Sony (SNE) is set to unveil the PlayStation 4 at a New York event at 6 p.m. ET, and rumors about the video game console are flying furiously. Redesigned controllers with touch sensors. Cloud gaming. Stereoscopic 3D gaming in full 1080p HD. 4KTV support. A new IPTV service. Deeper online gaming experiences. Better motion controls. Eye-tracking. It’s all expected to be in there.
But regardless of what actually pans out and what doesn’t, one thing about this upcoming generation of consoles has become clear: It’s not all about graphics anymore.
In the past, each new video game console represented a major leap in graphical performance. Graphics had been such a huge selling point, Nintendo even wrote that right into the name of its Nintendo 64 game console (“64” represented the console’s 64-bit graphics).
Today, the incremental improvements in graphics processing no longer resonate with the average gamer. Sure, games can now render a ludicrous number of on-screen elements at a rock-solid frame rate, but those are capabilities mostly appreciated by the hardcore audience. It’s not the same awe-inspiring experience that it was 20 years ago.
Nintendo has been downplaying the importance of graphics this since the mid-2000s, emphasizing innovative game play over the quality of the images. The company found great success along the way with the Wii and DS systems.