While many question the true graphical benefit a new console generation would bring, Square Enix worldwide technology director Julien Merceron is confident the new hardware will offer significantly more realistic games that will compare more closely to CGI movies.
"I think that we're still going to see a big leap in graphics," he said. "In terms of technology I think we'll see developers taking advantage of physically-based rendering, physically-based lighting. I think people will take advantage of global illumination, or at least some form approximation of global illumination, so that could have a significant impact on graphics quality."
These are techniques currently used by CGI movies, which Merceron says will offer studios the opportunity to take assets directly from CGI flicks and reuse them in next-gen games. "It's going to enable new forms of art direction, but it's also going to enable deeper convergence between multiple media - being able to share more assets horizontally between movies, TV series and games," he said.
He goes on to say realistic-looking games will benefit most from the new advances rather than cartoony style games. "If you take most of the Pixar movies from the last five to six years... do you see a big difference between one that was released five years ago, and one that was released last year? I'm actually not sure we see a huge difference," he explained.
"But if you take a film like Avatar, there's a huge leap in the graphics techniques that are being used and the level of realism. The conclusion I would draw from that is we might end up seeing the difference way more in realistic-looking games, rather than those trying to achieve a cartoony look."
Nintendo's Wii U console compares in processing power to the current-gen HD consoles, but a much bigger generational leap is expected from Microsoft and Sony's next efforts.
But who will jump first? M2 Research analyst Billy Pidgeon has speculated that the release of a new Xbox may leave the hardcore market wide open for a PS3 clean sweep.
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