Rant: Why I feel that cross generation game development needs to stop!

OK, keep in mind that this is a rant and all opinions are my own, obviously. With that out of the way I truly believe that the games industry would be better off with cross generation games and I think that most gamers would agree. If you aren’t familiar with the cross generation term in a nutshell it basically means to develop the same game on both the next-generation and current generation or in this case making games for the Xbox One and PlayStation as well as the previous Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3. 

So why am I so against cross generation game development and why do I feel it’s bad for the industry? It causes a rift in game console sales and while it does help prolong replacing your trusty console it also holds back any further development and progression for the next generation of consoles.

So here we go folks, Rant Mode…. enabled!

Was Watchdogs the result of cross generation game development?

Was Watchdogs the result of cross generation game development?

Why would anyone go and buy Destiny (or insert any title) for the PlayStation 4 or Xbox One if they can go pick up the same game for their current system? Sure it seems like a no-brainer to offer it to both generations but then you hold off the true ushering of that lovely next-gen gaming. The new consoles are expensive I agree and I would also agree that they aren’t worth it yet but cross generation titles are a huge part of the issue. Why would you get a new system if it didn’t offer you that “next-generation” feeling. If you look at all the games available for the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One you’ll see that a huge majority of them are in fact cross-generation games and are also available on their older siblings.

  • Battlefield 4
  • Watch Dogs
  • Far Cry 4
  • Tomb Raider
  • Titanfall (Xbox brand exclusive)
  • Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare
  • Thief
  • Forza Horizon 2

And that’ just a small list of titles that doesn’t include the upcoming cross generation games such as Mortal Kombat: XDragon Ball XenoVerse.  On top of that there is no cross generation multiplayer action either. You don’t see players who play Battlefield 4 on both past and current generation consoles on the same server do you? Not only does that cause a rift between gamers and even friends on different systems but it also forced the company that decided to develop that game on two generation of consoles to two different server versions. Sure it may not seem like a big deal but it is, the newer consoles simply would have an upper-hand advantage with a better frame rate (the better to snipe you with), better response times and the in the case of Battlefield 4, more on-screen players; PS3 only supports 24 vs PS4’s 64 player support.

So what’s the problem?

Cross generation game development is simply holding back the natural progression and as long as this trend continues we won’t be able to reap the benefits of our new shiny gaming systems. It while it seems that some companies are understanding this and have stated that going forth they will only make games for the PlayStation 4 or Xbox One other companies need to follow suit. Even several hugely popular game engines have already axed the past generation of consoles such as Epic’s Unreal Engine 4 or are actually developing cross-generation titles which the assistance of another development team; Mortal Kombat X is an example of that. However there are still others that will work on the past-generation of consoles such as EA and Dice’s Frostbite 3, which is still an issue as many of those games are scaled downed to the point that it will run on those consoles with respectable results; frame rate, graphical features such as moving grass, fire particle effects, water and reflecting, etc.  Even Techland got the hit and cancelled the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 versions of Dying Light, despite those versions being in development for months. Why? Too many compromises in the graphical department and Techland simply didn’t want any part of that and I congratulate them on that decision.

Far Cry 4 PS3 vs PS4 graphical comparison – here
Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare PS3 vs PS4 graphical comparison – here
Grand Theft Auto V Xbox 360 vs Xbox One  graphical comparison – here
The Evil Within Xbox 360 vs Xbox One graphical comparison – here

Sure it’s not a huge leap but imagine how big of jump it might have been if it was strictly developed for the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One (and PC). Wouldn’t it simply be better just to announce that they simply don’t want to penalize gamers by offering sub-par performance games and state that they will only support specific systems. Is that so hard or is it more of a “We’re here to make money” vs a common sense decision?

A example of this would be Ubisoft’s past of release, Watch Dogs. Do you honestly believe that if they had only focused on a PlayStation 4 / Xbox One / PC version that we would have been presented with a better version with better optimization across the board instead of the mess that we’re seeing now? I know some people would likely disagree with me but last years Grand Theft Auto V seems to look and plays better than Watch Dogs. Why cross generation a factor in this? I’m inclined to say yes. And yes people I’m well aware that Assassin’s Creed: Unity was a strictly current-generation affair and how bad the game runs. All I an say to that is that it’s Ubisoft and their track record as of late hasn’t been a stellar one, that’s all I’m saying.

Now I’m not saying that companies need to stop supporting the past generation of consoles and drop them like a bad habit, but there needs to be a breaking point where it’s decided that going forth if you want this game then you’re going to have to pony up for the next step. It would be no different than what’s happening on the PC gaming scene where most current and upcoming AAA titles are being developed with 64-bit operating systems in mind and where you can either upgrade or kiss those games goodbye. And trust me my friends that’s no small list as a growing number of developers that are going that route as the benefits are there for the taking such as more memory utilization (32-bit memory limit is 3.5GB compared to 64-bit memory limit of 512GB). 

Sorry guys but unless cross generation development goes out the window it will take longer to see your better sides.

It’s a harsh reality and one that needs to be realized sooner than later if we want to see the silky smooth 1080p and 60 FPS that we want to see and deserve to see. I want to see this happen and regardless if you disagree with me you know that it’s something that needs to happen.

Thankfully it’s been moving towards that direction but at a slower pace than I’d like to see. Both the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One have been out for a year now and other than a handful of games that actually scream current-generation, I’ve been pretty disappointed of what we’ve been given as of today. Here’s to hoping the list of upcoming games will change this and I really have my fingers crossed here. I loved my PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360, they gave me a bunch of enjoyable gaming moments but now it’s time to for them to move over and let their younger siblings show us what they’re all about. That plus I want to see some sort of investment of buying the latest and greatest consoles and not having them sitting on my entertainment system and only turning them on them every so often.

What do you think about the matter? Am I completely off key here or have you been thinking the same thing as well? Let me know @keithdmitchell or @theouterhaven.

P.S, I am hyped as hell for Bloodborne!