When it was confirmed that Sony would shift from Cell to x86 it caused quite the stir amongst the Playstation fans. Some were excited, others frustrated.
But what will it actually mean for you as a gamer?
This is not an article where the technical differences of the architectures will be discussed. That's for the engineers to argue about. Instead we break it down into the topics that matters most for us gamers, starting with:
Ah, the exclusives. The pride of any platform.Many believe that their excellence on PS3 were all due to the hardware, and therefore worry that the exclusives will no longer shine like they used to do.
I am here to tell you: Thou shalt not fear.
It is the incredible skill and experience of the developers, art directors, managers and designers of Sony's first party studios that deserves the praise. It's the software that shines, and this will be demonstrated in full effect come next gen. Our platform will still house the shiniest exclusives.
Of this there are no doubt: The multiplats will run better now.
And seeing how an overwhelming majority of the major releases today falls into this category this is obviously a big deal, something to really look forward to. This time around it will not just be a question of if they "run as good as on the competitor" as we often hoped for during the PS3 years, but rather, "will it run better ?!"
The indie scene
This is an interesting one.
The indie scene is incredibly important, not only for the games they produce but because it is amongst the indie devs of today we find the developers of tomorrows major AAA releases.
And in a world where the major games are increasingly expensive to make, the room for releases from independent developers also increase. It is reasonable to expect great things coming from this scene, and they all primarily work on tools built for development for the x86 atchitecture. It's what they know. It's where they got their experience. The change to x86 can be seen as one giant open invitation to the entire indie scene.
Do the Playstation 4 risk being less secure or easier to hack due to the shift to the x86?
No. The security of a system is not found on the architectural level, but in the system that runs on it. In regards to PSN the security of this network is not related to the architecture of the consoles, so it's unchanged.
The 'hidden powers'
This is as close to a "PS3 meme" as we can get. The fabled "hidden powers". Will there be none of that now that Sony no longer "designed their console to be hard to develop for"?
Let me right away say that I personally don't see a problem in enjoying the capacities of my new console as soon as possible. I only see that as a positive. The sooner the developers gets to fully master a platform, the sooner they can start being real creative. And that's the stage I want to get at asap.
That said, all computers today are complex beasts, and incredibly capable. There's always plenty of ways to get something done, and any computer today can be said to hold "hidden powers" for the developers to find. Cause really, "hidden powers" only mean "the potential to achieve more through better code". And that is nearly always there.
But will it take six years to get to a proper level? No. Thankfully not.
What about the "soul of the Playstation", then? Will that change now with the architectural change?
Many has expressed such concerns, but the architecture has very little to do with how you perceive the identity of a platform.
Let me ask you this:
What are the differences between Apple Macs and Windows PCs?
The Apple computers with their Os X are running smoother, looking better, is a more advanced and modern computer, right?
Well, they are both running on the exact same architecture. Yup. You can install Windows or Linux on a modern Mac.
Up until 2005 Apple based their machines on their own PowerPC architecture. Then, in said year, they changed to x86. A story very similar to what Sony has done now. Apple did not lose any of their identity during the transition.
Neither will the Playstation.
Playstation 4 will still be running Sonys operating system, connect to PSN, run Playstation games and look fantastic while doing so. Just like the PS3 did before it. It's still a Sony, and it's still very much a Playstation.
The next Playstation is on the way. We are ready. Are you?