PlayStation 4's lead system architect Mark Cerny has admitted that PlayStation 3 had a "weak lineup" of titles available at launch, and explained the difficulties the hardware and software teams faced in the build-up to PS3's release.
Cerny made the comments during a presentation discussing the development of PlayStation 4, explaining the problems Sony experienced prior to the release of PS3, and describing CELL as a "Rubik's cube" which made it difficult for developers to perform "the most basic tasks".
"This was an exciting time but it was also a scary time," he said. "It was exciting because the technology was so new and if used properly it was so powerful. It was scary because it was hard to figure out how to do the most basic tasks on the hardware."
Cerny likened CELL's SPUs to "a super computer on a chip. They have high performance but to get that performance you have to master their very high complexity."
He continued: "By this time it was already early 2005 and the hardware launch was set for holiday 2006 – less than two years away. Our focus changed from creating shared technology to trying to develop launch and launch window titles. We had to come face-to-face with a very tough fact: it was going to be quite difficult to create those titles.
"One problem that surfaced at this point was that the emphasis had been – for those first few years – 99 per cent hardware and 1 percent software. PS3 hardware was now close to reality but the game teams lacked many of the tools necessary to create their titles... The entire development environment was in a very primitive state."
Cerny revealed that first-party teams "needed basically an entire year to create usable graphics engines" for PlayStation 3. "The sky-high expectations for the game titles could only be met through clever use of SPUs, but both the unique nature of CELL and the primitive state of the development environment meant that game creation on PlayStation 3 was more time-consuming than any previous platform."
He also admitted that first-party studios felt they could outperform third-party developers because of their "tremendous lead" on PS3 development. "Our feeling was that Electronic Arts and Rockstar better watch out; our proprietary first-party systems were going to show them who had the right stuff. This was, of course, completely the wrong attitude... We weren't thinking about the platform at all."
PlayStation 3 launched in North America in late 2006, alongside first-party titles Resistance: Fall of Man, NBA 07 and Genji: Days of the Blade. Off-road racer MotorStorm followed shortly after.
Cerny continued: "Though we couldn't address all these issues in time for launch - which resulted in a weak line-up - we came out of this difficult time with some strengths. Those three years around launch – 2005, 2006, 2007 – are our unifying experience at Sony Computer Entertainment. Anyone who lived through those times understands the need for international collaboration, the value of frank and open conversation... the importance not just of hardware but also software and tools, and the vital role of third-parties in the success of the platform."
Cerny will be hoping that PlayStation 4 doesn't suffer a similar fate when it launches this Christmas. First-party titles due to release at launch include DriveClub, Killzone: Shadow Fall and Knack, with inFamous: Second Son due to ship early next year.
Source: Road to PlayStation 4