Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Kaz Hirai : Sony Intentionally Made the PS3 Hard To Program For

As a programmer myself, I can't believe what I just read about the Playstation 3. Apparently, Sony intended to make the PS3 hard to program for, so that it would have a longer life cycle in the market....

Yes, that's his logic.

And I quote...

He also took on frequent accusations that the challenges developers often find in programming for the PS3 represent an obstacle for the console.

"We don't provide the 'easy to program for' console that [developers] want, because 'easy to program for' means that anybody will be able to take advantage of pretty much what the hardware can do, so then the question is what do you do for the rest of the nine-and-a-half years?"

Hirai suggested the PS3 would see the same kind of software evolution curve that the PlayStation 2 did, as represented by the fact that God of War 2 was noticeably more sophisticated than its predecessor on the same console.

"So it's a kind of - I wouldn't say a double-edged sword - but it's hard to program for, and a lot of people see the negatives of it, but if you flip that around, it means the hardware has a lot more to offer," he said.

I still can't believe that they're PROUD of this. I had to take a screenshot of it from Gamasutra just to be sure I wasn't losing my mind:

So, waitaminute....for Sony today, it's better to have a console that's hard to make games for? So, they're assuming that gamers are eager to wait years and years for games [that take advantage of the PS3's capabilities] to get released in the market?

Have they LOST their MINDS???

Isn't it better to have a console that's easy to make games for, so that you can make more games for it? The more games that get released for a platform, the better it is for gamers. Because there's a lot more games to choose from, and developers are enabled to focus more on their creativity instead of wrestling with intricacies of game hardware.

If this is the thinking that's running Sony Computer Entertainment today, I wouldn't be surprised if they disappear from the hardware business entirely in the next five years, much like SEGA did a few years ago. In the past, SEGA released the SEGA SATURN which was known for its notoriously difficult learning curve [in terms of programmability]. The Saturn suffered from a very weak library of games because of this, and in turn, this served to taint Sega's reputation with gamers for a very long time. This is also the reason why the Dreamcast was ill received in most markets worldwide [thus causing SEGA to exit the hardware market completely].

And now, with Sony we're witnessing history repeat itself. Maybe there will be a game that will come along that will change the PS3's fortunes. Who knows. But after reading that interview, I'm inclined to think that the Playstation 3 has no future.


Time for some constructive criticism.

Yes, I own a Playstation 3. I'm hoping it will prove its worth someday. Well, Ridge Racer 7 is proving to be a bit of fun; I also enjoyed Ratchet and Clank and Little Big Planet, for whatever that's worth. It's just that Sony's statements about themselves is worrying about the platform. In the end, developers support the platform with the most installed base; it's a simple and hard fact. Installed base grows because of game library; and you CAN'T have a big game library if developers can't figure out your hardware.

So Kaz and the rest of the management team at Sony have to start figuring that out. They have to HELP developers make games for the Playstation 3. If they want to catch up (and it will be really, really hard to do that), they have to make the development path easier for developers, get a more diverse set of EXCLUSIVE titles for their platform, and make their console worth having.

If they don't get to work soon, we may never see a Playstation 4.

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