|Mr Puggsly said:
RAM was certainly a limitation long term, especially on PS3 which had less flexibility on how RAM was used. Consider 7th gen consoles had games like Crysis, Far Cry, Battlefield, Assassins Creed, GTA, Elder Scrolls, even some MMOs, etc. There The biggest RAM hog is often textures. Crossgen 7th gen games had abysmal textures likely because the game engines had less efficient use of RAM. But overall 7th gen consoles did amazing things with a small amount of RAM.
So I dont think RAM was the biggest limitation, if last gen had double the RAM then MOST games would have just had better textures. More often games struggled with performance or made significant visual compromises because of GPU limitations.
I will put it like this. If I could have chose double the RAM or GPU power for last gen, I would have opted for double the GPU power. Because more games would have utilized it better. Better resolutions (which Alan Wake needs), performance and higher quality effects. Last gen already had just enough RAM to make great open world games. Also, we have have consoles with significantly more RAM but the open world experiences haven't evolved much. You know what has improved significantly? Textures.
It's not as simple as that; RAM impacts a lot more than just textures. In open world games last gen, the limited RAM meant games had to be constantly shunting data in and out of memory. This not only resulted in a lot of pop-in and loading stalls, but also impacted performance because the CPU was bogged down by managing all this data streaming. These factors are a big part of why even top tier productions like Skyrim and GTA 5 could run so poorly.
It was also a big headache for developers; ask pretty much any dev who worked on PS3/360, and apart from the PS3's ridiculous architecture, they'll likely tell you that the hardest part was working with such extreme memory constraints.