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The Next Generation Starts When 3rd Party Devs Start Fully Utilizing The PS3

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“Sony says the next generation starts when they say so – bullshit!” – Mark Rein

Yep, Sony made some big claims a few years ago. They told us every game would be 1080p and 120fps. Kutaragi referenced “4d” when speaking about the system. The fact that they said the next generation will start when they say so sent many fanboys on both sides of the fence into a fire. Has Sony delivered on their promises? For the most part yes, but what about the frequent claims that the 360 hardware is holding PS3 development back?

We’ve heard a few developers state that if they solely made games exclusive to the PS3, they would come out better than their current multiplatform product. We’ve heard this in reference to GTAIV and also Ghost Busters. I would think that if you could devote all or your resources to one title, you could take better advantage of the hardware. This however, works both ways. If you look at what Bungie and Epic have done for the 360, there’s no comparison at all on the PS3. You could say the same with what Naughty Dog and Ninja Theory have done for the PS3…there’s no comparison.

What people don’t understand is that when you set out to make a game, you lay out everything before you even render one polygon.  I’m sure the Liberty City map was all planned out long before they started developing the game using the Rage engine on the 360.  So if the game is fully planned prior to coding and CG work, how is it that in the case of GTAIV, the 360 held back the PS3 version?  Was there more they wanted to do but couldn’t?  What exactly got cut from the 360 version to keep it on one disk?

Hauser said they will need to utilize the hard drive for GTAV.  Every PS3 has a hard drive and the same can’t be said for the 360.  THIS is why GTAV could be PS3 exclusive.  As I’ve said before though, work on GTAV might not start until the next Xbox is available.  We still have 2 expansions to go through and probably some DLC on the PS3 too.

Mark Randall of Terminal Reality said this about multiplatform Ghostbusters development on MTV Multiplayer:

Randell explains the technical reason behind their decision. “The multiprocessing model of the PS3 is not a general-purpose model,” said Randell. “It simultaneously uses one main processor and six specialized co-processors: the Synergetic Processing Units, or “SPU’s.”

That’s not the case with Xbox 360 and traditional modern PCs. “[Those platforms] share a general-purpose multiprocessor coding model,” he continued. “The 360 uses three general-purpose PowerPC processors, and most current PCs use between one and four Intel or AMD processors.”

GhostbustersThe end result: Terminal Reality believes that moving a “Ghostbusters” game developed on hardware with specialized processors (PS3) to general processors (Xbox 360, PC) is much easier than doing it the other way around. Many studios, however, have chosen the other way around, with the PS3 version lagging in performance up until the last few months of development. Or, as the case with a number of mulit-platform games released in 2007, never catching up.

Randell’s team might spend a more time on technology early on, but the ease in porting means they avoid having one platform perform better than the other, he argues.

“We’ve found that writing for the PS3 first and then porting to the 360 and PC is a much simpler and more efficient procedure,” he concluded.

I remember them also saying that they could do more with Ghostbusters if it was PS3 exclusive. This specifically concerned having more objects on the screen at the same time. From what I’ve seen of the 360 version, they’ve jumped well over that hump. When I talked to developers from Capcom, Bethesda and Monolith, they all stated that they would use the strengths of each system to put out the best games possible.  This is something that can’t always be said when it comes ot 3rd party developers.  Madden 08 ran at 30fps on PS3 as opposed to 60fps on the 360.  Orange Box was ported internally by EA and has problems that still haven’t been addressed.  Assassin’s Creed had many problems that had to be patched at a later date.

The trend I’m seeing here is that PS3 games just need more time in development.  The hardware is different and devs need to spend more time with it to utilize it’s power and functionality.  This is why many devs have switched to the PS3 as the lead on multiplatform titles.  Both Criterion and Infinity Ward have done some amazing things on both platforms.  Burnout and COD 4 came out exactly how they were envisioned and no one is claiming that the PS3 version would be better if it was exclusive.

Sony’s first and second party developers have the luxury of bigger budgets, more staff and more tools and assistance from Sony.  3rd parties are left to fend for themselves.  Most of the 3rd parties don’t have the manpower to fully utilize the PS3.  There’s also that need to get multiplatform games released day and date.  Publishers have the choice to move a title back or release what they have and patch later.  Some of them will even release the 360 version first and bring the PS3 version out later.  Look at Bioshock.  Some may say it’s a perfect game.  1yr after the 360 version was released, we are finally seeing the PS3 version and it’s core gameplay and graphics are not one bit different.

So as you can see, it’s the developers that are holding back the PS3 development, not the 360.  Time is a good thing to have and developers should push to get more time with the hardware to put out better products.  If you want better multiplatform games on the PS3, then push for more development time.  Send emails, write letters, make phone calls!  Use the demo as a means to determine if the game needs more work. Don’t sit back and settle for less, make your voice be heard.

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