PlayStation 3? Xbox 360? Boring! According to Square-Enix’s worldwide technology director, Julien Merceron:
We have Sony and Microsoft talking about this generation lasting seven, eight, nine or even ten years and it’s the biggest mistake they’ve ever made.
Speaking with GamesIndustry, Merceron had some big things to say about Microsoft and Sony’s business decisions, and the state of the industry. He’s of the opinion that long console generations are actually a bad thing, and went on to explain himself:
There are two aspects to hardware. When hardware is too complex to target, it leads to a smaller number of titles available for launch, and with fewer titles you end up not being able to sell your platform really well, so you actually start with a big disadvantage.
PS3 and 360 haven’t found a way to be as successful as the PS2 was. On the other hand, if you have complex hardware, although you have problems at the beginning, you do have potentially better longevity for your platform because every year quality is going to increase as developers find out all the optimizations they can use. But with a simple architecture, you give more chances to everybody, which I believe is very important based on the critical business situation we’re in. Games will be more costly. If you start to make the entry bar really high, more studios will die, more publishers will die, there’ll be less titles on platforms, etc.
If you make it accessible, you give more chances to people, you’ll have a better portfolio at launch, but now you also have a problem with your longevity. Studios could be 80 percent perfect one year after the console has shipped, so games for years afterwards will look the same. Now, I would say that this is not a problem anymore. It was a problem in the generation of offline platforms. Now you don’t need to manage longevity by complexity of programming, because your longevity is ensured by your online model. And I would suggest that maybe we don’t want long generations.
There’s certainly some truth to what he says, and developing a new console is always a major headache for any company. Make it too complex, and it drives developers away. Make it too simple, and nobody will want to develop for it, either.
Merceron isn’t the only one thinking of the future. Square-Enix recently released a tech demo for their new Luminous engine, which reflects their readiness to move on to the next generation of consoles already. Square-Enix’s chief technical officer, Yoshihisa Hashimoto, has come out and said that they’re definitely intending to use the Luminous engine for some of their next gen games.
So, what do you think of all this? Let us know in the comments.