Cross Generation Developer Frustration Is a Win for PS5

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According to insiders, developers are frustrated with developing for multiple generations. This could give PS5 the edge over Xbox Series X.

Another day, another insider giving some brief yet insightful details into the upcoming launch of PS5 and Xbox Series X. While yesterday we discussed the debunking of the pernicious “fake 4K” rumor being passed around, today focuses instead on some statements from Digital Foundry’s John Linneman. Specifically, that developers aren’t particularly keen to develop cross-generation titles — something that should be considered a win for PlayStation.

First off, for those new to console generations (hey zoomers!), cross-generation titles specifically mean games that will come out for both current gen consoles (PS4/Xbox One) and next gen consoles (PS5/Xbox Series X). Despite the fact that we are still enjoying technical and graphical powerhouses on current gen consoles, there is a major power disparity between the two base consoles.

According to a series of tweets by John Linneman, there is a growing logic that next-gen exclusive titles are “anti-consumer,” leading to a dearth of cross generation games. While there is objectively a pro-business move in this, as Linneman points out, there is little reason to believe the move is anti-consumer:

Linneman goes on in other replies to note that there are multiple downsides to cross generation compatibility, especially in the age of multiple tech SKUs (PS4 Pro, Xbox One X, etc.). The more hardware that has to be supported, the more work and money needs to be thrown at the problem. Also, the frustration with the development team shifts as they have to work harder on fixing bugs — not so much on developing out the content of their game:

Boiled down to it, he states “nobody wants to develop for an under-powered Jaguar CPU any longer,” a point he has pulled from conversations with current developers:

Now what does this mean strategically for the two consoles? Ultimately, it is a pretty big win for the PS5. Xbox Series X is (for better or worse) running on a platform of continuity among generations — hoping to keep support running for the oldest versions of the Xbox One for years to come. Meanwhile, while the PS5 has its fair share of cross-gen games coming at launch, we have already seen evidence that their first-party studios have no problem shifting away from PS4 in the very near future.

If Xbox is going to be contracting with developers to make sure that every console in the Xbox family is being supported in the near future, we might be seeing a couple years of resource-strapped Xbox Series X titles (rushed to support a continuing aged system). Meanwhile, the PS5 has more of an opportunity to break away from shackles of aged tech.

Ultimately, we don’t know how developers will take to developing for either consoles — with embargoes and NDA’s underfoot, it’s tough to know how content creators are taking to both systems. However, if there is general fatigue with the broader Xbox strategy (despite being more pro-consumer), it puts Microsoft in a notably tough spot.

Both the PS5 and Xbox Series X are slated to release in Holiday 2020, though exact launch dates or price points haven’t yet been revealed.

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