2020 is poised to be an exciting year for gaming. Xbox’s Project Scarlett is going to hit store shelves next fall, and Sony’s PS5 is not too far off either. Next-generation consoles will also herald several technical improvements such as ray-tracing and 8K support. As we are just over a year out from this next console jump, many developers are starting to evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of what is coming next.
In a recent interview with DualShockers, David Cage highlighted some of the interesting features that next-gen consoles will bring. That being said, he also voiced his concern for the limitations of the promised features and how they could increase the cost of development to a point that hurts “middle-range developers” like Quantic Dream.
Cage admitted that new technology does have a lot of strengths such as “a significant improvement in CPU power, which will mean significant improvements in physics and AI. GPU improvement should be enough to get Ray Tracing in Full HD or Full 4K resolution (without Ray Tracing).” Despite how great these features sound, David Cage was sure to state that “All in all, we believe that there will be serious improvements in next-gen games, but maybe not the ones that are currently promoted the most.”
Two of the biggest things that David Cage says fans currently seem to be unaware of is how “all parameters are linked” for the aforementioned improvements and how “improving one part of the hardware only makes sense if all is proportionally accelerated to avoid bottlenecks.” As an example, Cage discussed the 8K support that is being teased by companies like Microsoft. “You can have 8K content only if you have an 8K screen. You can do 8K, but probably not 8K AND Ray Tracing. If you have 8K content, the volume of your assets will grow very significantly, their size in memory and on your hard drive too. You will also need to load them very quickly from your storage device to the memory, so this pipeline will also need to be proportionally faster.”
While 8K sounds great on paper, Cage demonstrated to DualShockers how these seemingly simple improvements can snowball into a whole suite of new problems that need solutions. Quantic Dream has even already analyzed how the PS5 and Project Scarlett will likely be utilized by developers. “Our current analysis is that few studios will go for 8K because it will necessitate too many compromises on the overall quality of the game. Ray Tracing is going to be so costly that we will probably only see Full HD titles using it (there is a direct connection between resolution, Ray Tracing and performances), at least in the first generation of titles,” he said.
David Cage’s ultimate point was that “there will be serious improvements in next-gen games, but maybe not the ones that are currently promoted the most. More power means more toys to play with, but also more complex and longer development cycles, and of course, bigger budgets.” He is also worried about “middle-range developers” struggling to get their games produced for the PS5 and Xbox’s Project Scarlett as “there may only be room for big franchises, because they will be the most able to recoup their massive dev budgets.” As of now, we can only wait and see if this prediction is true and mid-tier developers get hit negatively, like they did in the Xbox 360 and PS3 era.
While Cage’s outlook on the power of next-gen consoles seems a little dour, he did ultimately concede that great games will make or break the platforms. “I personally believe that technology is the pen to write the book. It can facilitate the writing, create nice-looking books, but a pen will never make your book great by itself. Content is going to be key in the coming years, maybe even more than before. All new platforms will need high quality exclusive content to attract consumers, which is a positive thing for developers and gamers. My hope is that we will see creative and original titles, because more than technology, they are the ones that make our industry move forward.”
Quantic Dream’s Heavy Rain and Beyond: Two Souls recently came to the Epic Games Store, and Detroit: Become Human will follow later this fall. You can also expect to see more from DualShockers‘ interview with David Cage over the next week.
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