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PlayStation (Games) Sony Entertainment Games

Sony Makes It Hard To Develop For the PS3 On Purpose 616

Posted by Soulskill
from the how's-that-working-out-for-you dept.
adeelarshad82 writes "CNet reports on a bizarre comment from Sony's Computer Entertainment CEO in response to complaints from developers on how hard it is to develop games for the Playstation 3. 'We don't provide the "easy to program for" console that (developers) want, because "easy to program for" means that anybody will be able to take advantage of pretty much what the hardware can do, so then the question is, what do you do for the rest of the nine-and-a-half years?' Given that games heavily drive console sales, and the fact that the PS3 is already 8 million units behind the Xbox 360, I think making a developer's job harder is the last thing Sony needs."
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Sony Makes It Hard To Develop For the PS3 On Purpose

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  • Let darwin decide? (Score:5, Informative)

    by girlintraining (1395911) on Sunday March 01, 2009 @12:31PM (#27030383)

    I go to an obscure reference; Acts of Gord, specifically the Book of Chronicles, Chapter 1 [actsofgord.com], wherein the great Gord spake thusly:

    The public does NOT buy a system unless they feel it will give them lots of new games down the road. Look at MS. They are screaming "Xbox has
    developers! Honest! More than we can fit into a bus!" which is the right approach. Joe Average will NOT buy a system if he feels that there won't be lots of new stuff coming out. And Nintendo burned a lot of bridges with their barren N64 release schedule for good games. They need to come out and say "hey! Hundreds of games are coming out!" except that would be a lie.

    I highly encourage you all to go read Acts of Gord, not only because it's hilarious but because it's written by a guy who actually RAN a video game store. For several years. The bottom line is this: You screw the developers and no games get put out. No games = no consumer interest.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday March 01, 2009 @12:51PM (#27030529)

    Your comment makes perfect sense except...there are 21 million PS3's in homes already. (See http://www.psxextreme.com/ps3-news/4653.html [psxextreme.com])

  • by tixxit (1107127) on Sunday March 01, 2009 @12:52PM (#27030533)
    They did this same strategy with the PS2 and its emotion engine or whatever. I remember after about a year, hearing about how these first gen games still hadn't even used a good hunk of the PS2's power. Well, if you look at some of the games that came out over the next few years, I'd say they were right! And he is right, you are not really going to see a vast improvement in the games on the Xbox over the next years. Developers are already trying to max out the hardware. The PS3 may be tricky, but there is still huge room for improvement in games (and its not like they look bad already).
  • by commodore64_love (1445365) on Sunday March 01, 2009 @12:59PM (#27030583) Journal

    It's true that end-of-life games are more-advanced, but that doesn't do much good if you're in a distant 3rd place. Some of the best Atari 7800 ProSystem games were made in the 1990, 5 years after release, but who cares? By that point it was a distant 3rd place behind the Master System and NES. The A7800 was a flop because it was too hard to program for. Same with the Jaguar of the early 90s. Same with the Sega Saturn of the mid-90s.

    Too hard to program for == failure to impress gamers == flop.

  • by commodore64_love (1445365) on Sunday March 01, 2009 @01:08PM (#27030667) Journal

    Sony would have had a success if they had not priced PS3 at DOUBLE the price a console is supposed to be (around $300 historically).

    Talk about shooting yourself in the foot. Sony priced themselves beyond the budget of most gamers, and those gamers quit #1 Sony (120 million PS2s and 100 million PS1s), and decided to try the reasonably-priced also-rans - Nintendo and Microsoft. Now the also-rans are the new dominators. Sony was foolish.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday March 01, 2009 @01:15PM (#27030727)

    I work as a software developer for a prominent games development company. We make games for multiple platforms (Xbox 360,PS3,Wii,PC, PS2, Xbox, and of course in the past other consoles).

    What we do is make a single common engine that runs on all platforms, this is so the people developing the actual game have a common and easy base to work from. (In theory)

    Have you noticed multi platform games look better on the Xbox 360 vs the PS3 or PS3 ones come out way later? The simple reason is you have to sweat blood and tears to get the same performance out of the PS3 to match the Xbox. (Hear those thousands of screams out in the night? Those are PS3 developer! :)

    Of course on paper the PS3 is more "powerful" (well besides the GPU which isn't), but spending an additional 12+ developer months to get the engine working at the same speed and quality which the competitors platform have from day one is bad for Sony.

    I think we'd all agree spending that developer time on the actual game would be more beneficial!

    Additionally Microsoft's developer tools are much more mature and user friendly.
    Thanks

  • Re:Python? (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday March 01, 2009 @01:30PM (#27030845)

    python is vb for people that hate vb.

    FTFY.

    Seriously... have you even used Python and VB? They are both imperative languages--and that's about where the similarity ends.

  • debugging (Score:3, Informative)

    by igomaniac (409731) on Sunday March 01, 2009 @02:09PM (#27031193)

    There is no doubt that multi-core, multi-cpu programming is the future, but at the moment the tools are bascially crap. At least with CUDA there's a programming paradigm that's actually usable, but there is still no way to debug your program. Well, you can run in emulation mode, but your code will run so slow it never gets to the point where the bug occurs -- and anyway if you have a non-trivial bug it won't behave the same. And CUDA has the _best_ of these next generation toolchains. Until you have real debugging and profiling capabilities, even the best programmers won't be able to reach the level of productivity they can on more mature platforms...

  • by drinkypoo (153816) <martin.espinoza@gmail.com> on Sunday March 01, 2009 @03:38PM (#27031931) Homepage Journal

    They did this same strategy with the PS2 and its emotion engine or whatever. I remember after about a year, hearing about how these first gen games still hadn't even used a good hunk of the PS2's power. Well, if you look at some of the games that came out over the next few years, I'd say they were right!

    Then I'd say you have to be an idiot to buy the PS3 until near the end of its lifespan, when the games are good, and the system is cheaper and has hopefully had most of the bugs worked out. Hell, if they continue to follow the PS2 model to the letter (so far, so good - they lied about the specs, lied about the release, brought out a system with a high failure rate... though not as high as Microsoft's, and made it hard to develop games for it) then they'll bring out a smaller, cooler version and everyone with a first-generation PS3 is really going to be kicking their own ass.

    It's interesting that Sony won their position at the top of the heap by making it easy to develop games on the original Playstation, and kicked the Sega Saturn's ass handily, mostly because it was much much harder to code for. Then they brought out the most complicated and wonky game console ever, which would have needed only a crappy development system with no documentation to be Sega Saturn MkII, while Sega brought out the relatively elegant and quite capable Dreamcast, only to have it murdered by Sony outright lying about the PS2's specifications and the console's lack of hardware-based DRM (seriously. at least on the Saturn you have to plug in a modchip, on the PS1 it's a pretty serious job and on the PSOne it's a terrible one. If you aren't exceptionally nimble-fingered, anyway.)

    If games for the Xbox 360 are already at their best, and games for the PS3 aren't, why on earth would I buy a PS3 now?

  • by Rallion (711805) on Sunday March 01, 2009 @11:58PM (#27036181) Journal

    Though what you describe is quite common, there are an increasing number of counter-examples. By all accounts, Mass Effect is better on the PC than on the XBox, because they actually improved the interface. (I only played the XBox version myself, so I can't speak to that myself.) Mirror's Edge has better physics capabilities on PC. And I just downloaded and played through the new PC demo of The Last Remnant, a game that was panned for its technical problems when released on the console, but it ran beautifully on my computer.

    It looks like what's happening in a lot of cases is that developers go to consoles first, because that's where the most money is. But if that console is the 360, they practically already have a PC game made. The 'porting' ends up being a process of not simply making it work, but of making improvements, tailoring it to the platform, and taking advantage of the extra opportunities offered by a keyboard/mouse interface or increased memory or more powerful graphics cards. (And then the PC version is usually $10 cheaper. Hah!)

    Obviously, GTAIV does not fit this description, which makes me glad I have the 360 version. However, I did get the PC version of Fallout 3, which was supposedly not even designed with a specific platform in mind; yet, along with what seems like half the people playing it on the PC, I'm having horrendous stability issues with it. Every time I shoot an enemy for the first time, there's about a 1/10 chance the game will crash, and that's just one trigger among many. And of course Bethesda has, again, relied on the mod community to make their interface less huge and obnoxious. Really, guys? You have a third of my screen, and we can only fit three lines of text there at a time, and then not even let me use the scroll wheel to move through them?

    So, yeah, crappy ports exist. They're common, even. Mentally, I still file the word 'port' somewhere next to 'crap'. But that might be starting to change a bit.

  • by atraintocry (1183485) on Monday March 02, 2009 @12:47AM (#27036617)

    Offtopic: part of the reason that 8- and 16-bit era games got better towards the end of their systems' lives was because (a) as the price of ROM memory fell, you could squeeze in better graphics, (b) cartridge-based games means you can augment the console by putting a coprocessor right on the game board. The first one was especially pronounced with the NES, the second with the SNES. Sega took the opposite path, releasing new hardware every other week, and to nobody's surprise but theirs, they no longer sell hardware.

    Sure, part of it is better engines and better coding practices, but IMO the effect is a lot less dramatic with today's consoles.

    On-topic: Sony's always had the power to prevent undesirable studios from making games. All they have to do is refuse to sell them the license. They have always had that control. Doing it through the API is phenomenally stupid and I have to assume that Sony is just lying here. The reality is most likely that the designers didn't do enough to make accessing hardware functions easy or elegant, and Sony wants to spin the studios' complaints into something that points to the system having increased quality.

  • Simply not true. (Score:2, Informative)

    by bhpaddock (830350) on Monday March 02, 2009 @01:33AM (#27036977) Homepage

    You seem to be missing the point. It's not just hard to "take full advantage" of the PS3, it's hard to make the damn thing work at all.

    You mentioned HDR, something that Xbox developers take for granted since they have 3 different ways of doing it, all which are easy and which given them different performance / quality trade-offs.

    Not only is it *harder* to do HDR on the PS3, but the PS3 simply doesn't have the memory bandwidth to accommodate HDR without sacrificing in several other areas (resolution, FSAA, texture size and filtering, etc). Whereas the 360 allows you to balance out the resolution, level of HDR, level of FSAA, texture size, etc - the PS3 lets you pick one. Because if you want 1080p there's no way in hell you're getting any HDR, FSAA, or anything else that requires memory bandwidth.

    That's why games look and run better on the 360. Even in the rare cases where one aspect (like, say, HDR) looks a little better on the PS3, it always sacrifices in other areas, resulting in a better experience on the 360. Even if you could eek out some minuscule visual advantage from the PS3 (good luck), no one is going to care. That's not why people buy games.

  • by pegasustonans (589396) on Monday March 02, 2009 @01:23PM (#27041783)

    Besides, the PS3 is seriously lagging behind the 360 as far as games go. For the most part, the 360 has better games, better graphics, and better online play.

    I'm tired of people dragging out this three-year-old argument. It's simply not true.

    If Killzone 2 isn't enough to convince you that the consoles are an even playing-field, then how about these PS3 exclusives:

    Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots
    LittleBigPlanet
    Resistance: Fall of Man
    Resistance 2
    Warhawk
    Ratchet and Clank Future: Tools of Destruction
    Heavenly Sword
    Folklore
    Uncharted: Drake's Fortune
    Gran Turismo 5: Prologue
    MotorStorm
    MotorStorm: Pacific Rift
    Valkyria Chronicles
    Wipeout HD
    Flower

    Perpetuating the fallacy that the 360 has better graphics is so 2006. I own both consoles and can honestly say that there are no differences worth mentioning in any worthwhile games over the past year.

  • by default luser (529332) on Tuesday March 03, 2009 @12:56PM (#27052707) Journal

    But you just can't do that anymore, and still expect developers to hang-on tight. Let's look at the progression.

    PlayStation: one of the easiest consoles to develop for at the time of release. Featured a single beefy processor, and a simple ploygon-based 3D rendering pipeline (minus a few features). Long-term improvement: people decried the CD media for it's slow load times, but then developers learned to stream data off the CD, making later games more fluid and much more immense.

    PlayStation 2: more difficult to develop for because the dual vector units VU0 and VU1 were the source of most of the system's computational power. Developers, however, could start-out just using the main CPU for game engine, and the vector units for serial graphics processing only, and still unlock about %60-70 of the system's potential power. Stepping-up to use of the dual vector units provided a decent late-game improvement.

    PlayStation 3: much more difficult to program for than any previous console. Just for reference, if you took a program parallized to work well on the PS2, and just ported it wholesale to the PS3, you would only unlock about %20 of the performance potential of the PS3. Pathetic. The difficulty of fully-harnessing the PS3 is already made clear in the article above, and some developers may never be able to, as you may not be able to split your game's threadas eight-ways.

    There's "building potential" into the system, and then there's the PS3. The costs of unlocking the PS3's potential are too high for most developers, especially if they're making a multi-platform release (where you can't re-use most of the optimizations made for the PS3). You can only charge so much on a game before customers won't pay the toll.

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