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Sony says PS3 Intentionally Hard for Developers

By - Source: Tom's Hardware UK | B 12 comments
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One would figure that creating a positive environment for game developers to work inside would lead to the best results, but Sony appears to be thinking counter to the logic.

In an interview with the Official PlayStation Magazine, and transcribed by Eurogamer, SCEI head Kazuo Hirai said that the PlayStation 3 was intentionally designed to be a difficult platform for developers to work on. Wait, what?

"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?" explained Hirai.

He added, "So it's a kind of - I wouldn't say a double-edged sword - but it's hard to program for, and a lot of people see the negatives of it, but if you flip that around, it means the hardware has a lot more to offer."

Interestingly enough, the original PlayStation had a reputation for being relatively easy for programmers to get their concepts running, especially at a time when the games industry was moving from 2D to 3D. The PlayStation 2, on the other hand, was a difficult platform to work with, especially when compared to the Dreamcast, GameCube and Xbox.

Hirai does point out that having a difficult platform does allow the user to see some real growth over the lifespan of the console. The original launch games for PlayStation 2 look pathetic when put up against ones made during the console’s twilight moments. But is that necessarily a good thing for either developers -- who have to spend more time and resources in realizing their designs -- or for the gamer -- who has to wait years before getting just what he or she fully wanted out of the “next generation” platform?

Sony seems to be going backwards with the PS3 lately, recently claiming that the PS3 is still for early adoptors, and now the PS3 is intended to be difficult to program for. Do you think Sony took the right approach? The market sales doesn't think so. However, if you're a PS3 owner, are you happy with your system? Or do you own multiple consoles and spend more time on something other than the PS3?

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  • 1 Hide
    Touche36 , 23 January 2009 17:35
    "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 ?"

    If Kazuo Hirai truly believes this, then he is either incredibly stupid, or he thinks his audience is incredibly stupid (or gullible).

    What you do for the rest of the nine and a half years is simply make great games - and don't waste time and resources on getting to grips with the architecture.
  • 1 Hide
    Touche36 , 23 January 2009 17:47
    Oh, and I forgot to say I own a PS3 and think it has the best hardware (Blu-Ray, wireless, easy hard disk upgrade, noise, reliability), but the 360 has the best software (Live etc.). There's not much difference in the games at the moment, and I doubt there will be for many titles in the future due to the extra development costs for a higher quality release, but we may see occasional titles that look better on the PS3 as time goes on (Killzone 2 ?) I had a 360 but sold it after it got repaired (due to the RROD), but will be getting another one when the Jasper models become available (hopefully with better reliability).
  • 1 Hide
    waxdart , 23 January 2009 18:23
    Intentionally Hard for Developers? So they had an easy version and then spent a lot of time and money thinking about how to make it harder?

    Or they made a system and didn't want to spend the extra to make it easy and thought nah - let them suffer, cost too much to add easy of use?

    And what would we gain? Its not like the first year of great games helps any sell consoles and build a commanding market share.
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  • 1 Hide
    LePhuronn , 23 January 2009 20:38
    Idiotic, simply idiotic.

    I love my PS3 and stand by my choice, but I have real differences in the quality of games, presumably because of this "difficulty" in working with the system, which in turn shows up the talent (or lack therefo) of the developers.

    If Gran Turismo 5 Prologue is photo-real and LittleBigPlanet looks almost tangible at 1080p, there's no reason for Smackdown vs Raw 2009 to look so amateur and last-gen, unless THQ aren't very good at working with the PS3 system.

    I don't want to see improvement in my games over time, I want the best the kit can offer from the start, especially as it hampers sales so much - how many times in the early days did we see 360 fanbois screaming about how awful the PS3 was because "it looks so poor"? They were right, despite the fact the PS3 has superior hardware and design, and as a result no gamers bought the PS3.

    Now, we're seeing PS3 software start to outstrip 360 software, and in another year it will leave everything in the dust, but it's all going to be too little, too late.
  • 1 Hide
    waxdart , 23 January 2009 20:51
    LePhuronn > No you wont see the PS3 outstrip the 360. For the same reason you don’t see the PC outstrip them both. The design is done to the lowest denominator and to the system that will generate a company the most cash.

    I own and PS3 and a good games PC and it all looks like 360 stuff to me. Very sad as we both know they can do so much more.
  • 2 Hide
    Anonymous , 23 January 2009 21:21
    I agree with waxdart. As a pc gamer im often finding that games which originated on the consoles (or more specifically the xbox360) before being ported to the pc often do not take full advantage of the hardware pc's have to offer because the xbox's aren't powerful enough. Either that or the developers have to spend an extra half a year developing the game to work well on the pc by which time everyone else will have played the game on consoles and it will be old news.
  • 1 Hide
    wild9 , 23 January 2009 21:31
    I'm sorry, but I fail to see the benefits of such a 'closed' system, especially given the potential growth areas such as GPGPU processing. Remember the Amiga? Kids were programming games, demos and business applications in their bedrooms, the same for the earlier Sinclair ZX Spectrum. Result? Huge support base and incredible software. I think that what Sony is really doing here is protecting it's own corporate image, as well as it it's relationship with sponsors. The PS3 is a good machine waiting for software to take advantage of it..but that's the trouble - in this day and age, waiting is not an option. Making a system deliberately difficult to develop for is short-sighted and selfish in my opinion. You can't control the market it's the other way round.
  • 0 Hide
    wild9 , 23 January 2009 21:36
    I think that these corporations are more interested in who's label is on the back of the case, rather than how good the games are. Recently, we've even seen political adverts for Obama in these games..morals have sunk to a new low.
  • 0 Hide
    MrSiko , 24 January 2009 04:18
    Next the guy will say

    'And we only added the blu-ray drive to hike up the cost, because we actually hate people buying these things because we lose so much on every single one we make'
  • 0 Hide
    Anonymous , 24 January 2009 06:46
    Shame many developers didn't and don't see things sonys way hence why so many games are going multi-platform. Come on, I like progress but this is ridiculous.

    I kind of, understand what he is saying tough. Still when everybody can produce a basic level/quality easily, then the differentiating factors will score and rate the titles. So you got a average resulting game, and spend whatever you can to improve the quality further to a point where the budget is still reasonable and you as a developer is happy with the product. This is how it should have been.

    As they make breakthroughs in graphics techniques etc. in the graphics field they always import these techniques to the consoles and so over the 9 year life things only get better and the development cost falls using third-party middle ware.

    I say these losers (sony) need to bring back their dad Ken kuturagi and listen to his Bulls***, he knows what he's on about.

    Was only looking to get a PS3 for FF13, but now that is gone multi. as well and I'm not interested in bluray so what's the point of a PS3? With the current credit uncertainty, I'd keep my cash in the pocket.
  • 0 Hide
    Anonymous , 25 January 2009 01:13
    Your missing the point :) 

    They dont want to sell shat loads of consoles. they LOOSE money on them.
    they rather you feel as locked into the hardware as the poor old devs that toil for years to learn the hardware.

    Then after all that effort learning. they can milk the devs with even more shtty deals selling the games.

    /Smile. Sony needs to think unless it wants to keep posting losses.

    Eventually Sony will realise that we can build a HTPC with blue ray drive (£57 currently for reader). So that is 1 less reason to buy a PS3.
  • 0 Hide
    Anonymous , 26 January 2009 23:46
    This guy is just trying to see the silver lining and not expressing himself very well or THG put a bit of a spin on the article.