What Do the Xbox One and PS4 Mean For MMOs?

As the computational power of consoles improves, will they become a viable platform for MMOs?

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With
less than a month to go before both the Xbox One and
PlayStation 4 finally make their way into the greedy little hands of
gamers and
eBay moguls everywhere, it’s time to face the possibility of
a new generation
of MMO players. We’ve had various console MMO offerings since
early 2001 when Phantasy
Star Online
was released for
the Dreamcast, but they’ve been few and far between since.
They also haven’t
been the most well received games in the world either. This style of
game has
long been the domain of primarily the PC, but a new day may be dawning. 

Next
month, both the Xbox One and PS4 will be
released
and from a pure hardware perspective, it appears that they’re
both capable of
handling the requirements of today’s MMO. Before we take a
closer look at a few
system requirements by a variety of today’s popular MMOs,
let’s take a peek
under the hood of the upcoming new consoles.

Xbox
One Basics specs

style="">CPU:
8 core
(1.75GHz)

GPU:
AMD
Radeon w/786 shaders (theoretical processing power - 1.13 trillion
floating-point operations per second)

Memory:
8GB
(GDDR3)

Hard Drive
Storage
:
500 GB 

PS4
Basic Specs

style="">CPU:
8 core
(speed unknown - some sources say 1.6 GHz)

GPU:
AMD
Radeon w/1152 shaders (theoretical processing power - 1.84 trillion
floating-point operations per second)

Memory:
8GB
(GDDR5)

Hard Drive
Storage
:
500 GB

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While
some of the system specs aren’t exact (they haven’t
been officially announced yet), we can see that both consoles are set
to
deliver a powerful gamer experience. As we’ve seen in the
past, raw power alone
doesn’t mean anything if a development team can’t
squeeze all that power out of
the console they’re working with. During the life cycle of
the PS3, it was
expected to blow the Xbox 360 away in graphical prowess from the moment
it
launched, and yet for years we saw no indication this was the case. At
best,
the graphical differences between game versions were remote. 

At
initial glance, it appears the new systems would be
able to handle modern MMO titles with little to no modifying ( style="">NOTE
obviously,
this is a comment on the
game system requirements, not the coding that would be required to port
a game
to an entirely new platform
).
Here are the recommended specs for three
popular MMO titles (the Guild
Wars 2

specs listed are the minimum requirements since the company does not
include
the recommended specs in their FAQ):

Final
Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn

style="">CPU:
Intel
Core 2 Duo (3 GHz)

Memory:
4GB

Graphics:
NVIDIA GeForce 8800 / ATI Radeon HD 4770 or higher

Guild
Wars 2

style="">CPU:
Core 2
Duo (2 GHz)

Memory:
2GB

Graphics:
NVIDIA GeForce 7800 / ATI Radeon HD 3000 or higher

Neverwinter

style="">CPU:
Intel
Core 2 Duo (2.8 GHz)

Memory:
2GB

Graphics:
NVIDIA GeForce 8800 / ATI Radeon HD 2990GT or higherz

As
you can see, the new consoles meet most of each game’s
requirements. The only apparent problem lies with the estimated console
CPU
speeds. Since each game only require a 2-core CPU, it would still be
possible
to get each title running smoothly, depending on how much each title
was
programmed to take full advantage of multi-core CPUs. 

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When
it comes to graphical prowess and required memory,
the new consoles would have no problems. The GPU of both the Xbox One
and the
PS4 are both rated to handle over one trillion process calculations
(the above
mentioned floating-point operations) while the video cards recommended
for each
games lists their calculation power in the billions, rather than a
trillion. In
other words, the graphic speed of the new systems should prove no
obstacle to
the MMOs of today and, as we’re going to see with such titles
as Elder Scrolls
Online, the future. 

There
is one final piece of the MMO puzzle that consoles
have always struggled with though and even with Elder Scrolls Online, I
fail to
see how this is going to be satisfactorily resolved – the
keyboard. Is it an
old and antiquated form of input? Perhaps, but even so, it’s
still the most
useful form of input for myself and many other gamers like me. I
realize how
one solution would be to force the use of voice chat, but I
can’t stress how
much I oppose this. I’m the type of player that
“grew up” needing to type
during such games as EverQuest and I don’t want to chat with
people over a
headset when I’m trying to play a game. 

Am
I crazy? That’s an entirely different
conversation we may have one day. Am I old and cranky? That’s
normally a given,
but until developers come up with a way to make player communication
easy
without the use of a keyboard or forcing voice chat, I don’t
see console MMOs
being anything more than a continued experiment. I certainly
don’t ever see
them being as popular as their PC brethren. What do you think about the
future
of console MMOs? Let me know in the comments or href="https://twitter.com/Dalmarus">hit me up on
Twitter!

 


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