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PS5 & Xbox Series X Game Devs Have a Problem — Current-Gen Consoles

Last Updated September 23, 2020 2:24 PM
Thomas Bardwell
Last Updated September 23, 2020 2:24 PM
  • Digital Foundry’s John Linneman reveals a ‘painful’ process for developers working to bring titles to both current and next-gen consoles.
  • Developers reportedly have no interest in developing ports for seven-year-old hardware.
  • Sony and Microsoft have taken opposing approaches to releasing cross-gen games.

Developers are reportedly struggling to bridge the generational gap when it comes to shipping out cross-gen titles.

According to Digital Foundry’s reputable John Linneman, developers are going through a ‘painful’ process  trying to downgrade PS5 and Xbox Series X games for their respective current-gen counterparts.

On Twitter, Linneman explained:

“One weird thing I’ve noticed lately is an aversion of “next-gen” exclusives as if launching a game exclusively for a next-gen machine is “anti-consumer”. This is how it’s worked before – Mario 64 didn’t exist on Super NES and it was a great thing.

Business-wise, I fully understand the investments and desire to maximize potential customers. It’s absolutely logical. But I don’t feel going next-gen exclusive is somehow “anti-consumer” and am baffled by the insistence that it is.

Nobody wants to develop for an under-powered Jaguar CPU any longer. I’ve spoken with enough developers to know how painful the process is at this point. Leave Xbox One and PS4 behind.”

Scaling back next-gen titles is a ‘painful’ process. | Source: Twitter 

Developers reportedly have no desire to develop titles for what is effectively seven-year-old hardware. It makes sense; with all the potential of the next-gen at their fingertips, it’s understandable developers would shy away from returning to platforms they’ve pushed to their absolute limit.

Embark Studios programmer and DICE alumni, Liza Shulyayeva, backed up Linneman’s assertion, pointing to the complexity of supporting numerous platforms .

“Building & certifying games for a bunch of targets is hard regardless of hardware utilisation. Compatibility issues in SDKs & other tooling are a thing, as are staffing & infrastructure limitations. This isn’t a matter of clicking an extra button to support 10 platforms vs 9.”

Multi-platform support is no simple task. | Source: Twitter 

Sony and Microsoft’s Differing Approach

While developing cross-gen titles may not be to the liking of developers, there’s no shortage of games releasing on PS5, PS4, Xbox One, and Xbox Series X: Assassin’s Creed Valhalla, FIFA 2021, and Marvel’s Avengers to name but a few.

Among the major platform holders, Sony has firmly set its sight on the next-gen and is pushing out PS5 titles exclusively. On the other hand, Microsoft is aiming to smooth the transition for players by offering a glut of upcoming titles on Xbox One and Series X. Although, the aim of cross-gen support may not be as clear cut with Microsoft leaving the decision to developers.

In light of Linneman’s revelation, the news that fewer next-gen first-party Xbox titles than expected will also launch on Xbox One makes more sense.