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Forums - Gaming Discussion - Alternate history: What if PS3 launched without Cell or Blu-Ray at $399?

Oh ya, the gen would have turned out much differently



Xbox: Best hardware, Game Pass best value, best BC, more 1st party genres and multiplayer titles. 

 

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Another alternative would be to release in late 2007, taking full advantage of the 65 nm node, Nvidia's Tesla GPUs etc. and basically try to make the X360 the new Dreamcast.



 

 

 

 

 

Cerebralbore101 said:
The entire gaming landscape would be different today. Part of the reason why more and more games went multiplatform, was because they couldn't make enough money selling on just PS3. But if PS3 was easy to code for and at that $400 price point, it would have sold somewhere between 100-120 million. 360 would have been 40-65 million. 360 gained a ton of momentum off of having console versions of PC games that PS3 didn't have, or running those games better if PS3 actually had them.

Imagine the PS3 with...

Left 4 Dead
Mass Effect Not delayed for years.
No Oblivion Delay
No Bioshock Delay
GTA4 exclusivity
Assassin's Creed franchise exclusivity
Ace Combat 6 exclusivity
Dead Rising
DMC4 exclusivity
Final Fantasy franchise exclusivity
Dragon Age
Fallout 3 running smoothly
Fallout NV running smoothly
and a ton more games. Too many for me to remember or list. It would have been almost a complete repeat of the PS2 gen in terms of Sony exclusivity. Any game franchise that was exclusive to PS2 would have stayed exclusive to PS3.

Sony was focused on power so if they went with a traditional CPU they likely would have flat out had the better console as far as graphics comparisons go.

If I remember right Microsoft published the first Mass Effect it was only when EA bought Bioware they put it on PS3.

With Bioshock I think Microsoft had a year exclusivity deal.



d21lewis said:
As the owner of both, it baffled me how large a lot of PS3 games were (in GB) compared to their Xbox 360 counterparts. Did any games really benefit from Blu Ray or the Cell?

As well as uncompressed audio, a common reason for the PS3 versions being much better was redundancy; putting the same data at multiple points on the Blu Ray disc to try to counter its slow seek speeds. 



Bet with Liquidlaser: I say PS5 and Xbox Series will sell more than 56 million combined by the end of 2023.

Blu-ray Ray was the difference on some games. And it killed the MS backed HD-DVD monster. And quickly. The fewer tentacles Microsoft has in...anything...the better. People forget about the last great format war. Hosanna in the highest. PS3 was great as it was. Most people who disagree should think about getting a second job. Hosanna in the highest.



- "If you have the heart of a true winner, you can always get more pissed off than some other asshole."

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GaoGaiGarV said:
If they hadn't used a Bluray drive they hadn't had the problems with manufactoring of blue lasers which caused them to postpone the launch of the PS3 by almost a year. So they would have released the console at the same timeframe as the Xbox 360 so the latter one wouldn't have had the time advantage. Paired with the PS2 and PS1 backwards compatibility this would have been a huge advantage. When PS3 was released backwards compatibility wasn't that big of a deal anymore because we already were in the middle of the HD-generation. Also because of the lower price the console would have been more competitive and Sony wouldn't have to axe the backwards compatibility feature in the first place.
If they hadn't used the Cell CPU then maybe the whole architecture of the console would have been different.

The irony is... Despite the power and complexity of the Cell... Playstation 3 emulation is better than Xbox 360 emulation.

Clearly not a real excuse or a hindrance in hindsight... Plus Microsoft took a unique approach to backwards compatibility on the Xbox One, they repackaged the games, virtualization the older console environment and only emulated what they absolutely needed... Which meant even anemic hardware like the Jaguar CPU's were doing just fine.
It helped that Microsoft had some Xbox 360 hardware support in the Xbox One SoC, so Microsoft was forward thinking on that front.


GaoGaiGarV said:
They wouldn't have had the absurd idea to include 2 Cell CPUs, one as the main processor and one which acts as a GPU. They wouldn't have to come to the realization that this was a bad idea and wouldn't have to include a striped down Nvidia GPU at the last moment which was even less powerfull than the Xbox 360s GPU. They most likely would have developed a much more powerful GPU which was even more powerful than the one in the Xbox.

The lower price and earlier release date would have prevented many customers from switching to Xbox 360 and PS3 could have reached 100m sold units.

Sony learned very early that they couldn't use a Cell CPU as a GPU, for one, the Cell CPU doesn't have any GPU features baked into it's hardware anyway (Like Texture Sampelrs), it would have required allot more development time and R&D.
Plus the yields on the Cell meant the CPU was expensive to manufacture. (And thus required a few units to be deactivated to increase yields for the final product.)

Nor does it even have the performance to make it feasible... Why spend the time and money bringing a new chip up to speed when ATI and nVidia have already done all the work?
Sony had already decided to go with RSX a year and a half before it's console released, thus it would have been chosen it much longer before that even.
https://www.anandtech.com/Show/Index/1683

nVidia and ATI were roughly the same level of performance though... In gaming.
https://www.anandtech.com/show/2080/4

The Xbox 360 GPU however could pull ahead in vertex operations thanks to the unified shaders, also had better texture compression support so it could do more with less memory and bandwidth... But also had small advantages like a tessellator which was put to full use in games like Halo 3 for it's water surfaces.

So when developers built and optimized games for the Xbox 360, they were able to take advantage of these small "tricks" to come out ahead.

It also helped that the Xbox 360 was just an easier environment to build games for, not just because of the hardware, but rather often... The software and development tools.



--::{PC Gaming Master Race}::--

Pemalite said:
GaoGaiGarV said:
If they hadn't used a Bluray drive they hadn't had the problems with manufactoring of blue lasers which caused them to postpone the launch of the PS3 by almost a year. So they would have released the console at the same timeframe as the Xbox 360 so the latter one wouldn't have had the time advantage. Paired with the PS2 and PS1 backwards compatibility this would have been a huge advantage. When PS3 was released backwards compatibility wasn't that big of a deal anymore because we already were in the middle of the HD-generation. Also because of the lower price the console would have been more competitive and Sony wouldn't have to axe the backwards compatibility feature in the first place.
If they hadn't used the Cell CPU then maybe the whole architecture of the console would have been different.

The irony is... Despite the power and complexity of the Cell... Playstation 3 emulation is better than Xbox 360 emulation.

Clearly not a real excuse or a hindrance in hindsight... Plus Microsoft took a unique approach to backwards compatibility on the Xbox One, they repackaged the games, virtualization the older console environment and only emulated what they absolutely needed... Which meant even anemic hardware like the Jaguar CPU's were doing just fine.
It helped that Microsoft had some Xbox 360 hardware support in the Xbox One SoC, so Microsoft was forward thinking on that front.


GaoGaiGarV said:
They wouldn't have had the absurd idea to include 2 Cell CPUs, one as the main processor and one which acts as a GPU. They wouldn't have to come to the realization that this was a bad idea and wouldn't have to include a striped down Nvidia GPU at the last moment which was even less powerfull than the Xbox 360s GPU. They most likely would have developed a much more powerful GPU which was even more powerful than the one in the Xbox.

The lower price and earlier release date would have prevented many customers from switching to Xbox 360 and PS3 could have reached 100m sold units.

Sony learned very early that they couldn't use a Cell CPU as a GPU, for one, the Cell CPU doesn't have any GPU features baked into it's hardware anyway (Like Texture Sampelrs), it would have required allot more development time and R&D.
Plus the yields on the Cell meant the CPU was expensive to manufacture. (And thus required a few units to be deactivated to increase yields for the final product.)

Nor does it even have the performance to make it feasible... Why spend the time and money bringing a new chip up to speed when ATI and nVidia have already done all the work?
Sony had already decided to go with RSX a year and a half before it's console released, thus it would have been chosen it much longer before that even.
https://www.anandtech.com/Show/Index/1683

nVidia and ATI were roughly the same level of performance though... In gaming.
https://www.anandtech.com/show/2080/4

The Xbox 360 GPU however could pull ahead in vertex operations thanks to the unified shaders, also had better texture compression support so it could do more with less memory and bandwidth... But also had small advantages like a tessellator which was put to full use in games like Halo 3 for it's water surfaces.

So when developers built and optimized games for the Xbox 360, they were able to take advantage of these small "tricks" to come out ahead.

It also helped that the Xbox 360 was just an easier environment to build games for, not just because of the hardware, but rather often... The software and development tools.

So with GPU advantage on 360's side, just how much more capable was Cell than Xenon in practical gaming applications? How much of an actual edge did Sony's expensive and developer-unfriendly historical solution buy them in the CPU department?



Bet with Liquidlaser: I say PS5 and Xbox Series will sell more than 56 million combined by the end of 2023.

curl-6 said:

So with GPU advantage on 360's side, just how much more capable was Cell than Xenon in practical gaming applications? How much of an actual edge did Sony's expensive and developer-unfriendly historical solution buy them in the CPU department?

Significant. But only if developers leveraged the Cell fully.
Most developers would leverage the Cell to do post-process effects like Morphological Anti-Aliasing, texture decompression and so forth in real time... Everything that would normally be done on the GPU on the Xbox 360.

It did mean that more cycles on the GPU were available for other tasks on the Playstation 3.

But let's be realistic here, it didn't give the Playstation 3 a generational advantage, far from it... But it did mean that some games exhibited some impressive visuals, like Uncharted and The Last of Us, even if they relied heavily on baked details like Halo 4.

The Xbox 360 GPU was more programmable than the nVidia alternative, it was actually ATI's first efforts into GPU compute and the PC variant of that GPU (X1800) had Folding@Home and Seti compute support so it made up for the CPU shortfall in the end.
It's just the Cell made up for that.

Either way, both consoles were extremely DRAM limited by the end of the generation, which was an issue compounded more on the Playstation 3 due to it's non-flexible split DRAM pools.



--::{PC Gaming Master Race}::--

I'm honestly not sure about this one myself. It definitely would've gotten off to a faster start with a lower price point, and having a regular CPU would likely have meant better multiplat performance, thus potentially robbing 360 of the "most games look and run better on our box" card.

Then again, I think a lot of folks who balked at the initial cost likely ended up getting one further down the road anyway once it dropped to $300.

Blu ray playback may also have been a selling point for some folks, possibly.



Bet with Liquidlaser: I say PS5 and Xbox Series will sell more than 56 million combined by the end of 2023.

curl-6 said:

If the Playstation 3 had used a more standard CPU, and went with DVD instead of Blu-Ray, but launched at a more affordable $399 USD as a result, how do you think this would've affected its sales and how Gen 7 played out?

It would have helped for sure, but would it have saved the PS3? Maybe not. I think people neglect how on point Microsoft was during Generation 7. They launched a year earlier, still secured a ton of exclusives and honestly just had better games early on. They were still selling even with the Red Ring of Death (people were more willing to deal with the system failure than get something else). A lot of Sony's launch games weren't great and who knows if losing Cell would have made them better. Sure, they would have been more functional, but were they better than Gears of War or Halo 3? Probably not. Even when you look at their expanded market moves, Kinect had far more impact and did better than Move did. 

Also, it should be noted 3rd parties would have gone multiplat regardless of how difficult it was to make PS3 games. HD development drastically increased development time and cost. They couldn't be exclusive to one machine. While there were some games, it wasn't the norm. The days of the PS2 having every single game were done and it wont go back to that. 

I think the thing is Sony doesn't ever put themselves in a strong position. They're kind of the status quo console and it seems more often that their completion missteps than they make big business plays. This is certainly true of the XBox One and Wii U. Even with some of the changes you mentioned, Microsoft and Nintendo were still in peak performance. The XBox 360 dominated it's home market and Wii created a phenomenon. Would Sony going from teetering on the brink of bankruptcy to being just OK really have changed their fortune in gen 7? Probably not. 

Last edited by VideoGameAccountant - on 23 March 2020

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