4K Ultra HD Should Be the Standard in Arcades

For far too long, I wasn’t willing to make the jump to 4K in my home electronics. I was fairly content with high-definition and, in many cases, standard-definition content.


Then, I decided enough was enough. The year 2021 seemed like the perfect time to bite off on a 4K television and 4K Ultra-HD Blu-ray player. After all, it only made sense to future-proof myself for the best and brightest in entertainment.


And that got me thinking: If I’m future-proofing myself with 4K at home, shouldn’t developers do the same thing in arcades? The short answer is a resounding yes.


Way before my time, arcades were viewed as the pinnacle of gaming technology, and rightfully so. Through the early 2000s, arcade games generally packed in the most polygons, output at the crispest resolution, and ran at the fastest framerate.


But these days, that couldn’t be farther from the truth. While consoles are boasting more polygons than ever and fully embracing 4K, arcades are largely capped at acceptable polygon counts and a measly 1080p HD. Arcades aren’t pushing the envelope anymore.


In my opinion, this really blows. What selling point do arcades have if not cutting-edge technology? We’re certainly not convincing any hardcore gamers to play our games based on the flashing LEDs lining the T-molding.


Of course, not everyone gets the appeal of 4K—and neither did I for a while—but you don’t need to personally desire 4K to understand why it’s so crucial. An important player demographic craves 4K, and they need to be satisfied in order for arcades to secure them.


Beyond that, 4K is serves a very real purpose to the artistry of games. The vast number of pixels allows artists to convey more visual information to the player than ever before, something that’s not only gorgeous but also practical.


I think this is best illustrated by comparing Halo: Fireteam Raven to, say, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, both from Raw Thrills. When I play TMNT, I’m dismayed by the graininess of the image at such close range. But when I play Fireteam Raven, I’m immersed in the sheer depth of the in-game world. My suspension of disbelief is sufficiently solid.


I want every arcade game to feel this brilliant, and I don’t want us to get left behind. If coin-op is still leaning on 1080p by this point, what the heck will we do when 8K becomes the standard? I’d prefer we set that standard before consoles, but those prospects seem slim.


The bottom line is I really dig fancy-pants hardware and wouldn’t mind seeing it in arcades—so much so that I basically wrote this same article last year. (As I’ve said before, I’m nothing if not consistent in my lofty demands.)


Anyway, I hope you enjoyed today’s spiel. For more of this crud, follow me on Twitter or join my Discord server. See ya.

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