Sony: Future platforms will be developer-friendly

Working culture completely overhauled since Kuturagi's retirement and the launch of the PS3, says Yoshida

Sony's internal software developers will be getting much more input into the design of future PlayStation hardware, according to Worldwide Studios boss Shuhei Yoshida.

Including games developers in the hardware design process is a significant change from the creation and launch of the PlayStation 3, when Sony Computer Entertainment was overseen by 'father of PlayStation' Ken Kuturagi, working with an enclosed team in Japan.

But since Kuturagi's retirement, Kaz Hirai - a more software-focused executive - has created a more inclusive business at SCE, pulling Japan and the full Worldwide Studios teams closer together.

"That has made a huge, huge day to day difference, and a month-to-month and year-to-year difference," said WWS president Shuhei Yoshida, in an exclusive interview published today.

"Actually, I'd say that Move was the first platform project that, from day one, from the very conceptual stage, had Worldwide Studios involved. WWS was involved before SCE's hardware guys were involved. It was between Richard Marks, the SCEA R&D group and Worldwide Studios teams - they started looking into next-gen motion gaming, and tried every different kind of technology, including 3D cameras and other motion capture technologies like magnetics or ultrasound," he detailed.

"That's a totally, totally different approach from the days when Ken was running the company. As soon as Kaz took over Ken's position, Kaz told the people in Japan that from now on, they had to talk to Worldwide Studios about anything about the platform, and get our feedback on any decisions. I thought, "wow"!"

Both the PlayStation 2 and the PlayStation 3 were criticised for being difficult hardware to get to grips with, but Yoshida said that games developers will have much more input on the tools and operating system for the next PlayStation console.

"Not only do we give them input, but Worldwide Studios' tech teams are part of the platform OS and tools development. That's a completely new world as well.

"Our central tech groups, the WWS tech groups, have been making game engines or tools for the studios in the group - but now they are part of the tools of development and the low-level middleware library development. That means the future platform, the PlayStation platform tools and OS... At least part of those will actually be developed by game developers."

Yoshida himself has been instrumental in bringing the company together under Hirai's vision, enabling the teams to collaborate closely where before there was no structure to communicate.

"I had never been that kind of process. People understood Kaz' vision, but they didn't know what to do, or who to talk to," said Yoshida. "They had set milestones in terms of developing hardware. I felt like I could uniquely go into that group of engineers in Japan and suggest a new process - interject the right kind of software teams to the right kind of hardware issues that need solutions.

"I felt that, because they didn't have to talk to us when they were making hardware decisions previously, they might feel like the process took too long if they had to go through additional steps. I was afraid that they might not like it. But what's really exciting, for me, is that I have found that they really, really embraced the relationship. They always wanted to make hardware that great games could be made for - but they didn't know who to talk to. They were making decisions with very limited insight from the software side, regarding what kind of hardware features or tools would make game developers happy."

This new working culture is proving successful for Sony, with hardware and software teams able to give feedback to each other at the prototype stage and better understand each other's needs.

"Not only were we able to say, yes, this feature is good, or this other feature won't be necessary - we could show examples, the reasons why some features are more important than others," added Yoshida. "We could use our game concepts, our prototypes, and show them the reasons.

"Then it becomes really clear in their minds - they understood that they had to make Move's response time as good as Dual Shock, in order to make it adaptable to all kinds of games. That kind of technical decision can now be made with direct insight from gaming teams. The engineers say that they're so glad to hear these things - they can't think of any other way of making new hardware, now."

The full interview with Shuhei Yoshida, where he also discusses Move and why projects such as The Last Guardian and GT5 have such long development times, can be read here.

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Latest comments (8)

Thomas Sigrist11 years ago
LoL ... as a little hardworking man all I can say is this. Asian buisness arrogance. They produce and sell with no consumer and wonder when their stuff doesn't sell. That's why western country's will never reach the perfection in massproduction. We are to much connected to the customer.
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Mike Reddy Course Tutor BSc Computer Game Development, University of South Wales11 years ago
I'd certainly volunteer to be involved with the PS4/PSP2 development, as an educator and researcher in future technology. Mind you, this type of involvement needs to happen at the hardware stage to truly be valuable in creating a better product. Rear touch screens? Meh
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Consoles are machines, machines are tools, games developers use other tools to create games that encourage people to buy these "console" machines. Games are the vehicles which enable people to enjoy the potential of the consoles and the public buy consoles because of the software they can or hope to be able to consume not just because of the machine itself.

I find it weird that in our industry the machine itself has had so much press dominance for so long, when in fact it is, on it's own, with no software astoundingly dull.

It is a truth that great roads, like the German autobahns, allow us to enjoy driving great cars. Top quality LCD TV sets allow us to enjoy great movies and great concert halls enable us to enjoy great bands.

So why is it that we don't hold roadmaking, TV manufacturing and Concert Hall erecting companies in as much esteem as we do the cars, Movies and Bands that perform on them... because ultimately thay are not very interesting without the content.

However in the games console world the manufacturers have gone out of their way to ensure whatever happens they are always the star calling all the shots. This does not have to be the case (and was not always the case with home computers, I might remind you). I would be happier to see these companies sit in the background and (Like Colonel Tom Parker) take their money on the back of their stars (the games and developers and publishers of these games) and support and encourage top performances from them.

As we are starting to see with the luxury of some time to reflect on 35 years of domestic gaming ultimately it is the great games that people remember and talk about more than the machines that enabled them or the people that made them. Unfortunately for the console manufacturers, publiushers and developers, like it or not, this is human nature...... now I wonder who out there can remember the make of TV on which they first watched Doctor Who.

Edited 2 times. Last edit by Jon Hare on 20th September 2010 4:55pm

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Show all comments (8)
Private Industry 11 years ago
A more difficult hardware has also it`s advantages. There are still games that push the hardware further without using all the power so the games are constantly improving. Compared to the 360 where the limit was reached some while ago and games don`t improve really much from a technical point of view, I take the more complicated hardware for the longer life cycle and more constant improvements of the games.

In regards to tools there is clearly things left to do for Sony.
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Jamie Watson Studying Bachelor of Games & Interactive Entertainment, Queensland University of Technology11 years ago
i wonder what MS will think of this.... its a good idea in theroy but will it be a succussfull vision/concept for companies other than sony?
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Thomas Luecking11 years ago
The switch from a technology push approach to a more market oriented and integrated new product development is a transition Sony is going through for years. Their "stubbornness" towards global trends was one of the main reasons why they got killed in the market for portable music players. Although they are a global company their Japanese culture is very much present in all regional headquarters all over the world. It is a very difficult task for such a large organization to establish more transparent and open innovation processes. At the end of the day it needs the committment of the senior executives to push something like that within such an organization. And apparently that's what is happening. I am confident that they will stay successful in the future.
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Blessing Tsanga Studying Games technology, University of Portsmouth11 years ago
Werner Nemetz, please don't be onesided(its a bit unwise honestly),
the fact that the ps3 was hard resulted in more expensive development, thus killing less well financed studios

anyway nowadays ArtStyle beats High-end Graphics
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Private Industry 11 years ago
Products that sell very poor or poorly made games kill studios (i.e. Haze) not the fact that the PS3 was harder to get into at the beginning. I`m not aware of any developer that had to close just because PS3 development was more expensive at the beginning.

From a consumer point of view I rather have a technological advanced system that tries to push hardware further. The difficulties at the beginning for making games for the PS3 is not new, the same comments where made for PS1 and PS2 that developers where complaining at the beginning about the difficulties of making games for it.
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