President of Sony Worldwide development studios Shuhei Yoshida was recently interviewed by Gamesindustry International to hear his thoughts on the state of the gaming industry. With the recent layoffs and closing of major publishers and development studios like THQ and Midway, many people believe that console gaming is coming to an end and that the attention of game developers is shifting to mobile, tablet, and PC platforms. President Yoshida believes that people are mistaken to consider the console is at fault, saying: "It's not the decline of consoles, it's the decline of a generation.”
"This generation has been the longest on the PS3 and the Xbox, it's the seventh year. In older times we would have launched a new system already. Really, developers hit the limits after a couple of games on the same system, typically.
"There are a few developers like Naughty Dog or Quantic Dream who are doing more, but that's kind of the exception. After you see the sequels to the same three games people feel like they've seen everything before. That's natural, but that's nothing like the end of the consoles."
Yoshida was then question on Sony’s plans for having a 10-year lifecycle for the PlayStation 4 and whether or not he is worried about encountering similar problems experience with the PlayStation 3, particularly console fatigue.
"It's very simple. When you look at the PlayStation 3, it is way, way better than the PS3 that came out in 2007. Because we're constantly improving and adding content and updates, through firmware or PSN updates. It's the same with PS Vita with new applications added. It's a constant evolution of the system even though the hardware remains exactly the same.
"It will be the same with the PlayStation 4,” reassures Yoshida, “We are launching this holiday, but we already have plans on the roadmap for additional features and improvements on the services side which will constantly evolve with time.
"The key to this on PS4 is we have a huge 8GB of memory. That's way more than game developers need initially. At the mid-point of the PlayStation 3 lifecycle we really hit the limit of what we can add in terms of system features. The reason we couldn't add cross-game voice chat that players wanted was we were out of memory. Because we have 8GB of RAM we can secure enough room for whatever great features developers can come up with."
Yoshida also believes that the addition of cloud gaming services will be vital in prolonging interest for next generation consoles. He believes that the acquisition of Gaikai will be invaluable for not only for the PlayStation 4’s planned decade of life, but for the entire PlayStation ecosystem.
"Cloud gaming services are launching next year in the US so PlayStation 4 and Vita users will be able to play PlayStation 3 catalogue games even though there's no native compatibility on the system itself. That's just one example of how we can improve the system.
"The PlayStation 4 is just one of the target devices. It's all about the cloud server. Our team in Gaikai and Sony Japan are working hard to provide the online game services, but it doesn't require the PS4 to enjoy those services. If you're a PS3 or a PS Vita user you can still enjoy the cloud services. So we're developing along that schedule, not necessarily trying to tie in with the PlayStation 4 schedule."
What do you think of President Suhei Yoshida’s view on the industry? Do you think consoles have a strong future ahead of them, or are they in decline like many believe? Will the extra horsepower in next-gen consoles prevent a development standstill? Sound off in the comment below!