PS3 doesn’t suck as much as fanbois

What am I doing writing three blog posts per week, especially when I have another one (weekly roundup) to write tomorrow? Well, you see, I’m a bit angry. And when I’m angry, I blog. PlayStation 3What started as a perfectly innocent *opinion* from an ex game developer for Harmonix (makers of Guitar Hero and Rock Band) on his blog about the difficulties of programming on the PS3, has turned into a fanboy fight-fest, mostly from PS3 fanbois and members of the Sony Defence Force blasting his *opinions* in the comments section. The funny thing is that Jason Booth, the developer/blogger in question, didn’t even suggest that the PS3 sucks, just that it’s difficult to programme for and that the expectation that PS3 games will own Xbox 360 games in the future might not be fully realised. Here are the points raised in the blog post:

  • PS3 has a slower fill rate than the Xbox 360
  • Multi-processor programming is too complicated to take full advantage of the Cell
  • Blu-ray is great for providing more space, but has a slower load time. It is now mainly used to store duplicate game assets to speed up load time and work around some of the other limitations of the PS3
  • Optimization for the PS3 is costly, and developers lack the resources to do it effectively
  • Code for the PS3 cannot be re-used for non-PS3 projects, so investment in PS3 coding is expensive

Now I’m not saying that all these points are valid. Some are probably not, but I can’t comment because I don’t work on game development. But the reaction to it has been, sadly, typical whenever someone says anything bad about a particular tech, in this instance, from PS3 fanbois. So what kind of reaction do we get from PS3 fanbois? That game developers, who sometimes work 18 hour days and basically live at the office, are lazy. That because Jason spelt “Blu-ray” wrong and that he started his career as a computer graphic artist means he knows nothing about programming. Some even suggested that his new work involves producing a product that will compete with Sony Home, and therefore, he is a bitter programmer who is going to get beat by Sony and is venting his anger. How could these people come out with these statements when most (if not all) of them have zero programming experience? And why personal attacks against someone who simply expressed his own opinions about a piece of tech? The comments posted are not all from fanbois though. There are a lot of anonymous postings from programmers with even more technical evidence of the PS3’s failings. As someone who graduated as a Software Engineer, but never really went to work in the field, I can understand some but not all of the points raised, but it seem to make sense. These programmers are posting anonymously because they fear this kind of backlash from fanbois, and more importantly, the spanking they will get from Sony which in turn might mean a loss of employment. But it’s not just anonymous programmers, some of the industry’s biggest names have all spoken out against the PS3’s design. Gabe Newell, the man behind the amazing Half-Life series and MD of Valve software, said earlier this year that:

The PS3 is a total disaster on so many levels, I think It’s really clear that Sony lost track of what customers and what developers wanted. I’d say, even at this late date, they should just cancel it and do a ‘do over’. Just say, ‘This was a horrible disaster and we’re sorry and we’re going to stop selling this and stop trying to convince people to develop for it.’

Then we have John Carmack, creator of Doom/Quake from ID Software, saying:

But the honest truth is that Microsoft dev tools are so much better than Sony’s. We expect to keep in mind the issues of bringing this up on the PlayStation 3… they’re not helpful to the developers… I suspect they’re not going to overwhelmingly crush the marketplace this time, which wasn’t clear a year ago.

And posted on this blog a couple of weeks ago, was this statement from BioWare President Greg Zeschuk:

If everyone’s waiting for this huge gap, it’s just not going to happen. By the end of this generation both PS3 and Xbox 360 will look awesome. Maybe 1 per cent of the population might be able to tell the difference between the two.

No surprise then that PS3 fanbois have already blasted all of these pioneers of gaming, some go as far as suggesting they’ve been bribed to say these things. I know who I would believe if I had to choose between Carmack/Newell/Zeschuk or Sony’s PR department and their legion of fanbois. What these experts are saying, is not that the PS3 totally sucks, but rather, that it’s not an easy piece of hardware to programme for. I’m sure the Xbox 360 and Wii have their own problems, but Sony seemed to have ignored the human element (ie. programmers) when they came up with their design for the PS3. I’m sure that if developers allocated more resources to the PS3, they could come up with games that will be as impressive if not more so than the Xbox 360 version. But the extra resources dedicated to make the game look good takes resources away from making the game fun to play and in the longevity stakes (see Lair, Heavenly Sword, Ratchet and Clank …). But even if you don’t believe these experts, then all you have to do is to look at reality (something that fanbois are unable to do, seemingly). The reality is that the Xbox 360 has the biggest market share, compared to the PS3’s pathetic 14% hold on the US market. The reality is that the Xbox 360 has more and better games so far, and that developers seem to develop more games and do it faster on the Xbox 360. The reality is that when cross-platform games are produced, these either look the same on either platforms, or in many cases, look and play better on the Xbox 360. That’s reality, and until it changes, nothing fanbois can say will make the PS3 a better game console.


4 Responses to “PS3 doesn’t suck as much as fanbois”

  1. Warren Says:

    What everyone fails to realize is that XBox had the same problem when it first started. Microsoft had a year lead on Sony. Note the difference between Madden 08 on the XBox and the PS3. Both games were released at the same time. Madden 08 ran slower on the PS3 because programmers for EA didn’t have the experience to deal with the PS3 like they did with the XBox. I wish both camps would stop downplaying each other.

    There is only one reason I won’t get an XBox machine. That is most of XBox’s good games come out on the PC after a while. So what’s the point if I have a good computer.

  2. DVDGuy Says:

    It’s true that the 360 has a year start on the PS3, but that’s entirely down to the fault of Sony who insisted on including two pieces of not-yet-ready technology. One is the Cell chip, which developers are struggling to get to grips with (and also the problematic memory handling on the PS3). And the other is Blu-ray (which also leads to the high price, another one of the PS3’s main faults). And then Blu-ray got delayed because of delays to the numerous DRM copy protection systems Sony wanted to add to the format in addition to the ones already being used by HD DVD.

    If the PS3 was released at the same time as the Xbox 360, with a normal processor and sans Blu-ray, then maybe the PS3 won’t be that much more powerful than the 360, but it would have completely wiped out the 360 before it even got started. Sony has nobody to blame but themselves.

    I’m also a big PC gaming fan – PCs can play any game that consoles play (if you buy a good gamepad), but consoles struggle to play many games that PCs can play (RTS, flight sims … even FPS plays better with a keyboard/mouse combo). It’s a shame that some delopers are shifting away from making PC games (Call of Duty 3, for example, plus some other good Xbox 360 games such as Dead Rising, Saint’s Row and Crackdown). But consoles make gaming a bit simpler – just pop in the disc and start, no need to configure drivers and solve compatiblity problems. Plus, unless your computer sits in your home theatre next to your large screen TV, consoles are still the easiest way to play games at 1080p with 5.1 surround sound. Computers that can play games smoothly at 1080p (1920×1080) are still a bit too expensive.

  3. HC Says:

    Explain games like Resistance, Ratchet and Clank, Uncharted etc. All those people you listed as references as to how bad the PS3 is are essentially Windows programmers i.e. used to DirectX i.e. they don’t want to make the investment required to learn a new architecture. And Carmack, is he even relevant anymore. What was the last good game he put out? Maybe something about 10 years ago.

    Bottomline is, people are making beautiful games on the PS3, the likes of which are just not possible on the 360.

  4. DVDGuy Says:

    There’s no point in mentioning how good a PS3 exclusive looks since we don’t know what it will look and play like on the Xbox 360. It’s like a 360 fan pointing to “game of the year” Bioshock and saying there’s nothing like it on the PS3. All you can do is to compared multi-platform releases, and so far, almost all of them have favoured the 360. In fact, this point has already been covered in the comments of the original blog post that this post was about, as many PS3 fans there have already used the same argument (“that *** looks great on the PS3 so this guy doesn’t know what he’s talking about” – this guy was talking about multi-platform releases and why games produced are fairly even in quality on both platforms).

    And good looking games means nothing if the gameplay is not there. Ratchet and Clank has great gameplay, so even if it looked like a Wii title, I’m sure people would still like it. Similarly, Bioshock might not look as good as Uncharted, but who can deny it is not a better game? Many of the developers who have had problems with the PS3 say that so much time is spent on ensuring the PS3 version looks the same as the 360 version, that there is less time to devote to making the gameplay the same as well, hence why multi-platform games are better on the 360 (so far, until developers make the PS3 the lead platform).

    And I think Carmack is still relevant as he is still employed by ID (Doom 3, Quake 4, Quake Wars …). But even if he isn’t working in gaming anymore, he is a legend of gaming and what he says is always relevant. The need to attack someone as revered as Carmack is exactly what I’m talking about in terms of “fanbois” in this blog. And even if he is “irrelevant”, what about Greg Zeschuk? Gabe Newell? Denis Dyack? Mike Bilder? They all say pretty much the same thing in that while 360 development is more in line with existing programming techniques, the PS3 differs in these techniques (thanks to Sony) plus it has memory related problems, making it more difficult to develop for. It’s not saying the PS3 isn’t a better console than the 360, or that PS3 graphics won’t be better than the 360, it’s just a reality of game development. Big developers will absorb the costs, but smaller developers will look to limit their already multi-million dollar development on platforms that sell well, and the PS3 (currently) isn’t one of them.

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