Launch titles for the PlayStation 3 are already "getting up close" to the 25GB limit on current Blu-Ray discs, according to Sony's worldwide studios boss Phil Harrison, who was responding to criticism of the PS3's adoption of Blu-Ray.
"Already, at our launch titles, we're getting up close to the 25GB limit that we have on our Blu-Ray discs this year," he claimed. "Next year we'll raise that to 50GB, and I'd expect that weâll be getting close to that in the fairly near future as well."
Speaking in an interview with GamesIndustry.biz journalist Rob Fahey, Harrison decried suggestions that the Blu-Ray drive had been included in the machine purely to push Sony's agenda with regard to Blu-Ray movies.
"It's got nothing to do with movies," he responded. "DVD is not sufficient capacity to power the kind of data consumption, or to feed the data consumption needs of Cell and RSX - just purely as a gameplay device, we need Blu-Ray to supply the kind of data that PS3 games use."
Harrison also responded to questioning about the claim that the capacity of Blu-Ray will be used simply to provide more high definition movie sequences, effectively filling the discs - and games - with non-interactive content.
"It's not just about graphics," he said. "It's about 7.1 audio, it's about speech, itâs about having up to 1080p movies built into the game; it's high res textures, it's animation, it's everything that goes into making a very rich and varied next-gen experience. Partly it's visual, partly it's sound, and partially it'll be down to gameplay benefits as well - more levels, more detail, richer experiences."
However, he also defended the right of developers to include rendered video in their - a key feature of many titles, even on next-generation systems.
"I see nothing wrong with having non-interactive, full HD sequences as part of the game," he said. "That's all part of the production value and the experience that you get when you buy the game. I don't see that as a weakness at all."
The Blu-Ray drive in the PS3 has been blamed both for contributing heavily to the cost of the system, and for causing the production delays which ultimately led to the decision to move the European launch back to 2007. Microsoft has accused Sony of taking choice away from consumers by including Blu-Ray - the Xbox 360 will have an optional external HD-DVD drive, although this can only be used for movie playback and will not be accessible to game developers.
Meanwhile, some consumers have questioned the value of Blu-Ray to videogames, given the ability of developers to fit games on the scale of Xbox 360 and PC title Oblivion onto a single DVD - although it should be noted that Oblivion, despite its scale, is a relatively early next-gen title. Many early titles in the previous generation shipped on CDs, but DVDs were widespread within a year to eighteen months, as developers learned to exploit more of the systems' functionality and streamlined the content creation process.
Harrison acknowledged that some early titles will not make full use of Blu-Ray's capacity, but was adamant that the standard will be vital to the PS3 in the coming years. "Not every game is going to fill 25 or 50GB," he said. "I completely accept that - but there will be games that require that this year, and will push that further in years to come."
Phil Harrison was speaking in an exclusive interview on the PlayStation 3, which is currently being serialised on the recently launched ThreeSpeech website, with additional excerpts set to appear on GamesIndustry.biz in the coming days.