Friday, February 22, 2013

PS4 feelings.

I don't think I ever really felt the PS4 would be backwards compatible.  Sony painted themselves into a corner with the PS3's Cell processor, and the only (efficient) method of having all your PS3 games work on the PS4 would be to include the Cell chip in every single console - rather like they did with the PS2's emotion chip in first-gen PS3s - but that's just not going to happen, here.

Heck, it barely happened back then.

There's no sense in being pissy about it - backwards compatibility simply isn't in the cards, unless Sony is prepared to invest in software emulation - which, based on the PS3's BC situation, is a dubious proposition at best.  Hackers have already produced some (rather unreliable) emulators for PC, but given how complex the Cell is, it's unlikely you'll ever be able to slide a PS3 disc into your PS4 and have it play.

I know Sony's other devs - Naughty Dog and Geurrilla, Sony Santa Monica, Media Molecule and SCE Studio Japan - have a larger part of the popular gamer mindshare, but to me, Sucker Punch is the most reliably excellent developer in their stable.  Sure, not graphically (though inFamous 2 was gorgeous), but nobody does pure fun factor like Sucker Punch.

It may sound simple-minded to suggest, but this announcement is all I really wanted from the PS4 debut.  And I got it.

I'm a happy camper.

A gorgeous new first-person shooter, a racing game and some mumbled support from Japanese third-party developers aside, Sony wasn't exactly bringing the noise in terms of software - but let's be honest, here.

Odds are pretty good the first year of the PS4 is going to suck, in terms of software.  First years always kinda' suck, as a general rule.  We'll have a Resistance, of course.  We'll have a Gravity Rush or some game that will make the console's purchase feel less ridiculous - but given the PS4's totally-traditional chipset, I feel it's not too optimistic to imagine the platform will have much more robust third-party support than its predecessor.

The way the system's architecture is described, it also sounds like the PS4 will have a lot of room to pull off some rather ridiculous stuff in terms of teraflops and gigaquads (Killzone: Shadow Fall runs at 1080p, 30FPS for example), so I feel there's probably a lot to look forward here.

It's designed to be easy to port your game on to for multiplatform developers, but has a layout that will make it possible for Sony's first-party studios to push the system far further than a multiplatform dev might want to (see: the difference between an Uncharted and a Dead Space).

Now everyone's talking about what Microsoft will unveil in April (word is that's when they'll announce the 360's successor), but I'm not sure I care.  Odds are it will be equivalent to the PS4 in terms of horsepower, and beyond that the only remaining question is software.

If I were to bet on a company to have excellent software, I'm afraid I won't be betting on Microsoft.  Sony simply have the best stable of first-party developers, and that's that.  Unless Microsoft's box ends up out-performing the PS3 in every which way but loose, I can't see myself adopting it within the first two or three years of its life.

My only real fear for the system, now - for the entire next generation, come to think of it - is that if triple-A games for the current gen have budgets that equal the GDP of small countries, if developers have been shuttering their doors left and right for the past half-decade because a single failed launch spells death for a development house, what on earth is going to happen to developers when all games are expected to look this sexy?

Well, okay - "sexy."

I worry, man.  I worry for the Double Fines and Platinums of the world.

On the bright side, a new inFamous!

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