PS4 will encourage a new age of more creative, diverse games because “the barrier to entry that existed on PS3 technologically is gone,” Mark Cerny has told us.
Speaking to us after his keynote address at Develop In Brighton 2013, PS4s lead system architect elaborated further on his belief that indies can inspire a creative renaissance in game development. In particular, he referenced the early days of PlayStation as a time in which quirkier games made by smaller teams could succeed both critically and commercially.
“I feel like the magical time was the early years of the PlayStation because there was such a variety of products coming out,” he told us. “There wasn’t this sort of consistent overarching pattern that you might have seen in the last few years in the PlayStation 3 generation, and I really think we’re heading back to that time. I think that’s a very good thing.”
He also described his time working in Atari’s arcade division, where originality was central to game design. “This is ancient history but if you look at the arcades around 1980 to 1982, the largest company in arcade games was Atari, and Atari had this philosophy that if it had ever been done before in any form, you could not do it again because that would be insufficiently creative,” Cerny told us. “So – the era’s a bit wrong, but – if anybody had ever made a Street Fighter, you couldn’t make a one-on-one fighting game. And so every game you created, you had to have new controls, a new concept. It needed to be an explosion of creativity, and I think much of what players felt about the arcades when they went in there in 1980 or 1982 was because of this philosophy that Atari had – but that was by no means the general industry philosophy.”
“If we look at the early years of the PlayStation, it had the same feeling,” he continued. “There was no rulebook, teams were small, projects were cheap – you could make a game for just a couple of hundred thousand dollars. So you saw things like Xi, which was solid in Europe as Devil Dice – a game with a little character on top of dice rolling around, Intelligent Qube, these were just somebody’s ideas of what a game could be. They finished them, they put them on retail, and they sold. It wasn’t this case where people are talking about how the middle of the market is dropping out a bit today, it isn’t the case where these games were made and did not succeed. Some of these games that were made by these tiny teams with these tiny budgets went on to be phenomenally successful.”
And PS4 will help the industry return to this ‘magical time,’ said Cerny. “The barrier to entry that existed on PS3 technologically is gone. If you can make games for PC, you can make games for PS4. So it’s much easier to bring games to the platform, or if you’re going to [develop] on the platform, it’s once again much easier.”
“On the business side, we’ve really challenged our approach towards smaller titles, I think successfully,” he added. “I wasn’t kidding in my [Develop keynote]. Your journey as an indie developer on PS4 really does start by tweeting Shahid Ahmad. That’s the way we do business now.”