In an interview with Eurogamer, PlayStation global sales and marketing head Jim Ryan seemed fairly blasé about any competition between the Xbox One X and the PS4 Pro. Eurogamer asked about the marketing deals Sony has with certain games, like Call of Duty, FIFA, and Battlefield, and if Ryan anticipated “a significant performance and image quality difference with those games on Xbox One X and PS4 Pro.”
Ryan replied that we should remember what happened with the PS3. The console was significantly more impressive on paper than the competition at the time, yet there were very few developers that “took advantage of the PS3’s additional horsepower.”
Ryan explains that this is because developers generally only want to do “one set of work. You don’t do one set of work to get up to one level and then a different amount of work and consequently may need to go further.” What he means here, is that in order for a game to take advantage of any additional power that one console might have over another, developers essentially have to make two different games depending on the situation. One that uses all the technology available, and one that does not but fits onto most other consoles.
For example, if the Xbox 360 isn’t quite as powerful as the PS3, but a developer wants to make a game for both, the developer will opt for what Ryan calls “the lowest common denominator.” It’s a part of the reason why we see such a vast difference in game quality year-to-year regardless of the consoles available. Though it is not the entire reason, there is the fact that it takes time to realize the potential of technology. Developers are constantly churning the innovation wheel, and sometimes it takes that one breakthrough game for everyone to realize what they can do with their games too.
Nonetheless, as Ryan states in closing on the subject:
“If a developer or publisher wants to take advantage of the supposed power of the X, they will do that. If they don’t, they won’t.”
So it seems that Sony isn’t particularly concerned with any competition between the PS4 Pro and the Xbox One X and we certainly can’t blame them. The PS4 Pro has been selling better than Sony originally anticipated, and as Ryan points out, the PS4 Pro will have been out for a full year by the time gamers get their hands on the Xbox One X. That is a significant marketing advantage; nothing sells more than familiarity and word-of-mouth.