Frame rate is the priority for Xbox Scarlett not graphical fidelity says Phil Spencer

Written by Neil Soutter on Tue, Aug 13, 2019 5:05 PM

The unthinkable is happening. Xbox head honcho Phil Spencer has explained how the focus for its next-generation Xbox Scarlett console will be in pushing higher frame rates rather than graphical fidelity.

Consoles have long been hamstrung by the competing ideals of visual excellence and crippling frame rates. Above and beyond everything, publishers want their games looking great in screenshots in trailers, frame rates be damned. Even now, the priority is often on cranking out the best possible visuals in, say, Horizon: Zero Dawn, even if this means capping the frame rate at 30 frames per second.

Speaking to Gamespot, Spencer said “I think the area that we really want to focus on next generation is frame rate and playability of the games. Ensuring that the games load incredibly fast, ensuring that the game is running at the highest frame rate possible.” Well thank the lord. It’s not 144Hz but it’s a damned sight better than priority photorealistic visuals at juddery frame rates.

“We’re also the Windows company, so we see the work that goes on PC and the work that developers are doing. People love 60 frames-per-second games, so getting games to run at 4K/60 I think will be a real design goal for us.”

The good news here, potentially, is those of you fearing the generational leap in PC system specs may have less to fear. If the console market’s top priority is 4K/60 FPS with a smaller leap in visual fidelity, it should mean low and mid-range PC gamers should be able to comfortably keep playing at 1080p/60FPS for a good while yet.

In fact, talking of the visuals, it sounds as if Spencer and his team at Xbox are hoping to rely on delivering native 4K across the board in terms of providing a noticeable visual improvement. “The thing that’s interesting is, this generation, we’ve really focused on 4K visuals and how we bring both movies through 4K Blu-ray and video streaming, and with Xbox One X allowing games to run at 4K, visuals will make really strong visual enhancements next generation,” continued Spencer.

From a raw processing angle, Microsoft claimed at E3 2019 that Xbox Scarlett will be around four times as powerful as the Xbox One X. Just like the PS5, 8K was being bandied about although we absolutely do not think this is a priority from a gaming perspective. 4 times the power should be plenty of grunt to deliver all of the biggest titles today at 4K/60, with some performance headroom to spare in order to deliver the usual generation visual enhancements.

Judging from an Up For Debate we had a while back though, a fair few of you won't be too pleased. We asked whether you thought visual fidelity, resolution, or frame rate should be the priority next-gen and the overwhelming majority opted for enhanced graphical detail.

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14:01 Aug-14-2019

Why not both??

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07:16 Aug-14-2019

So no more cinematic experiences?

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05:48 Aug-14-2019

as long as I never see a 24fps game ever again, I'm good

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05:43 Aug-14-2019

finally the console people having some sense what really the priorities are.

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00:41 Aug-14-2019

Im perfectly fine with 1080p for gaming 4k is a must movies.

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07:39 Aug-14-2019

yup 1080p for gaming is more than sufficient i play at 60fps a 144fps screen is my next purchase hopefully 32:9 ratio but for movies to be honest I've tested out dolby vision and it really is epic sure 4k is crisp but the colour is all i te

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07:42 Aug-14-2019

tend to notice when i'm watching a movie. Oled screens and true HDR with DOLBY VISION is the gold standard. Mircro Leds will be the solution for gamers when they drop down in size.

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21:59 Aug-13-2019

This isnt something that is up to them, best they can do is do it for their own games. Its easier to sell a graphically impressive gane than a 60fps one.

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22:30 Aug-13-2019

It is though pretty much all up to them if they want it to be. Xbox is their platform. If they specify the minimal that needs to be achieved to be featured on the platform, the devs developing on it don't really have much say on it. They're pretty much left with do or leave, and the latter is fairly unlikely.

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09:19 Aug-14-2019

basically this. They already can reject any game which doesn't pass their certification, all they would need to do is tighten up the regulations.

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12:55 Aug-14-2019

But then they wont have many games to sell on their platform,and without games they won't be able to sell their consoles

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12:55 Aug-14-2019

in short they'd be shooting themselves in the foot

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13:54 Aug-14-2019

You have Xbox, PS and PC. And Nintendo, but former are the big three. No publisher is going to disregard Xbox because that's a hell of a lot of potential profit to be had. Especially not with Xboxs promises with this next gen platform.

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14:23 Aug-14-2019

They already have plenty of certification rules in place and it doesn't seem to be stopping many devs. This could just be another rule

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21:48 Aug-13-2019

As long as they maintain the 60 fps as a standard for all games, its good enough for me for a console. I do not expect more than that because not many tvs with hdmi 2.1 to output hfr and the ones available are expensive.

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21:13 Aug-13-2019

Well, let's see if they can actually deliver on it. they said 1080p/60 for the current gen, and we all know how that went...

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20:16 Aug-13-2019

FPS vs resolution really depends on what you play. Fast paced games, competitive games,... will benefit from high FPS a lot. But some genres, like RPG really don't, yes it is smoother, but there is no competitive advantage to it and in games like Witcher 3, where you have that amazing scenery, you really can benefit from bigger and higher resolution display and 60hz will be plenty for that game.

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20:19 Aug-13-2019

Of course, if money is there, you could get both. But when it comes to choice, I would really base it on what you play. There are a lot of games which don't really benefit that much, like Divinity: Original Sin 2 is just another example. So it just is thing of a choice. I am all for getting higher refresh rate monitor and using FreeSync for games which won't hit FPS target.

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20:21 Aug-13-2019

Though I wouldn't mind consoles pushing high refresh rate more, since they could make it bit more of focus point for developers of some games, since there are games that you need to make sacrifices to get to 144FPS for example. And that would focus developers to get better at optimizing to make higher FPS easier to reach, without sacrificing much on quality. But we will have to see what we get.

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19:28 Aug-13-2019

If you don't upgrade your 1080p montor, you don't need beefy hardware to run in 4k rollsafe meme

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19:18 Aug-13-2019

Higher resolution like 4K and 1440p are good for screenshots. During gameplay smooth frame rate is necessary to really enjoy the game at 1080p at med to high.

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18:33 Aug-13-2019

Disappointing,though i doubt microsoft will really be able to dictate to developers at what resolution and framerate their games should run at

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17:40 Aug-13-2019

That's great, now we just need you to act on it too.
In other words, I'll believe it when I see it.

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17:40 Aug-13-2019

well... it really depends on where the tv´s are going (keeps pushing resolutions or start making 60+fps panels). Chicken and egg problem here.

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18:35 Aug-13-2019

Well, like it says on the article, they are targeting 4K/60. I think higher than 60 for console gaming is a long way off. By then, every tv would be 120, which a lot already are.

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19:28 Aug-13-2019

not as many are true 120fps. the smooth motion crap is interpolation of frames. my oled lg is.

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21:45 Aug-13-2019

I dont think you can interpolate more frames than what the panel can output. Maybe older tvs use this kind of trick? Nowadays, almost all tvs would interpolate up to its actual refresh rate. No expert but most non-budget TVs are true 120.

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05:30 Aug-15-2019

No they don't. You are missing how interpolation works. It's actually refresh rate is 60 but the backlight strobes to "create" the higher frame rate. If you look it up, you will understand what I'm talking about. Unless it's a 240, which some are then true 120hz, but most like the 120s are straight up 60hz screens.

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08:21 Aug-15-2019

Like I said, I think older 60hz TVs use what you are referring to to simulate 120. But a vast majority of TVs today are real 120, and can interpolate lower fps to real 60 and 120 fps. Or, for gamers, actually let you game at higher than 60fps w/o interpolation.

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08:23 Aug-15-2019

Pls try and look up mid-tier TVs and see if they are real 120 or not. Some good ones are still 60 (like TCL 6 series). But most are 120. And all high end are as well. Happy to be proven wrong if I am :)

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08:37 Aug-15-2019

I read up on that technique you mentioned. I think it is still being used today as a way to smooth fast moving content. It is typically an option you can enable as an alternative or complementary to motion interpolation.
Its available for both 60 and 120 TVs.

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19:35 Aug-13-2019

Well, TVs are miles ahead with techniques that aren't meant to be used for games. Interpolating frames. I'm not sure how this exactly works, but it does up the framerate by a lot. Really nice in movies that are captured at a higher framerate (like the hobbit) or video footage on youtube (4k60 for example). It does add excessive input lag, thus not usable for games.
PC monitors take the lead for this stuff I think.

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21:52 Aug-13-2019

Most are unusable for gaming. But some samsung tvs add a mere 10-20ms lag to interpolate up to 120fps. They have freesync as well :)

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17:23 Aug-13-2019

4K/60fps is inferior to 2K/100fps

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17:35 Aug-13-2019

Amen if they do 1440p 144FPS im in. Probably a ps5 for the exclusives i mean microsoft is bringing everything to windows now right? so playstation makes sense for the exclusives hopefully they prioritaze high fps instead of resolution too or atleast give the option to pick between.

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19:30 Aug-13-2019

but how many tvs show anything over 60 true fps?
for the majority, 100 fps isnt gonna do a thing for them when their tv only shows 60 fps.

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19:38 Aug-13-2019

Interpolating my friend. It's glorious for movies with cinematic scenes. I like how people get sick from watching 48fps movies like the hobbit. I get sick from watching 24fps movies where they are filming in a panorama. It stutters so hard, it hurts my eyes, even with the natural blur.
Oh and user interface animations at 100fps is probably really nice compared to 60 (which already is nice). I can't say from experience though.

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21:13 Aug-13-2019

interpolating frame rate isnt the same as refresh rate. when you connect one of those tvs to a pc, they will show you what its true refresh is. interpolating frames creates huge amounts of lag. if your pc is connected to a tv and you have it pushing 100fps, you are still missing out on frames and the interpolation is covering up the tearing. your tv will only display 60 fps. interpolation is a post process effect.
the stutter is the 2:3 pulldown and nothing to do with 24fps. its actually the tv trying to break down 24 fps between 60hz. that means each odd frame is displayed 2x and every even frame is displayed 3x. if it was a true 120hz tv, then it would be able to break down 24 fps more easily.

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19:49 Aug-13-2019

Hell no im not using a tv to play a game the input lag even on the best TV's is much higher. I would hook it up to my monitor of course there are 120Hz TV's but their input lag is really high the whole point of high refresh rate is to reduce input lag. For TV's 60Hz is fine i still want the option of 120 or 144.

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22:35 Aug-13-2019

A lot of TVs have 120 panels.
BUT, hdmi 2.1 is very new. So 4k input is capped at 60. You can still game at 1440p/1080p at 120 though. This is true for majority of non-budget 4k TVs. I would say a console doing 4k/120 will likely happen after most TVs start supporting hdmi 2.1.

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13:51 Aug-14-2019

im still waiting for 1440p 240hz...

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