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Ask PSLS: The Frame Rate Debate

August 6, 2014 Written by Chandler Wood

 thelastofusremasteredphotomode3

Ask PSLS is a feature that sources questions from our community of readers via TwitterFacebookthe forums, and even your emails. If you have a question for the staff to answer, contact us at any of those channels and you could be featured on the next Ask PSLS, with the possibility of winning a prize for being chosen!


We look to the forums this week for a question from user Spycke83, asking “Does 60 [frames per second] really matter?”

“I’m wondering what everyone’s opinion is on this. I don’t think it does to a certain degree. I just picked up TLOU Remastered and had to lock it at 30fps. I found that it was too stuttery and it distracted from what should be an amazing experience.

I never even heard ‘frames per second’ mentioned before the current generation of consoles and I’m curious as to what other people think.

With so much focus being put on frame rates in everything from The Last of Us Remastered, to the recent announcement of 30 fps in the Resident Evil HD Remaster, and even LittleBigPlanet 3the PSLS staff are jumping into the frame rate debate.

Alex Co (@excaliburps)

I honestly don’t care that much. As long as the core game itself is sound, it can be 30 or 60fps. I understand the concern when it comes to shooters, but for other genres, it shouldn’t be that big of an issue as some gamers make it out to be.

Of course, seeing as I’ve said this, I’m ready for comments that say “LOLOL Alex NoT a real gaemrz!11!” or something. I’d rather have a good, solid game than one that’s armed to the teeth technically, but can’t hold my attention for more than 15 minutes.

Cameron Teague

I mean I would take 60 First Person Shooters any day over 30 because more is obviously better…!! oh wait, not FPS as in First Person, but fps as in frames per second… oh yea, don’t care about that at all… Look, if the game plays smooth and there are no noticeable hiccups or slowdown, then it’s all good. I don’t judge games by those kind of numbers. I take a peek at how it plays and how it looks and I judge it from that.

Chandler Wood (@FinchStrife)

I was on the side of not caring until I saw the direct difference for myself in The Last of Us Remastered. I was blown away at how big the difference actually is when you compare in a setting where you can directly toggle back and forth between 30 and 60fps. But there is so much more to this debate than just the number of frames per second. Do compromises need to be made for that higher frame rate? At double the frames, that means you are utilizing twice as much rendering power. Could that processing power be going elsewhere in your game? If everything is optimized perfectly, then by all means, take me all the way to 60fps, but if you are compromising the quality of other aspects of your game… just don’t. 

There’s also the fun factor. I play games that are fun (and ones that I have to review… regardless of their fun factor). While a higher resolution and frame rate might look prettier and smoother, my purchase decisions will never be based on those factors. To be honest, I still won’t be checking the game case to see what the resolution or frame rate is, because when it comes right down to it, I still don’t really care. 

D’yani Wood (@Dyani)

Before I played The Last of Us Remastered, I really didn’t care about fps. I understood that somehow 60fps was good and I didn’t feel that anything less was bad. Now, however, I have seen how much of a difference a higher frame rate makes. I still don’t think anything less is bad, though. I only notice a difference if I switch back and forth. I do think that developers should constantly strive for more HD-ness in games. Making sure to give gamers some settings to toggle would be a great goal too.

Dan Oravasaari (@FoolsJoker)

The debate over frames per second and what is ‘True HD’ is an interesting conversation. On one hand, most people tend to not care about the specs of a video game, they only care about the experience it gives. This is pretty much like saying you love to drive, but don’t care about the specifics of the car you are driving. To some it is just about the experience, and to others, it is about maximizing the experience. Gamers, much like car enthusiasts, or any other passion filled hobby, come in different shades.

To me, I think it is less about the number of frames per second than it is about the stability of the frame rate. A stable 30 fps is better than a sometimes 60fps, and 1080p is better than 720p, but only if it doesn’t detract away from the rest of the experience.

Louis Edwards (@frtwrthtx)

When I played my first PC shooter game (Doom) the game gave me a headache due to the frame rate being low, choppy, and inconsistent. It was very hard on the eyes and the brain. For one to understand frame rate, one has to understand exactly what it is and how it affects gamers. 30 frames per second may seem OK to most, but for some it’s still hard on the eyes. As a migraine sufferer, maybe I’m a little more sensitive to these things, but going from something like  driving a car in GT6 at 200MPH over to driving the same car in Grid Autosport at 200MPH, the difference to me is night and day and makes Grid unplayable for me. [Ed. Note - GT6 maintains a higher, more consistent frame rate than Grid Autosport]

If a game’s frame rate is low, choppy, and inconsistent, regardless of how great the story is, it’s unplayable for me.

Ryan

In many cases frame rate is irrelevant. When frame rate becomes an issue is when there are huge variances. You’re not going to notice if a game stays within about the same range. This is why a lot of games offer the option to lock the frame rate. A lower frame rate locked in is going to be less disruptive than a high frame rate that is all over the place.

That being said, the importance of frame rate also varies greatly depending upon the type of game you’re playing. In fast paced action games and First Person Shooters, a higher frame rate will feel more fluid and responsive. This is why Call of Duty prefers a lower native resolution at a higher frame rate.

For me, I care more about gameplay and feel. If I don’t notice the game slowing down, I don’t care whether it’s running at 30fps or 31.725fps or 120fps. If the graphics look amazing, I don’t care whether they are 1080p or 900p or 720p. If a developer can optimize their game to the point where they can maintain 1080p at 60fps without losing image quality, that’s awesome! But I would hate to see an Assassin’s Creed game running at 1080p and 60fps with a “crowd” of only 5 people to walk through because they had to get all those pixels on the screen.

Zarmena Khan (@Zarmena)

I’ve got a confession; I don’t understand this debate at all. Why people spend so much time obsessing over frame rates is beyond me. As long as the gameplay is smooth, controls are solid, and the graphics are of good quality, I think this discussion is pointless. I have a mid-range gaming PC, a PlayStation 3 and a PlayStation 4, but not once have I felt the need to draw comparisons and nitpick on the differences. If I am having fun playing a game, which is what I like to think they’re intended for, I don’t care about anything else.

Will you base your purchases on the resolution and frames per second, or can games be great without high end graphics? Remember to send us questions for Ask PSLS on TwitterFacebookthe forums, and email. Be sure to check back next Wednesday to see what question the PSLS staff will be answering!