Michael Denny, vice president of Sony’s Worldwide Studios, has outlined the thinking behind the PC oriented hardware of PS4, explaining, “that’s what the development community wanted”.
PS4′s PC architecture “what developers wanted” says Sony
The answer came when I asked if the choice to go with ‘off the shelf’ PC components, rather than another custom PlayStation chip, was a matter of economy as much as strategy? “I think the main reason behind it is that’s what the development community wanted,” Denny replied. “That’s what the development community want in terms of ease of development and making the best games they possibly can.”
Michael Denny, vice president of Sony’s Worldwide Studios
I also queried if this dev-friendly approach was also, in part, a response to the initial difficulty some developers had early on with slotting the PS3 into a PC focused development pipeline (which saw a variety of games ported to PlayStation, post-release, by external studios). ”So that’s certainly one of the points of feedback that developers had in when we were discussing in the early days of what PlayStation 4 architecture should be,” admits Denny. “But, as I say, the main thing was looking at the state of the art CPU and GPU, with ease of development”.
But while PS4 might sound, in Sony’s own words, like “a supercharged PC” Denny makes it clear that, “this is still a console made for gaming, with gaming at its heart”. The change in, and evolution of, technology is part of a process that started five years ago when research into PS4 began. “I think that we learn from all the platforms we launch & systems we’ve developed,” he explains. “Part of PlayStation 4 is learning from previous platforms and making things better. Then part of it is the new experience as well, adding extra features, and you put those together for a much better package and much better experience for the gamer”.
But if the tech is important, it’s what developers do with it that counts. “At the end of the day it’s about the output. It’s about having the best games and the best experiences. To do that you’ve got to have the best creators on board, the best development teams. That’s the whole philosophy behind it and we’ve architected a system that we believe will get us the best content. Making decisions like having the 8GB high speed system memory on board is just a massive win for developers in terms of the sort of games they can create, and the ease of game development”.
“I think that ultimately great content always wins the day,” states Denny. “What we’ve had to be mindful of is that since we launched Playstation 3 the world’s moved on massively. Our consumer’s moved on massively as well, and the way they want to consume their entertainment and content is something we’re very aware of”. That’s part of the reasoning behind PS4: “Not only do we want to build a system where we can get the best creators in the the world to make the best games in the world, but to give these different choices, these difference ways of experiencing that content as well”.
“The main message [of the PS4 reveal] was that we’ve architected it in such a way as to give developers the best shot, the best way possible of creating truly great content,” reiterates Denny. “The idea was really to explain to people our philosophy, our vision for PlayStation 4. That we wanted a very focused approach on the gamer. A very consumer-centric plan. And that was informed by getting great content on to it, and to do that we had to consult with the development community earlier. Because at the end of the day that’s what the differentiator will be”.
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