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!

4 Responses

  1. Avatar
    Good ol' JS

    I think the slightly better question is why everyone moved away from PC, be it a simultaneous PC release or releasing for the PC at all. GTA V is a great example. The former generation got it first, then the current gen, now a year and a half after release, PC. Why? Destiny is another great example…why not put an MMO on PC? Is it that gaming companies are so afraid of mods that PC is now a second class citizen? Or is it the lower install base? Honestly I don’t know and I don’t care. PC Gaming may not be as appealing to game publishers but it should be. They make money from games years after release and there’s virtually no second hand market.. This should be a publisher’s wet dream not nightmare.

    • Avatar
      Keith D. Mitchell

      I’ve always wondered that and it’s always come down to several key points;

      1. Piracy – No matter how you slice it, someone will always bring this up as a main reason not to publish a game on the PC platform. And the sad part about this is that not everyone pirates and eventually those “pirates” will spend the money on a PC title if it’s worth it. Steam allow has proven that this isn’t case, legit gamers are there. Now add GOG, Origin and countless other services that sell PC gamers.

      2. The old stigma that gaming on the PC is hard and restricted – Have you ever entered a conversation and the first thing out of someone’s mouth about PC gaming is that you’re restricted to a desk, crappy speakers and a small monitor? I encounter those in daily basis, which I love to debate as I get to show off my HTPC gaming setup. Most people tend to live in the past but the realization is that PC gaming has never been easier to get into.

      3. Deadlines and publishers – I think about point is that while developers may want to put their games on the PC, it ultimately falls down to the publisher who dictates the time, contract and other items for a game release. Many still don’t see the PC as a viable platform, though those times are changing and we’re getting games that were once console exclusive on the PC.

      • Avatar
        Good ol' JS

        Here’s my biggest counterpoint. The games (especially for Xbox One and PS4) are developed, tested, and often debuted on PC(See any E3 presentation).

        More to your points
        1) We both know is a garbage excuse as pirates have the consoles as well

        2) I’ve been yelling at people for years that my rigs were plugged into my LCD/LED TV for couch gaming. But then again, if I see another post about how someone’s Celeron based laptop won’t play Assassin’s Creed Unity, I may flip my lid. So while this is a valid point….it shouldn’t be.

        3) See big point above. It all came from and now runs on x86 platforms. It’s an incredible stretch to say…oh well we have to port X game to PC when it was already there. They may have tweaks to make to the UI and textures, but half the time they skip them and we get an Xbox port on PC anyway.

      • Avatar
        Keith D. Mitchell

        1. Agreed. They never seem to look the other way when it comes to console pirates. I’ll give that it is harder and more complicated to do.

        2. That’s always going to be an issue with PC gaming; Lack of common sense and setting the wrong expectations. If the damn requirements say it needs a specific type of CPU, memory and GPU… there’s a good reason for that. Overlooking it and complaining that said game won’t run because you ignored the requirements i on you, not the game or PC.

        3. There is zero reason for this other than again exclusives. Both the PS4 and Xbox One are x86 platforms. All that is needed is some tuning / tweaking and like you mentioned, damn near all games are developed on PC. So why aren’t they on the PC platform? The all mighty dollar and poor judgement.

        Don’t get me wrong I understand, I hate it but I understand. If everything went to the PC then there were be no reason to even produce consoles, which simply won’t happen… at least not yet. I expect the 8th generation of consoles to either be the last or the beginning of the end of the console run.