PS5 and Xbox Series X performance could come with a major catch

Horizon Forbidden West
(Image credit: Sony)

The PS5 and Xbox Series X aren’t set to kill off gaming at 30 frames per second despite their targets of delivering 4K gaming at 60 fps. 

A deep dive into the performance of the two upcoming next-generation consoles by Eurogamer’s Digital Foundry explained that we’ll still be playing games at 30 fps come the consoles’ launch at the end of the year. Gaming performance guru Richard Leadbetter noted that developers will still need to choose between delivering next-generation graphics or doubling frame rate, rather than really being able to opt for both.

Leadbetter suggested that upcoming PS5 games like Horizon: Forbidden West and Ratchet and Clank come with next-generation graphics and fidelity facilitated by the next-gen GPU in the PS5. But delivering such sumptuous visuals, especially with ray-tracing enabled, could leave the PS5’s hardware with little headroom to push framerate up to 60fps. 

Having analysed footage from the PS5 games showcase in June, Leadbetter concluded: “Sony's PS5 showcase strongly suggests is that 30fps remains an enabler for some tremendous visual experiences — and we can't wait to see more.” 

This might come as a disappointment to some console gaming fans who may have been expecting 60 fps to be the standard across the board for all games on the next-generation consoles, But Leadbetter said forcing developers to go down this route would be a “fundamentally bad idea”. That’s because making such a move would then force developers to potentially make compromises on their games’ visual quality. 

What’s likely to happen according to Leadbetter, and our own expectations is that older games that will be ported over to the PS5 and Xbox Series X will benefit from the new console power and will run at 60fps or higher. Meanwhile, new titles that offer a new step-up in graphics will probably run at 30fps, at least until developers get more familiar with the consoles’ architecture. 

Unsurprisingly, Leadbetter noted that the best way to get seriously high-fidelity and high frame rate gaming is to get a powerful PC — you can find one in our best gaming PCs list. But that’s not to diminish the potential of the PS5 or Xbox Series X, both of which are likely to deliver impressive gaming experiences, particularly as they mature. You only need to look at graphics Naughty Dog manage to pull out of the PS4 with The Last Of Us 2 as an example of what the PS5 could eventually be capable of. 

Roland Moore-Colyer

Roland Moore-Colyer a Managing Editor at Tom’s Guide with a focus on news, features and opinion articles. He often writes about gaming, phones, laptops and other bits of hardware; he’s also got an interest in cars. When not at his desk Roland can be found wandering around London, often with a look of curiosity on his face.