PS4 designer knew in 2007 that PS3 'clearly had some issues'

Mark Cerny says Sony understood shortly after PS3 launch that company needed to make future platform more developer-centric.

PlayStation 4 lead system architect Mark Cerny knew in 2007 that "clearly we had some issues with the PlayStation 3," he told Gamasutra this week. That's the time when, just a year after the PS3 shipped, he began to read up about the X86 processor, the unit that ended up being incorporated into the next-gen system announced in New York City last month.

"The biggest thing was that we didn't want the hardware to be a puzzle that programmers would be needing to solve to make quality titles," Cerny said, referring to the PS3's Cell processor that was powerful but often described as difficult to work with.

In 2008, Cerny began meeting with developers, asking them what they would like to see from a future PlayStation platform. He said he had to handle these discussions delicately. "It's not like we could come out and say we were developing the next generation of hardware; we certainly couldn't say that in 2008."

The PS4 has yielded praise from high-profile developers since its announcement. Gearbox Software CEO Randy Pitchford said last week that he is "really excited" about the platform, celebrating Sony for inviting Gearbox to the table to brainstorm ideas for the PS4.

Meanwhile, id Software veteran John Carmack said he is pleased with the PS4 system specs. In addition, Avalanche Studios cofounder Linus Blomberg said the PS4 will outpower most PCs for years to come.

The PS4 will launch this holiday season, though Sony has yet to reveal price or region availability details for the next-generation platform.

Written By

Eddie Makuch is a news editor at GameSpot, and would like to see the Whalers return to Hartford.

Discussion

148 comments
warhawk-geeby
warhawk-geeby

WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!

That is all.  Hurry up already Sony!

Justforfun44
Justforfun44

Yes the PS4 will be more powerful than 2 year old systems still running. However, modern Intel i7 systems with advanced graphics cards will easily outpace the PS4. Many AMD systems will also be more powerful than the consoles. For a short time the Xbox 360 and PS3 had advanced features not present in PC's, but within months multi-core CPU's and advanced GPU's allowed the PC to pull ahead. I doubt very much the PS4 or the 720 will have top of the line CPU/GPU performance. This doesn't mean they will not be great, but they will not crunch the numbers like an advanced PC. Of course to get top of the line PC gaming performance you will pay dearly. You can invest in all the consoles and still only meet the basic cost of a powerful gaming PC. Frankly anyone willing to spend thousands of dollars for a gaming PC is a fool. Anyone that is hung up on how many frames per second can be displayed is a sucker waiting to be fleeced. Even now the 360 and PS3 can still deliver good games with excellent imagery. Graphics do not make the game. For example Minecraft is a huge hit, but I don't think the graphics are advanced. On the other hand Bioshock Infinite pushes the consoles to the point of stumbling according to the reviewers. The designers comment is true, but self serving because he doesn't count the large number of PC's that are superior to consoles.  

TurboGuru
TurboGuru

Of course they knew before... all they cared about was winning the HD format wars with Bluray, thus the PS3 was their trojan horse....

....Bluray entertainment device first, game console second.

farcorners
farcorners

were they not saying PS3 was a ten year system, while developing their next console, two years into it?

naryanrobinson
naryanrobinson

In before; "PS5 designer knew in 2013 that PS4 'clearly had some issues'".

EKGProd
EKGProd

PS3 is hard to develop for, no doubt about that, but boy that system is powerful when someone actually taps it for everything its got. Look at Beyond: Two Souls or The Last of Us. It may be 7 years old, but when a great dev squeezes that system, it still pushes out graphics that stand tall next to anything on the PC. 

PC gamers aren't going to like that, but it is true. Just look at some footage of those two games. You can't deny it. The PC would be able to run them at higher resolutions, but that's about it. 

themyth01
themyth01

And now Sony comes out with all the dirty stuff on PS3, fun stuff. 

SteamyPotatoes
SteamyPotatoes

Yup the PS3 architecture was a bad idea anyone saying otherwise is a fanboy or an idiot.

Gabe Newell: PS3 "a waste of everybody's time"

DrKill09
DrKill09

No it didn't.

1. It's failure rate was very low except for those horrid 40gb models.  Just look at the 360's 100% failure rate until the new models came out.  The ones with SIDE VENT HOLES. lol.

2. Great for movie file and audio playback.

3. Easily upgradable hard drive 

strategos777
strategos777

Funny this is, SEGA took the same approach with the Dreamcast in 1999. And we all know how incredibly successful THAT was. 

Developers love to whine and complain. Then, when you give them what they ask for they betray your trust to go after another platform that's HARDER to develop for.

PernicioEnigma
PernicioEnigma

This article makes it sound as though the lead system architect for the PS3 didn't even know what an X86 processor was till 2007, which is absurd, surely.

ghostXzero
ghostXzero

the use of arcane technology like the cell processor was the japanese companies' attempt of tying games to their japanese hardware and making them hard to port.  but thanks to xbox 360's popularity, their strategy didn't work.  and now we have so many multiplatform games on the PC--which is great. 

1wikkid1
1wikkid1

"Gearbox Software CEO Randy Pitchford said last week that he is "really excited" about the platform" Interesting, the previous article I read had somebody from Gearbox(could be the same person even) say that PS4 is "meh"(yes, that is a direct quote.) And I'm pretty sure the article was from the same writer... so which is then?

@Chaos_Dante_456 There isn't really anything holding developers back from porting TES and Fallout to the consoles right now... the thing is that consoles are simply not suitable for this type of game. It would be hellish having to navigate the menus and control the characters using the controllers. And on top of that, these games are VERY community driven... and I think this is the real issue with releasing them on console. Consoles are more of a closed ecosystem, where you can't just mess around with the files and substitute things in and out easily. Personally I would not be interested in either TES or Fallout if there was no way to easily(this part is important too) mod the game and use said mods.

Chaos_Dante_456
Chaos_Dante_456

I wonder if the Elder Scrolls and Fallout games will be easier to port to the ps4 

Daemoroth
Daemoroth

All hail Captain Hindsight with his 3 best friends: Coulda, Woulda and Shoulda!!!

PS - Extra points if you recognise the reference (Though it is a pretty modern one).

horizonwriter
horizonwriter

@Justforfun44 I think you misinterpreted the statement that the PS4 will out power most PCs.  Keep in mind that most PC's aren't high-end gaming computers.  They're mostly mid-range and below so this statement is actually pretty true. Now if someone would have said something along the lines of "The PS4 will be able to go toe-to-toe with high end PC's for years to come" then there would be a problem.

russiaAK47
russiaAK47

@Justforfun44 go play tow-truck simulator on your $2000 rig LOL.  all the best games are on consoles

warhawk-geeby
warhawk-geeby

@Justforfun44

I saw your comment and all I could see was the words 'PC'..

Dayyymmmmmm son.  7 altogether! That's quite a feat!

harold317
harold317

@TurboGuru The truth right there! Weird how quickly everyone forgot about the HD-DVD x Bluray war...

KBABZ
KBABZ

@farcorners Consoles are often developed over extremely long-term timelines these days. Microsoft was probably looking into the next Xbox back in 2006, but again being long-term that development wasn't intended to bear fruit until much later.

e1tonka
e1tonka

@EKGProd Ps3 games at their best are not even close to a high end pc. But they're great either way. You just may have seen shitty pcs.

nnyarach
nnyarach

@EKGProd Lolz do u know multi-platform games lead platform is the weakest of the bunch? Know your facts before you talk $HIT. And yes a true pc game looks way better. I am just happy the next gen is up and the weakest platforms level is at least better.

JimmeyBurrows
JimmeyBurrows

@SteamyPotatoes It could be useful for those that developed for it... How much better are they at problem solving now that they've worked with shit? 

Not 100% wasted time.

EKGProd
EKGProd

@SteamyPotatoes 

True, but he did do a 180 after that, admitted he was wrong, and then brought Steam functionality to the PS3 with Portal 2. So...

inaka_rob
inaka_rob

@DrKill09 ROFL. did you even read the article. they are not talking about hardware failure rates. or the size of the HD. I have had my xbox for 6 years and havent upgraded my HD. who cares. GREAT for movie file and audio playback. so  is the 360. and MP is better on the 360. and the 360 has cross game chat which is AMAZING. 

I am not trying to start a flame war. I love my ps3. your just being an idiot fan boy. It is FACT that the ps3 was harder to program for. you have people from INSIDE sony admiting this. what do you mean "no it didnt"

DrKill09
DrKill09

@strategos777  Actually, the Dreamcast did quite well.  Sega were just hemorrhaging money.

YoungCardinal
YoungCardinal

@1wikkid1@Chaos_Dante_456 

There were still obstacles for developers porting games this generation. All three major platforms had different hardware architecture. The PC was x86, the 360 was an IBM PowerPC based  architecture and the PS3 was the Cell Processor.

Adding support and mappings for peripheral devices (controllers) is not that hard. 

TES and Fallout are complex games, and now that the next-gen of consoles look to all be x86 based (pending 720 confirmation), this will make development much easier and developers can focus on a single architecture and put more time and effort into optimizing RPG's menu systems - hopefully they got some ideas from Skyrim modders :).


Zloth2
Zloth2

@Chaos_Dante_456 One would hope.  And with all this talk of sharing, who knows?  Maybe you'll even get an ability to mod the game.

Maybe.

JimmeyBurrows
JimmeyBurrows

@russiaAK47@Justforfun44 I don't get it... He didn't insult anything, just because you saw "PC" you assume he's a fanboy?

"Frankly anyone willing to spend thousands of dollars for a gaming PC is a fool." 

Maybe invest in some reading classes?

EKGProd
EKGProd

@nnyarach @EKGProd I've been gaming for 25 years. I've been building PC's since you've been in diapers. Yeah, I know my stuff, and I stand by what I said. 

EKGProd
EKGProd

@kidnatural @EKGProd Like I said, anything running at full 1080 will look better. However, if The Last of Us or Beyond: Two Souls were running in 1080, they'd look just as good as any of those videos. 

Which is my point. The PS3 can push out graphics as pretty as what you see here. The reason is because the PC is an open system, while consoles are a closed system. With a closed system, you can optimize the thing to death. This is why Launch games for consoles always look gorgeous compared to PC games, even though PC's are technically more powerful.

When developing a PC game, they have to account for a thousand different configurations. On a console, they don't have to do that. Whose going to win a race, the guy with the fastest care, but doesn't know the roads whatsoever, or the guy who knows the roads like the back of his hands? 


SteamyPotatoes
SteamyPotatoes

@EKGProd Indeed but wasn't the greatest start hehe ;), PS4 should be a better launch and keep devs happy :)

strategos777
strategos777

Now that's a WHOLE other conversation. I disagree. SEGA did not do "quite well". They left the console race after what just about everyone called a spectacular commercial failure (despite having some the greatest games ever made for the system). After just a year and a half SEGA literally couldn't GIVE AWAY Dreamcast consoles. This was a result of developer abandonment (EA and Squaresoft made zero games for the system to name just a few high profiles) and a massive marketing push by SONY. At launch the Playstation 2 was wildly inferior in every way save one (it has a DVD Drive). But brand loyalty (a joke if every there was one) combined with no games by the kings of Sports and RPGs, and enormous advertising for the PS2 killed the Dreamcast before it even had a chance. 

I still with my earlier statement. SEGA did everything right to make a system that the devs would love that would be insanely easy to develop games for, and they DELIBERATELY chose to pursue game-making for SONY instead (which back then had notoriously difficult hardware to program for). 

The lesson? Make it easy to develop for if you want, but there is ZERO business reason to do so. Developers follow the money, not a system that's a joy to program for and play games on. They'd develop for a brick instead of a super-computer if that's what consumers were buying.

1wikkid1
1wikkid1

@YoungCardinal @1wikkid1 @Chaos_Dante_456 There are always obstacles, but the ones you speak of with the different architectures and such is simply something they have to work around, no other way. But the mod support while possible(maybe?) would be hellish to implement, of course architecture being a part of that as well, but more then that is that consoles are just not suitable for that type of content. They use different formats and processes then PC, and modders all work on PCs... Personally I don't see why consoles even exist these days, all they(MS, Sony) are trying to do is give their consoles more features that PCs already have while at the same time changing it enough to make it a whole different ecosystem. PCs are far superior in just about every respect, but that's a whole 'nother conversation.

powerman1426
powerman1426

@Zloth2 @Chaos_Dante_456 Great thought, mods would be a welcome addition. If such a thing were to come to pass that would be fantastic. Unfortunately, i fear it would come to too many fingers in the pie. PSN, XboxLive, all would need to approve and want a cut. 

horizonwriter
horizonwriter

@Justforfun44 @horizonwriter First, "they" weren't bragging about anything.  The comment was made by a representative of Avalanche Studios which is a third party, not Sony or one of their first party studios/developers, so "they" have nothing to boast about as it's not their property. Secondly, the statement was more directed towards mid-level pc's, not low-end, but I also don't disagree with you in that it's nothing to hype.  Third, you're comment (or at least the beginning of it) made mention of the relevance of the PS4 compared to contemporary and up coming processors and graphics cards which is what I was referring to, not bragging rights.  Judging by your original meandering paragraph though I can see how it's tough for you to stay on point...

EKGProd
EKGProd

@nnyarach @EKGProd 

"n00b"? "lolz"? "25years"? Aren't you ashamed of yourself for writing like that? Here's a little advice. If you want anyone, anywhere to take you or your opinion seriously, learn spelling and sentence structure. 

It might be a good idea to do that before replying to someone, otherwise you end up looking like a child throwing a temper tantrum. Which, I can only assume, is exactly what you are/doing. 

nnyarach
nnyarach

@EKGProd @nnyarach You must be a n00b when its comes to this lolz. 25years its a shame you learned nothing during that time.

vel0001
vel0001

@e1tonka 1080p looks a hell lot different even on 5 inches if you're looking close to it (resolution is "relative" to viewing distance too).

e1tonka
e1tonka

@EKGProd wrong. 1080p looks no different under 32 inches. Resolution is relative to screen size.

ps3 graphics are great but at their best do not come close to any PC. It is a fact that you can't change no matter how many paragraphs you write.

kidnatural
kidnatural

@EKGProd I'm very well of the differences between a PC and a console. PCs typically start off with significantly more overhead to begin with. All of that stuff I'm aware of.

My comment was addressing "The PC would be able to run them at higher resolutions, but that's about it."

This appears to insinuate that if they made this game exclusively for PC, it would look exactly same - benefiting only from a higher resolution. I don't necessarily believe you think that's true. The PS3 may be highly optimized but its best won't outperform what's best on PC - the PS3 doesn't have the computing power. It would have to sacrifice in areas to alleviate some of the visual differences. Draw distances would be scaled back. The amount of sound being processed and output will take a step back. Physics scale down. Texture quality would acheive a minimal upgrade but the lighting and scope allowance will be toned down on the console exclusive version.

So I posted the GTA4 video in particular to show what a PC 'can' do. The PS3, regardless of having some great programmers messing with it, can't process that much as that level of detail. Which in turn shows what they 'would' be able to do with a PC exclusive of these said games. Essentially stating that PC would only be able to produce higher resolutions of the same thing, isn't the case. It can be said that it's likely a PC exclusive of this same game would look 'somewhat' the same, because that's true. It's only going to improve so much, and the graphics based on what they're limiting to your view already look good, but it could look better, and that game on PC, would be capable of a fair amount more - even despite all the configurations out there, and how they'll budget creating it for whatever level of hardware.

harold317
harold317

@strategos777 The part about Sega not even being able to GIVE AWAY DC's is major bull***, yes they did had a promotion in which you could get a free DC, but only if you would sign up for a TWO year contract of Sega's own internet service Seganet which was like $25 a month (for 56k)...do the math, it's no wonder it didn't took off. The DC sold respectably well but unfortunately not enough to cover Sega's monstrous failures of the late 90s.