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Forums - Gaming Discussion - Sony's U-turn - Should first party games be cross-gen?

 

Should new first party titles be cross-gen?

Yes, and I love that they are 13 22.41%
 
Sometimes, but generally they should be 8 13.79%
 
Sometimes, but generally they should not 26 44.83%
 
No, they should be for next gen only. 11 18.97%
 
Total:58

With the topic back in the news again with a PS4 version of God of War Ragnarok confirmed (and with it a pivot to fairly much releasing most PS5 games on PS4, as Microsoft are with Xbox One), I wanted to start a thread which can hopefully at last cover the cross-gen release debate from several different angles. Angles both which explain why both competitors are releasing first party cross-gen, and also fuel a more comprehensive debate about whether they should be doing it or not. They are namely;

  1. Sales revenue from the games
  2. Quality/ambition of the game (on the latest platform)
  3. Effect on console sales.

The first effect is quite straightforward. More platforms means more sales by giving you access to more consumers. Dynamically you get more money which may or may not lead to more money invested in future games. There is something to be said about the fact that cross-gen games don’t tend to sell quite so well on last gen. This may have something to do with the fact that the consumers most likely to spend on new games are also most likely to have bought a next-gen machine.

The second effect reduces to the “limited by” argument. While I’m absolutely not a software engineer of any sort, there is a limit to the scope of the world you can create with old hardware. CPU limitations are the most constraining, especially with lots of AI and in open-world games. The argument goes that, especially if the game is targeting 60fps on last gen, the next-gen versions will invariably leave unused CPU headroom which could have been used to power more immersive worlds. GPU limitations are less constraining since differentials can be overcome by lowering resolutions and graphical options, while memory limitations can normally be overcome by squashing loading distances and cutting texture details. However, GPU differences can nonetheless relevant since developers of cross-gen games are less likely to choose a heavier engine which may compromise the last-gen version, but would deliver better graphics on the next-gen version. Yet in reality, it seems to me that historically we have seen early-gen titles use previous-gen technology regardless of whether they were gross-gen or not.

The third effect is also straightforward but is affected by the first two. If the game is available on your last-gen hardware, the urgency to go off and buy the latest machine is reduced since you now have an outside option to play it. Extra money earned by selling the game to PS4 users (1) is partially counteracted by fewer PS5 sales, and getting consumers aboard early is vital to give a system a strong start in the sales where momentum plays a huge part. Yet in a world where semiconductor shortages mean you’re already selling every PS5 you manufacture, this effect is completely academic. I think this has everything to do with the U-turn we've all witnessed. 

So is it a good or a bad thing?



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It depends on if it's a mandate. If Sony is requiring its first party developers to work on PS4, it's a bad thing. If they aren't, and the devs are the ones who want to make a cross gen game, then they should be able to make the game they want.  

If they think everything they have can run on the previous gen with minor cutbacks, I think that's a good thing. More people are able to play the game, and the only people that really care about console sales are people who think plastic box sales are a competition.  

If developers aren't able to do what they want to do, that's a big problem. If your level/boss design has to be held back because of a IO deficiency, that sucks. If your AI has to be held back because of a Memory/Processing deficiency, that sucks.  

And technically there's a middle ground. You could have games with next gen exclusive features. You could have next gen exclusive AI for example. Gran Turismo 7 could have 12 racers on PS4, 24 on PS5. Stuff like that isn't impossible to do. It's just more work in general. A smaller example is that Spiderman had an animation for leaving a building on PS5, and PS4 had a loading screen instead.

It isn't great for the gamer, because we can't be sure if the game is being held back or not.



I will say the same thing I said when MS was getting fucking roasted on this site by the Sony crowd for their cross gen strategy: It doesn’t really matter.

What next gen only games have we seen on PS5? Returnal, Demons Souls, and that car game with the shitty MTX? I think that’s it? Maybe Godfall, but isn’t it on PC? And what incredible mechanics or gameplay have we seen that couldn’t be done on PS4? Nothing. Everything just looks better thanks to better hardware and loads faster thanks to the SSD. The first year or so of a new gen almost always is just an extension of last gen. I’d expect it to last longer this gen because of COVID.

I also don’t think it will affect console sales much because all of these consoles are selling out quickly.

So if there was no COVID, Sony might have had a year one on PS5 with Horizon 2, Ragnarok, and GT7. Even Horizon, when it was revealed it was said that things like swimming and flying were meant to be in the first game but the PS4 wasn’t strong enough. Low and behold Horizon 2 is coming to PS4 and there’s swimming, and presumably flying? The cross gen effect is vastly overrated.



I think the main reason is its easier then ever before. Thanks to the consoles becoming more like PC's and Engines becoming so good at scaling it makes it easier then ever to build your game for last gen and current gen hardware.
Like you have said it is very uncommon to see a game that takes full advantage of next-gen hardware within its first year even if its exclusive. So since its so easy they might as well take advantage of this fact early on.
Its later in the gen year 2-3 we start seeing games that would need some bigger downgrades or lose some of their vision if they where to still be cross-gen. But thankfully by then is when the console makers said they will be moving on from cross-gen.
So to be honest i don't mind as the games that's going to be cross-gen wouldn't of really been better at this point in time even if they wasn't and by the time games start coming that will be using the power of next-gen the whole cross-gen thing should be over.



Nothing wrong with cross gen games.
The more people that can play the game the better.



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Should is a strange word. Leave the freedom to the developers.
"Should" is how you end up with games like Shadow of mordor (basing a game around the nemesis system.. which then isn't on older consoles)
Or Forza 2(horizon?) In which one releases with a long, long, long list of things missing.

Returnal on the PS4 would just be awkward. It would be downright bad. Where as Mile morales just "Added" stuff on the Ps5 but none of it really was missing from the ps4 version.



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The best approach is the middle one in my opinion. The fans want exclusives that take advantage of the new hardware, and the general customers want cross-gen games that they can play on their existing platforms. Sony is kind of doing that, but they are leaning toward a cross-gen approach far too much IMO. Games like Demon's Souls, Returnal, and R&C Rift Apart are important for the PS5, but they are not nearly as impactful as fully "next-gen" GoW or Horizon. With that said, Horizon is the most "next-gen" game I have seen, despite being cross-gen, so...

Microsoft got a backlash too when they announce that "all" of their games will be cross-gen. Which IMO is a mistake. They need a few games to show what the new hardware is capable of.

Last edited by Astral - on 04 June 2021

It depends. Is it a good thing for who? For the customer, having more options is always a good thing, so multiplats and crossgens are the way to go. For the platform holders, if they see they can get more money by doing crossgen releases despite maybe losing some of the hardware pushing factor, then it's good for them.



You know it deserves the GOTY.

Come join The 2018 Obscure Game Monthly Review Thread.

Astral said:

The best approach is the middle one in my opinion. The fans want exclusives that take advantage of the new hardware, and the general customers want cross-gen games that they can play on their existing platforms. Sony is kind of doing that, but they are leaning toward a cross-gen approach far too much IMO. Games like Demon's Souls, Returnal, and R&C Rift Apart are important for the PS5, but they are not nearly as impactful as fully "next-gen" GoW or Horizon. With that said, Horizon is the most "next-gen" game I have seen, despite being cross-gen, so...

Microsoft got a backlash too when they announce that "all" of their games will be cross-gen. Which IMO is a mistake. They need a few games to show what the new hardware is capable of.

They did that with Ryse last gen. Next gen graphics don't always have to be built from the ground up with games. Showcasing next gen effects with better frame rates and higher clarity is just as good in many cases.

Playing a game from 30fps to 60fps with effects like Ray tracing etc is just as much mind blowing than building a game from scratch. The games still have to be good, not many care for just visual tech demos.



Since we are talking about games that will release in 2022, the answer is a clear "No, they should not be cross-gen." Especially when we are talking about IPs that are known for technological achievements.

The revenue you get from cross-gen in year 2 is nothing to write home about anymore while at the same time the installed base of the new console is already big enough to do away with all concerns about revenue. Looking at Call of Duty on the PS3, the 2013 game sold 10m copies, the 2014 entry 4m, the 2015 installment only 2m. Just a year after the launch of a new console, you can already see a substantial dropoff in sales, so when the targeted release window is 1.5 to 2 years after the launch of a new console, you might as well forego a cross-gen release as a platform holder. For third parties it's a more attractive proposition because they target multiple platforms with their cross-gen releases.

Quality of the game on the latest platform may or may not suffer. It depends on how the game is developed. If the primary development team is entirely focused on the more modern version, it will turn out okay while the last gen version will likely suffer due to some mandatory cutbacks in certain sections of the game; but when the last gen version needs to be butchered, it raises the question why even bother. If the primary development team does both versions side by side, then development won't take much advantage of the new hardware.

As for the effect on console sales, when Sony aims to ship 23m PS5 units during the fiscal year ending March 2023 - which would be a PS record-high - then they shouldn't dabble in cross-gen for so long. It's not good for PR when the graphical fidelity of supposed show-off first party titles will be in doubt for an extended period of time, and said doubt is what you invite with a cross-gen release strategy.



Legend11 correctly predicted that GTA IV (360+PS3) would outsell SSBB. I was wrong.

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