Is 4K Really That Big Of A Deal?

Is 4K Really That Big Of A Deal

Is 4K really that big of a deal? If you’re like me, you might’ve asked yourself that question the past few months given that it seems to be one of the bigger focuses in the gaming industry or at least for the PS4 and Xbox One. But does 4K really matter or mean much in the grand scheme of things? In my opinion, not really. Sure it sounds good in sound bites or press releases, but to the average person or even average gamer, it doesn’t seem that important.

Admittedly I am not an expert on graphical fidelity or anything, but if you were to show me a new game at 1080p HD and the same game at 4K, I’d be hard pressed to tell you which is which. The same thing is true for newer games which receive HD remasters. Unless it’s glaringly obvious like taking a 2D pixel game and making it 3D and HD, then it’s pretty hard for me to distinguish between them. I think this is true for most people as well.

So then why is the industry pushing 4K so heavily then? That’s a good question. But I guess it’s because it sounds good in interviews and PR. It’s a nice talking point. It sounds impressive. It’s kind of like Sega touting blast processing back in the day which by their own admission, didn’t really mean much. The games might look slightly better, and that’s great and all, but how does 4K improve the gameplay, you know, the reason for playing games in the first place? If you just wanted to look at something that looks nice, you could watch a movie or visit an art museum.  Games are interactive media and as such there needs to be more than just a “shiny coat of paint.”

One thing that has been cited about 4K in console gaming is that it kind of bridges the gap with PC gaming. Jesse Rapczak from Studio Wildcard (Ark: Survival Evolved) commented on this and said, “It’s amazing. It’s basically like Epic settings on PC.” So while this cool and all because it means you don’t necessarily have to spend $1,000+ on a gaming PC for the same kind of experience, what if you already have a gaming PC? Then there’s little reason for you to spend $400-500 on a console that wants to try to imitate a PC. So I guess these systems are aimed at the audience that eschews PC gaming and prefers console gaming, but wants to have the same kind of graphics that PC games are capable of.

Mike Ybarra, Xbox director of program management had this to say regarding 4K:

“I always say to my game teams, ‘Look, if you provide Dolby Atmos spatial audio, high-dynamic range, 8-million pixels on the screen, people will lose track of time because they’ll be having so much fun.’ That immersion is really what we’re after. When we created this box it was really about immersion more than anything else we wanted to do. I mean, you played Forza Horizon 3 on Windows at 4K, and we saw those images, and those things are breathtaking. When we set out, we started talking about these effects and how they impacted us. That’s immersion; it is part of the magic of the entertainment industry that we’re in.”

So it seems like those in the industry consider 4K to be more immersive, but I tend to disagree with this line of thought. While I haven’t played anything at 4K yet, I seem to recall the same things being claimed about 1080p HD years ago too. I can’t speak for everyone obviously, but for me, immersion in games isn’t based on their graphics, but rather their gameplay and story. One of the most immersive experiences in gaming I ever had was playing Final Fantasy IV on the SNES back in the day. That is not a 4K game, it’s not even a 720p HD game, let alone 1080p. But that didn’t matter. Why? Because graphics are not what makes something immersive or not immersive, in my opinion.

Thus, in my opinion 4K is a marketing buzzword and will help Sony and Microsoft squeeze another year or two out of their systems before they will eventually replace them with newer ones with whatever buzzword or marketing phrase comes after 4K. I have no problems with Sony or Microsoft doing so, in fact, more power to them. I’ve played games on their systems numerous times and have owned various systems from them, so I’m not trying to take shots at them. I just don’t think 4K is that big of a deal, but what do you think? Is 4K really that big of a deal?

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Images: PlayStation & Business Insider

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