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Developers React to PlayStation 4
What went right? Where did Sony fall short? We asked developers across the industry.
IGN and its wonderful readers have been reacting to the PlayStation 4 since its reveal on February 20 -- even Xbox fans were floored. But what about the people who actually make games? After all, this is supposedly a platform "for developers by developers."
We reached out to some of the industry's brightest creative minds for feedback -- what excites designers, directors, and leaders about the platform, what might be missing, and what's Sony doing right?
This is what came back.
Tim Sweeney, Epic Games Founder and CEO
The PlayStation 4 is a leading-edge hardware platform, and its enormous CPU, GPU and memory resources enables Unreal Engine 4 to reach levels of visual quality and detail that go far beyond the current generation, for games of all sizes and genres.
The features and effects in our new "Elemental" demo on PlayStation 4 are just the tip of the iceberg, showing dynamic lighting and shadowing, subsurface scattering and GPU-powered particle effects at full 1080p resolution.
As the developers of the Unreal Engine, we're passionate about not only building great games, but building them efficiently. PlayStation 4 builds upon PC technology and takes it to the next level, providing a very robust and easy-to-use development environment.
As we're building games that are an order of magnitude more detailed than the current generation, Unreal Engine 4's tools combined with PlayStation 4's hardware enable developers to achieve that in a reasonable amount of time and on-budget. Our console efforts are focused on high-end, mainstream platforms that will be supported by enormous launches and large-scale support by major developers and publishers.
With PlayStation 4, Sony has defined an ideal next-generation platform with massive appeal to core gamers, and incredible potential for bringing triple-A experiences to the next level.
Ted Price, Insomniac President and CEO
Yes, the PS3 got a bad rap for being tough to develop for. I imagine that's kept some developers from making the leap -- no such excuse exists now. But having worked with Sony first party folks for many years I think what's often overlooked is how creatively supportive Sony has been for its partners over the last couple of decades. Games like Ico, Little Big Planet and Journey exist thanks in large part to Shuhei Yoshida's and others' commitment to shepherding innovation and taking creative risks. I see that continuing and that's great for gamers.
[Mark Cerny] is a thoughtful, brilliant guy and to have him leading the effort on Sony's software approach speaks volumes for how much Sony has listened to developers during this past generation.
There's a lot about the PlayStation 4 that is clearly an advance over the PS3. And that's cool from a dev perspective. But looking at the bigger picture, what's important to us as a developer who's created franchises for the Sony platforms is that Sony fans are excited. Reading comments online yesterday it seems to me that there are a lot of Sony loyalists who are pumped about the new console. That's great for all of us who make games on Sony platforms.
The Share button has me the most excited. It's visually the most subtle new feature but potentially the most powerful. As most gamers know, hooking up and sharing with your friends is a super-gratifying aspect of gaming today. But it can be a convoluted process depending on the game and the hardware. If it truly does become a one-button press to connect with your friends it'll be a big step forward for games.
David Goldfarb, Overkill Game Director
I guess I didn't see anything -- in terms of software -- that I was genuinely excited about. Killzone 4 looked wonderful, but I didn't get why I should want to play the game. The moment I liked there was when they moved the crowds away from the player -- I found that interesting, intriguing. But the moment my gun came out it was every other shooter, ever.
The other software I saw I felt equally ambivalent about, but there are a lot of talented developers out there and I'm sure some good stuff will come to be. The Gaikai stuff is interesting and potentially huge. The hardware seems like powerful and easier to develop for. I was hoping for more innovation in the input, but time will tell how that works out.
I think the irony for me is that "next-gen console" is mostly playing catch-up with PCs, So if they aren't innovating on other axes I think it's going to be a rough transition for everyone.
Josh Tsui, Robomodo President
Since new console introductions only come once every 5 or so years from each company, this was some pretty exciting stuff.
Personally, my eyes glaze over seeing yet another military fps blah-blah-blah or any other tired genre. We all know that we'll get certain game types. I was more excited to see what Media Molecule and Jonathan Blow were up to. It was nice to see Sony give indie gaming some time as Sony has some really great things for indie developers. If they can carve out a part of their digital download strategy for some serious indie distribution that is sane, I think that would be a surprising game-changer against other consoles.
I was really hoping for at least one "big" feature that makes me go "holy 🤬 , never thought about that" in terms of changing the way people play games currently. Not necessarily a bad thing, but I was surprised not one single new feature really jumped out.
One pleasant thing that was implied a couple of times is that PS4 is a game machine first and foremost. Games being what leads the experience. I personally like that a lot. Doesn't mean I won't use Netflix on it, but it means that I know where I can turn for a quick game fix. I hope they keep to that promise and make sure that the UX is game-centric.
Stewart Gilray, Just Add Water CEO
We are incredibly proud to be working on PS4. Sony's passion and insight into connectivity and instant-access gaming is incredibly refreshing and encouraging to us as a developers. It allows us the ability to create immersive titles that truly engage the player at all opportunities.
PS4 is a dream. It's as they said: incredibly easy to develop for and extremely powerful. Having 8GB of DDR5 ram is staggering, as the speed that the data can be shifted around outstrips that 8GB. However, as a smallish indie, to us it's not about what we can do, it's about what we can do well. 1080p, 60fps, 3D is where it's at, and so far we're blown away by what we've managed to achieve with the hardware. Currently our imaginations are running away with themselves.
Jared Gerritzen, Zombie Studios Creative Studio Head
It's no secret PC gaming is and will be driving technical growth in the gaming industry, however the console "experience" is completely different and something we all can easily enjoy. With the PS4 announcement, the biggest thing I'm excited about is the evolved controller.
The addition of a touch screen can be a serious game changer, games can now expand out of the constraints of the set number of buttons and add swipes and other quick motions to add more depth in the gameplay and function of the game. I love the idea of the share button as well giving players even quicker access to show off games we all work so hard to make.
I have gotten my hands on the controller recently and I'm very happy to say the thumb sticks feel WAY better, and it was my biggest gripe about the PS3.
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