Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Sony, EA: Next gen consoles no time soon

The next generation of consoles might still be a few years off according to related comments by top Sony and EA execs. Until developers reach a technological and creative road block with current consoles, there is no need for another $400 console under their TVs.

"We do see healthy sales of software into those existing hardware platforms. It's the first-parties you have to discuss with when ‘a’, they think they can afford to come out with a new platform, but even more important, ‘b’, when they think a new platform will really offer something meaningful to the consumer,” said EA's European SVP Jens Uwe Intat to Eurogamer "The existing generation of consoles is actually technologically very advanced. They're still very capable machines. It's their call."
Nintendo is planning to release Wii’s successor in the second half of 2012. It’s been rumored that Microsoft is preparing to launch its new Xbox in 2013 with an E3 2012 reveal. Gamers have heard little on the Sony front beyond that the console may have built-in motion controls.
When Sony’s worldwide studios president Shuhel Yoshida was asked if gamers could expect PS4 sometime soon, he replied, “As far as we are concerned, we have no desire now to do that.”
This view stems from the fact that current consoles are still much more powerful 5-6 years into their lifecyle than the previous generation of consoles. Many developers and gamers haven’t expressed need yet for another new machine and are happy how current consoles are performing.
 "The existing generation of consoles is actually technologically very advanced. They're still very capable machines. It's their call,” Uwe Intat said.
"Gamers always need something new and more exciting. If they're seeing just similar types of games coming year after year, they will quickly lose their interest,” said Yoshida. "…there is a lot more we can do from the game development standpoint. So as long as we and our developers can create new experiences that are more exciting to consumers, I see no need to transition into newer generation."

Hardware manufacturers have to stay one step ahead of consumer demands and trends. Releasing new hardware requires long lead times and high R&D costs and timing can mean everything to a console. Gamers maybe satisfied now with current games, but their tastes are fickle; in two years that same feeling maybe long gone.

"Looking at the platform cycle, when the platform becomes something game developers are not able to improve their creation with, that’s the time we have to really seriously consider shifting to the next generation," Yoshida said.

The ground is beginning to rumble. A number of developers have told Eurogamer that they are reaching the limit of what the current generation can do in terms of technical performance, and with current levels of RAM. Also with many major franchises reaching their trilogy mark, this generation is cooling; just slower than in the past.

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