New generation of consoles means increased production costs

2004/09/23

New generation of consoles means increased production costs

According to this CNET article game developers expect development costs for next generation consoles to double or triple compared to the current Xbox and PS2 generation.

Extracts :

As gamers anxiously await powerful new consoles from Microsoft and Sony,game publishers are trying to figure out where they’ll get the extra millions of dollars needed to create titles for the new hardware (…) New game consoles promise startling graphics and more realistic play. But additional hardware complexity is expected to nearly triple the cost of developing new games (…) While another wave of consolidation among software publishers may result, game makers are investigating new programming techniques to help ease the pain and save money.

Market leader Sony, along with Microsoft and Nintendo, are expected to introduce new console designs within the next year or two. While Nintendo has downplayed the importance of graphics performance in its plans, Microsoft and Sony are promising dramatic increases in horsepower from the next versions of the Xbox and the PlayStation. Xbox 2 will sport an internal configuration dramatically different from the current console, while Sony is promising revolutionary advances from the “Cell” processor that will power the PlayStation 3.

Harnessing that silicon will mean a lot more work for game developers, said David Doak, director of Free Radical Design, an independent developer best known for its “TimeSplitter” games. Characters in games for the previous generation of consoles were represented by a few hundred polygons, the basic units of geometry rendered by game engines, Doak said. Current consoles use a few thousand polygons, and density is likely to jump to hundreds of thousands with the next generation.

“The problem is that the mechanisms for making those characters and textures haven’t really scaled to make it easier to create all that complexity, so you just have to do a lot more work,” he said. Current development budgets for an A-list title average around $5 million, Doak  said. For the upcoming consoles, “I expect the minimum will be two to three times the current costs,” he said (…)

Source : CNEThttp://news.com.com/Game+publishers+sweat+console+change/2100-1043_3-5377871.html

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