The Frame-rate Issues

Okay, it is time. Time to touch this very delicate subject again, the frame-rates of video games and why it matters so much. And I would answer just because Nintendo announced the Bayonetta 3 in The Game Awards 2017 and I really want to talk about Bayonetta games’ frame-rates because they are prime example exceptionally great games that suffer in the gameplay department and that is the most important part of a video game. These are not movies, these are video games where the gameplay is the most important thing and unlike most people think the frame-rate dictates how good the gameplay is.

Ideally, video games should (at least on consoles when played on TV) should run steady 60 frames per second because that’s the refresh rate (60Hz) of the most consumer televisions. That means the image on the screen refreshes 60 times per second. So, ideally, the games information updates at the same rate for the user to view. Any faster is a waste on a 60Hz screen.

Very common frame-rate used in console games is 30 fps, or what we call half refresh. So, like the name suggests the game updates 30 times per second and every frame is displayed twice. This impacts gameplay in the way that player’s input is delayed additional 16,6 ms. It sounds very minor difference but in practice, it makes a huge difference. In some cases, it might be wise to lock the frame-rate to 30 fps rather than let it run uncapped at somewhere between 30 and 40.

People say they don’t care about frame-rates but when they play 60 fps game they usually say “it’s very smooth and joy to play” but they don’t exactly know why. Well, this is the reason right here, the frame-rate. It should ideally be steady 60 fps, in every game, no exceptions. Let’s get back to Bayonetta and frame-rate issues of that game series.

I decided to demonstrate this with the supercut of clips from Digital Foundry’s analysis videos of Bayonetta and Bayonetta 2.

As you can see, the only case where the frame-rate holds steady 60 fps line and 16,6 ms frame-time is the recently released PC version of the first Bayonetta game. Too bad, we probably never see the sequels on PC because they are published by Nintendo. Don’t get me wrong, it sure is nice we get these sequels at all but I’d just want to actually enjoy playing them without the FRAME-RATE ISSUES!

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