This week told us a lot about the technical specifications of Sony's and Microsoft's next-generation consoles. On paper, the Xbox Series X seems undoubtedly more powerful. It's got a higher clocked custom Zen 2 CPU and most importantly it comes with 44% more Compute Units (52 versus 36) compared to the PS5.
In fact, our Usman (who's very familiar with AMD architectures) from the hardware team just did a deep dive analysis and according to him, the real TFLOPs figure for PS5 (which is already almost TFLOPs lower than that of the Xbox Series X) may be even lower in real world scenarios due to the downclocking involved.
And yet, in the latest Kotaku Splitscreen podcast (Episode 222), Jason Schreier, whose sources are usually sound, clearly said he heard from several different developers that while both consoles are undoubtedly impressive, the Xbox Series X isn't actually that more powerful; in fact, some even said PS5 is superior in several ways. As such, Schreier commented during the podcast that Sony dropped the ball hard in terms of communication.
Everybody is now seeing this spec sheet and they see PS5 10.2 TFLOPs and Xbox Series X 12 TFLOPs, but meanwhile, the people that I've been talking to over the past few months, over the past couple of years, who are actually working on the PlayStation 5, have pretty much unanimously all said 'This thing is a beast, it is one of those the coolest pieces of hardware that we've ever seen or used before, There are so many things here that are revolutionary'.
The general consensus is that these things are both extremely powerful and both very similar in a lot of ways, both do different things in really cool ways. These are both extremely impressive pieces of technology. But because of the way Sony has actually presented and marketed this thing, now the narrative is that the Xbox Series X is way more powerful than the PS5. And I think that is such a maybe fatal flaw on Sony's part for this console generation. Maybe it'll be forgotten if the PS5 comes in cheaper or has a killer launch line app, but right now, it's just such a dropping the ball after so many years of smart decisions on Sony's part.
What I'm hearing from the people who are actually working on these things, working on the metal, is that the Xbox Series X is not significantly more powerful than the PS5 despite this teraflops number.
Sony has dropped the ball and there's going to be like weeks and weeks, if not months and months, especially with Corona disrupting everything, of people just talking about how the Xbox Series X is the most powerful console and it's beating the PS5 in every single way. Meanwhile, I'm getting texts and DMs, even today as this was going on, from developers being like 'This is such a shame, the PS5 is so superior in all these other ways that they're not actually able to message right now or can't talk about right now'. I heard from at least three different people in the past couple of hours since the Cerny talk being like 'The PS5 is actually like the more superior piece of hardware in a lot of different ways despite what you're seeing in these paper spec sheets'. And so again, yes, plenty of room to talk about this, for all these companies to keep messaging and showing games. But I do think that Sony has really dropped the ball so far from what we've seen.
Where is the truth, then? We do know the PS5's SSD is much faster, potentially twice as much as that of the Xbox Series X, but there's the chance it may only truly be used in first-party titles to its fullest potential. Sony also touted its Tempest 3D audio engine as a revolutionary technology that can handle hundreds of simultaneous objects at once, but Dolby Laboratories clarified today that Dolby Atmos can potentially do the same, though that may not always be the best option when developing a game.
As the original proverb goes: 'the proof of the pudding is in the eating'. That is to say, the proof of each console's strengths will be in the games they can produce, so we'll have to wait for those to appear to be able to make a real assessment.