The problem with this Ultra HD future we’re moving toward is that we’re in a weird in-between spot where the most convenient media delivery method (streaming) can’t hold a candle to the quality of the source material. The tech-minded folks at at Digital Foundry are acutely aware of this. As such, rather than relying on YouTube’s lossy and compressed method of hosting videos, DF has struck out on its own for offering source-quality downloads for its game-tech analysis videos.
“Coming out of the PlayStation Meeting a couple of months back, we became acutely aware of how difficult it is to capture the 4K experience with bandwidth-constrained streaming platforms like YouTube,” DF’s Richard Leadbetter writes. “The whole point of 4K is its pristine level of presentation, and we’ve swiftly discovered that existing 4K streaming content actually seems to resolve to lower levels than 1080p.
“We couldn’t show you what PS4 Pro — or indeed other high-end gaming hardware — was capable of, because the platform didn’t exist to get the job done. So we decided to build it.”
Exactly what “it” is is simple: A platform for downloading high-quality h.264-encoded gameplay videos. A $5 per-month Patreon subscription will net you access to everything the publication has to offer. And if you want to take a look at what you’ll get before committing the money, there’s a free video comparing Rise of the Tomb Raider running on the PS4 Pro and a PC rig with a Titan X Pascal. For paid videos you’ve got 4K files for Titanfall 2, Modern Warfare Remastered, Uncharted 4 as well as PC footage of Battlefield 1 and Forza Horizon 3 running at 60FPS.
As far as local playback goes, you’re going to need something capable of playing 4K video. Which at this point means a Mac running Quicktime, a USB drive that you can plug into your UHD TV or a PC running the DF-recommended Media Player Classic Home Cinema. Just don’t try playing them on your Xbox One S or PS4 Pro — those currently won’t playback 4K video from their respective media player apps. Leadbetter also says that his team will be adding 1080p videos from its catalog to the site as well.
Sony itself experimented with something similar prior to launching the PS4 back in 2013, offering 1080p60 gameplay footage of Killzone: Shadow Fall, but apparently didn’t see much use for it and focused on streaming after that. Hrm, sounds familiar.