Cerny: Full hardware capabilities of PS4 may take 'three to four years' to be harnessed

PS4 architect says that while the system is easy to begin working on, the hardware's full potential won't be accessed until 'year three or year four'.

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PlayStation 4 lead architect Mark Cerny believes that while PlayStation 4 developers are already quickly adapting to content creation for the new system, the real customisation and utilisation of the machine's true power won't be until "year three or year four of the console".

In an interview with Polygon during Gamescom, Cerny outlined the need to create an obvious visual gap between the capabilities of current and next-generation systems.

"We set our target at 10 times the PlayStation 3's performance, because that's what we felt we needed to achieve in order to differentiate the titles," Cerny told the website. "When I did pitches to developers about the hardware, I talked about what I call the Akihabara test. Akihabara is an electronics district in Tokyo, it's just full of stores where you can buy just about anything you plug into a wall socket. I knew that at some point, there'd be out on the sidewalk a PlayStation 3 and PlayStation 4, and they might even be showing the same game, and the PlayStation 4 had to be powerful enough that when people walked by, they had to look at the PlayStation 4 and say, 'Wow, I have to have that.'

"I believe we are at that level of performance," Cerny said. "I mean, the million pre-orders we have is, I think, speaking to that."

Cerny went on to say that while the PS4's new architecture is already familiar to develop for given its PC similarities, it will still be three to four years before the real capabilities of the system are identified and harnessed.

"It's a supercharged PC architecture, so you can use it as if it were a PC with unified memory," he said. "Much of what we're seeing with the launch titles is that usage; it's very, very quick to get up to speed if that's how you use it. But at the same time, then you're not taking advantage of all the customisation that we did in the GPU. I think that really will play into the graphical quality and the level of interaction in the worlds in, say, year three or year four of the console."

The PlayStation 4 goes on sale on November 15 in North America, and November 29 for Europe, the UK, and Australia. The device will launch in 32 countries globally this year.

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