After a PC-oriented friend illustrated to me the power of gaming on the platform, I have often considered shifting to the terrifying realm of PC gaming. To the intrigue of the entire gaming community, however, there has been a lot of talk in recent months concerning the PlayStation 4’s ability to exceed the performance of the personal computer. Mark Cerny has stepped up again to discuss the next-gen console’s edge on the PC.
Discussing the PS4’s "super-charged PC architecture" with VG247, Cerny says that the console will offer greater customization, stability, and flexibility than the architecture of the modern day PC. In turn, developers will be able to utilize the PS4’s hardware more effectively and create higher-quality experiences.
Learning from blunders made with the PlayStation 3’s architecture, Sony’s stated focus in recent months has been to enable developers to create diverse and immersive gameplay experiences; a mindset that hardware should not get in the way of creativity.
“We wanted the focus to be on the games that the creative directors wanted to make,” he explained, “rather than the minutiae of the hardware. That’s universal. That’s true whether you’re talking Destiny with their 700-strong team or you’re talking one guy doing everything. They want to focus on the creative vision."
A rich feature set, Cerny discussed, is also importance for allowing the hardware to grow over the years and permit developers to create more advanced, higher-quality experiences as they better master the console’s architecture.
"The hardware has to grow over time," Cerny said, discussing the importance that the PS4’s hardware is flexible enough to allow developers to continuously improve game quality and performance. "That’s why I refer to it as a super-charged PC architecture – there’s more in it than what you find in a PC."
“There are all these customizations, such as what we did to the GPU and other parts of the system to ensure that they would really be these systems that programmers could dig into in year three or four of the console life-cycle.”
In theory, the glory of the PS4’s architecture is that it permits developers to create better experiences–on their own terms. The base architecture will remain the same for many years, allowing game creators the time to analyze and master the hardware thoroughly before having to adapt to innovations. The customizable and flexible nature of the hardware, then, will permit developers who thoroughly understand the hardware to move forward and push the limits of the console experience to new heights. The hardware is developer-friendly, providing both triple-A and indie developers a stable and desirable platform for their projects.
“The developers really have a chance to study that architecture because it doesn’t change for many years. They can learn its secrets and get progressively better performance out of it. Consoles also provide a stable platform," said Cerny.
“This is really important because some developers need five years to create a game. The fact that during that five year period the target hardware doesn’t change really allows them to bring titles to the world that couldn’t exist otherwise."
Do you think the PS4 will really be a match for the PC in the years to come, or is this nothing more than Sony-generated hype to shift attention away from inherent console inferiority? If legitimate, what would you like to see developers accomplish on the PS4’s dynamic hardware?
Steven Chaffin, Jr. is an American editor for PlayStation Universe. He joined PlayStation Universe in November 2008, and became a staff writer and editor in 2013. You can learn more about Steven on his blog, and by following him on Twitter @steven_chaffin.