PS4: Developers react

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It was, of course, simply a precursor to E3, designed to build anticipation for a more in-depth showing, but Sony’s PS4 reveal was notable for its generous doling out of revelations and game footage. As a result, the company appears to have won over game developers with its savvy, if not necessarily catchy, pitch.. Reaction online has inevitably been more mixed, but the general feeling among those who will be creating games for PS4 is that Sony is making all the right noises and, more importantly, fixing past ills.

“It was very encouraging to hear the developer- and consumer-friendly messaging,” says Eidos life president and UKIE board member. “Dumping the Cell processor and moving to a PC architecture with an X86-based CPU with 8GB super-fast system memory is great news for developers, and promises lightning-speed performance.

“The ‘Share’ button should be well-liked by gamers wanting to show off their realtime game footage with their friends. What we don’t know, and need to know soon, is how much will it cost, and the European street date. But overall it was a very positive announcement by Sony and should give everybody a great reason to go to E3 this year.”

Super Stardust and Dead Nation developer Housemarque was a huge advocate for PSN and Sony hardware in the current generation, and, as company CEO Ilari Kuittinen tells us, will continue to be so in the next.

“It was great to hear how focused Sony was on games during the PlayStation 4 announcement,” he says. “The new console sounds really developer friendly, and we believe that this time the console transition is much easier for many developers as you’re probably able to use a lot of your existing technology and tools instead of writing everything from the scratch.

“Having 16 times more memory than PlayStation 3 is also very helpful, and the extra horsepower the machine has can be used for creating new kinds of gameplay experiences that weren’t possible during the previous generation. We’re certainly looking forward to creating awesome challenges for the PlayStation 4 in the future.”

Frontier Developments founder David Braben was similarly impressed, though he criticised Sony’s decision to keep the actual hardware hidden away.

“It was exciting to watch the rollout of PS4 last night, and great to see Sony’s emphasis on developer support too,” he says. “Lack of pricing information is not unexpected at this stage, but I’m quite surprised they didn’t show a version of the box itself – psychologically it feels wrong, and more importantly it makes evangelism for the machine in the media harder.”

From all the coverage today, Sony’s clearly not wanting for press coverage. Though Braben’s concerns make sense, the major revision of the hitherto gently iterated Dual Shock controller probably offers enough iconic imagery for now.

Futurlab managing director James Marsden’s highlighted Sony’s apparently more open ethos for its new hardware – an ethos in stark contrast to the more locked-down strategies of its past.

“I thought Sony’s change of attitude toward their platform was most refreshing,” he says. “When PS3 launched, Sony’s firstparty publishing wouldn’t entertain the idea of funding 2D games on the system, let alone quirky indie games. Fortunately that attitude appears to have radically shifted, and bringing Jonathan Blow on stage to talk about his new game was very exciting.

“We’ve obviously benefitted from a great deal of support from PlayStation for our indie efforts, but the message has never taken centre stage like that before. It’s great to see. The support was pretty strong from third parties too; I sensed that those in console game production really want PS4 to succeed, ourselves included.”

As a result, he tells us, FuturLab will be registering for a PS4 licence today. Team Meat’s Edmund McMillen, however, is in less of a rush, but was similarly taken with Blow’s appearance.

“I didn’t even realise [the PlayStation Meeting] was happening till long after it was, if that says anything,” he admits, “and the only thing I saw of interest was The Witness. I thought that was a smart move on their part to get a timed exclusive for it because that games going to be a big one.

“Other than that its not something I’m super-excited about – if it turns out to be hugely popular I’ll develop for it. Honestly, all the new systems probably aren’t going to be super-exciting seeing as we are just inch worming when it comes to tech at this point in the game.

But what indies want is a strong digital platform that pushes digital downloads and makes it easy for devs to develop for – if the PS4 offers that, then its a good system for indies.”