Digital Foundry’s new video sheds light on a very interesting aspect because it hasn’t been much covered yet, namely the variations and improvements that occur in gaming performance on consoles with firmware updates, as recently measured on PS5 and Xbox Series X| S .
The Digital Foundry video, in the early part through the 12th minute, focuses in particular on the new firmware in beta 3.1 for PS5, which coincidentally proved to make the console more performant in some games. The discovery happened by chance, and Richard Leadbetter from the British newspaper was quite surprised: in the proof of the facts, with the new firmware, some games like Control, Devil May Cry 5 Special Edition and Godfall presented a slight improvement with the new firmware.
This is an upgrade that is practically imperceptible to the naked eye, as it is about differences in 1 or 2 frames per second, but these appear constant and measured regularly by the tools used by the analyzers. This is interesting, above all, because it demonstrates how a centralized update of the console management software, ie the firmware, can be reflected in real game improvements, regardless of updates specific to them, ie the standard way in which these improvements are usually made.
“A console is expected to always work the same in games,” Leadbetter said, always clear, regardless of specific updates to the games themselves, “but in this case we’re looking at system updates that involve differences.” As explained by Alex Battaglia, it is a similar case to what was also recently registered on Xbox Series X|S with regard to Control in particular: although the game has not received a specific patch, the stuttering issues have recently been resolved.
This shows that there has been a change in the “virtual machine” the game is running on or an improvement in the console software that has increased performance. It also opens up tricky prospects for analytics like Digital Foundry, as they argue in the video, because it introduces the issue of possible variations in game performance regardless of specific patches, making it difficult to track improvements.
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