The “True 4k” Myth

Marketing is not a practice that values honesty very much. In fact, marketing essentially sets out to sell consumers on dreams that aren’t really attainable. The Video Game Industry is no different in this regard. The release of the Xbox One X provides us with a great case study for this premise.

In the year and a half since the initial rumors of the X1X up until its release last week Microsoft hit consumers over the head with the talk about experiencing true 4k. You had folks like Phil Spencer standing on stages talking about how powerful his division’s newest console would be while telling us that it would be the only console where we could experience “True 4k” uncompromised. Unfortunately, for Uncle Phil, Digital Foundry exists, and they’ve been hitting us with the numbers.

Now if you took in all of the conferences, advertisements and interviews you would have been lead to believe that “True 4k” would mean that every game on the X1X would be 4k native. Not the case. Not even close in fact. Outside of Microsoft’s first party games, most of the games tested by Digital Foundry haven’t been able to hit 4k without compromises (look no further than Assassin’s Creed and Titanfall 2).

Now Xbox fanatics have said things like “well since some games hit 4k then the X1X is a true 4k machine”. That is probably the most asinine thing that I’ve heard in quite some time. Not only does that misalign with the words of Xbox big wigs but by that logic the PS4, a console released last November is also a “True 4k” console, as it can run sports games in 4k. The Xbox fanatic would reply “but Nev sports sims don’t count, they’re barely games.” And to that I would point out how quick Microsoft and its fans are to use Forza to show off the graphical power of its hardware every singe year – games mind you, that look fantastic so long as you don’t avert your eyes off of the track and into the crowd. Regardless though, by the metrics of Microsoft itself, the PS4 Pro is as much a “True 4k” console as the Xbox One X is and anyone that thought that it would be running every game at native 4k uncompromised was hoodwinked. But this is the console war so I doubt anything I just said will matter in the end. That said, if you’re a stickler for graphics the X1X is the best place to play multiplats for now, so just play your games.

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