360 Games in 720p?
I've gotten this question from a couple people now, so I thought I'd post the answer here...
Q: I just realized Xbox games are only 720p - what's up with that??
A: 720p... ahh yes... the eternal debate. So here's the scoop. Right now, most people have 720p or 1080i TVs. (1080i is sometimes called 540p because it's you're really only displaying 540 lines with each frame.) 1080p is starting to become a lot more common in new TV sets this fall. Microsoft went for 720p last year with the release because that's what consumers were using, and 720p vs. 1080i isn't much of a contest. 720p wins hands down for gaming and other fast moving content. 1080i is only good for slow moving television like nature shows on DiscoveryHD. That's also one big reason why HD football looks so much better on Fox and ESPN than it does on NBC.
Then Sony comes along and touts their 1080p revolution that will rock the gaming world. That's fine... XBox has announced that there is an update coming very soon that will enable full 1080p gaming on the XBox. The XBox will even do upconversion of your existing DVDs and games to 1080p. That's something the PS3 does NOT do. On a side note, you need to use the 360 VGA adapter if you want DVD upconversion. There are some laws that don't allow DVD upconversion over component cables. You'll still get 1080p gaming out of component, but the easiest answer is to just use a VGA adapter.
The thing is, even though 1080p is available to developers, they are still writing games in 720p. Why? With both the PS3 and the 360, 720p looks BETTER than 1080p. This generation of equipment doesn't have the power to do 1080p well. There are just so many more pixels to deal with. When you do 720p you have time to do multiple passes over the pixels and do nice anti-aliasing and other effects. When you step up to 1080p, you have about 55% less processing time, so the graphics don't look as pretty. Sure there are more pixels, but the overall image is lower quality.
So to make a long story short, the 360 will do all the 1080p that the PS3 can do and more. It's up to developers to decide if they want to do 1080p. I imagine down the road, once developers get used to sucking all the power out of each platform, they'll have better luck with 1080p. But for now, expect most games to stick with 720p.