

    The main performance gains will be how efficient the kernel and underlying software is on the PS4 and XBone. How well optimised the respective SDKs are for each platform. But again, ultimately is anyone actually going to notice any difference? [yes, people will notice by the constant reminder by people who want to show them]. More importantly, are any minor differences in performance going to have any noticeable impact on gameplay between the two systems?

    It illustrates in glorious detail the 12-year-old-mentality dick waving that will always occur in tech communities. People will [usually] only have one choice of which device they purchase, and ultimately will want to reinforce their own choice by trying to find ways to prove it to everyone else.

    No matter what, people will ALWAYS find a way to complain/battle about something on the internet.

  • There will be good games on both systems, neither of them can touch a PC, and both combined will never come near the numbers of the Wii.

    • I touch my PC. PCs are awesome. It’s a super sweet girlfriend magnet liquid cooled gaming rig with two nVidia Titans and I sit infront of it pants down while playing free civ on a custom version of slackware. I modified the kernel to print out a big ascii dick with two massive balls on boot displayed in deju vu sans mono 16 point.

  • Im no expert on tech, but looking at the specs one paper it certainly looks like the PS4 has a big advantage. Unlike the PS3 and 360 that we too different to really compare on paper, the PS4 and XB1 use basically the same gear so it makes it easy to compare.

    The PS4 has faster RAM, significantly faster CPU clock speed and faster GPU. Now that trifecta on PC would give a machine significant leg up in performance. I don’t see how it wouldn’t on a console. Especially in five years when they are being pushed to their limits.

  • so you played both consoles hey? did you actually see it in the flesh. because all the gamers that reviewed COD ghosts and BF4 ect said you were playing on a dev kit PC with emulation on both systems? so which one is it?

  • MS damage control.

    Fact is I think everyone who is not ‘hardcore’ won’t notice and won’t care. The consoles are close enough for the mass market.

Show more comments

Comments are closed.

Log in to comment on this story!