The last generation of games consoles (ps3/xbox360) often had games that were rendered in 1080p but it was difficult to ever really see the difference between 720p and 1080p. This was due to the hardware limitations of the systems. The CPUs struggled to efficiently implement anti-aliasing and because of the low amount of RAM, textures were often compressed reducing visual quality. This generation however consoles are more powerful and 1080p plays a much bigger role in the quality of the game. I will point out now that there are various processes that are used to smooth out curved lines, it’s not just down to the pixels, but they play a huge role in the final quality. Here is why 1080p is important for video games.
If someone gives you 10 square pieces of paper and asks you to make a circle with them (you cant rotate the paper), you will be left with a circle of squares that doesn’t look very circular. If you took those 10 squares and cut them into 4 smaller squares and made a circle with the 40 smaller squares you would be able to make a round shape that resembles a circle a little better. So the point here is the more squares you have the smoother you can make curves look without needing to cut any corners off the squares.
The example above with squares translates to pixels on a TV. A 720p TV contains 1280×720 = 921600 pixels. This is quite a large amount of squares to use to create images. A 1080p TV will contain 1920×1080 = 2073600 pixels, which is a hell of a lot more pixels than 720p. More pixels means smoother edges since there are more pixels to create the edges with.
Curves aren’t the only reason 1080p is important. Games are becoming increasingly detailed, if the resolution isn’t high enough then some of the detail will get lost because there simply aren’t enough pixels to display all of the detail. Think back to 8 bit Mario, he looked like a man, but you couldn’t see any detail in his mustache or his eyes. The newer picture of Mario is the exact same height, but it contains a lot more pixels (squares) making it more detailed. The higher the native resolution of a game the more detail the image on screen will contain.
The final reason why 1080p is more important now than ever is down to the size of TVs. The vast majority of TV’s you see in stores are a minimum of 32 inches. Most people who already own HDTVs will be going for something that’s 40-50 inches. A 720p image might look fine on a 32inch TV but when you bring that same image to a 52 inch TV it looks like garbage. Have you ever been on YouTube watching videos don’t have a HD option? The video looks fine when it’s small but when you make it full screen you can hardly make out what’s going on. This is because you are taking a small image and stretching it to fit your screen which is a much higher resolution than the video. Think of it like a balloon, write your name on it when it’s deflated then blow it up. The writing that was detailed before is no longer clear. If you write on the balloon when it’s blown up already the writing will be sharper.