After months of anticipation, Sony and Microsoft have started releasing concrete details for their upcoming flagship next-gen consoles, the PlayStation 5 and the Xbox Series X. After days of press releases, blog posts, and presentations... I am mostly just tired of hearing the word “teraflop.”
It’s not that the specific measurement of computational power for graphics cards is getting me down; rather, it’s the entire approach that Microsoft and Sony have taken to announce their respective next-generation consoles. Both companies have decided that the first and most important message to give customers and developers is about the pure hardware specifications. And so, just over half a year away from these consoles launching, the only thing we really know about them is cold, hard numbers: how fast the processors are; how many compute units the GPUs have; how quickly the SSDs can process data; how much RAM they have; and, of course, the often-bragged-about teraflop count.
Show a tech demo! Or an actual game! Companies need to stop taking the entire exercise so seriously. These are boxes that play video games, a form of entertainment that is ostensibly supposed to be fun. Why not actually show that, instead of treating the details like Cold War intel that needs to be carefully distributed
Compare Microsoft and Sony’s first looks at their consoles to Nintendo’s reveal for the Switch. The focus is on the experience of playing the console, the joy that it brings to people in different ways. There were games shown off that Nintendo hadn’t officially announced for the Switch at that point, some of which wouldn’t arrive for at least a year from when they were first seen in the trailer. Sure, Nintendo also gave hardware details as to how powerful the Switch was, but it wasn’t the spotlight — playing games was.