While the confirmation that Sony’s next generation system will include 8GB GDDR5 RAM was met by rapturous applause during February’s big PlayStation 4 jolly-up, a laundry list of developers have hinted that the gigantic offering could lead to ‘lazy’ programming in a report published by VideoGamer.com.
"It could happen, I have to admit," said Eidos Montreal's Stephane Roy, who was keen to stress that younger developers are likely to be the biggest culprits. “Let's say you're a kid and you start on [the PS4], I have to admit that it's going to be really tough to convince them to be technically clean when they work, and optimisation and stuff like that.”
On current hardware, developers have been forced to optimise their code in order to get the best out of the relatively limited performance available. But with the shackles of the PS3’s comparatively laughable 512MB memory – divided between system and video – removed, programmers will be able to be a little more slapdash with their code. This, according to Avalanche Studios’ Linus Blomberg, is not necessarily a bad thing.
“It means that games that [don't] need to push technical boundaries will be easier and quicker to develop, for instance, most indie productions,” he explained. “For us, as a AAA open-world games developer, however, we must be very careful not to become sloppy. It's both a risk and an opportunity, depending on what kind of games you develop.”
Blomberg’s sentiment was mimicked by Just Add Water’s gaffer Stewart Gilray, who added that the same issue occurs at the start of every new generation. “We had the same problem going from PS1 to PS2, from 2MB to 32MB, then from 32MB to 256MB in PS3, and then on Vita you had 512MB, you know?” he said.
Gilray concluded that the best performance will come later in the generation, when developers are forced to optimise in order to improve their titles. “The first [method of] getting something out there, they say, 'How do we do that? Okay, we can make it better the next game.' And the more games that come out look better and better,” he concluded.
It’s certainly an interesting topic, and it makes you wonder just how good the visuals are going to look on Sony’s next generation system in a few years' time. For example, we never expected to be playing anything close to Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception back when the PS3 first launched, but iteration allowed Naughty Dog to squeeze every last drop out of the hardware. If the base is Killzone: Shadow Fall, then colour us extremely excited.