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August 18, 2006

Why Do PS3 Screens Suck?

With Sony’s PS3 being released this fall, several screen shots have been released of upcoming games. These screens often leave gamers asking questions about why the screen shots are so unimpressive.

Thanks to Busted_Astromech at EvilAvatar for pointing out a series of possible explanations.

Option 1: The PS3 is underpowered
Highly unlikely considering what we have seen of the Metal Gear Solid trailer. Yet more and more screens and movies for the PS3 come out every day that look more than just a little assy and underwhelming. Perhaps the PS3's power is not easy to access compared to other consoles' power.

Option 2: The Game Is Too Early
If the game will end up looking wildly better, as in close to the 360 version, then why would any sane company release such early screen shots as part of a press release? Unlikely. I suspect what we see is close to the final version.

Option 3: Development Teams are Lacking
Likely considering what we have seen from other screens of other games. Apparently, only a few development studios can make great-looking games for the PS3 at this point. Perhaps it is difficult to program for the PS3 (see Option 1) or perhaps there aren't many programmers that know how to utilize the PS3 yet. It could be the PS3 team is lacking in key skills necessary to make a great PS3 game, even a port from a quality original.

2/3 of theese options bode poorly on the PS3. If the game screens are too early and not representing the final product, then it is nothing more than a blip, an anolomy. If the PS3 is underpowered, there will be obvious ramifications. If the port item is lacking, that could point to larger issues that may come back to bite the PS3 in the long haul. Let me explain…

If the PS3 is difficult to program for, difficult to learn or only a few people can really harness the power of the PS3 there will be lasting ramifications. Today, developers can develop for the PS3, 360 or Wii. 360 has a reportedly great series of development tools provided by Microsoft, the world’s biggest software developer. Wii development is reportedly based on GameCube, which has had development software available for more that 5 years. It would make sense from a development standpoint to develop games on cost efficient platforms, like the 360 and Wii, over the PS3.

From a publishing standpoint, publishers are more interested in making games that will make money. Xbox 360 already has an install base of 5 million. Wii will likely have 5 million installed base before the end of the year. PS3, with a high price tag, questionable production schedule and untested technology will have the least number of installed units until possibly holiday 2007. Why would developers or publishers spend the extra time and effort necessary to master the intricacies of PS3 development when their time, effort and money can more easily be used to create 360 and Wii games, that will be more profitable?

This precipitates a ‘downward spiral’ since the PS3 will end up with fewer titles. Fewer titles gives consumers fewer reasons to buy the console. Lower installed base gives developers and publishers fewer incentives to learn/master PS3 development.

We are already starting to see evidence of this as companies announce they are going to forego PS3 development or only develop limited PS3 titles while development of Wii games have taken off at an alarming rate. Wii has, in fact, at least 27 confirmed launch titles, more than any other console launch in history.


At August 20, 2006 8:37 PM, Blogger SuperTom said...

Well, you think, Sony know's what they are doing, otherwise why would they bet the perverbial farm on the PS3? I would say Sony is betting on it's laurels and the fack that they have full backward compatibility. Though, in order for the PS3 to become profitable like it's two older siblings, The are going to have to sell not only a ton of systems, but even more accessories and software, cause that's where the real money is.


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