Sony's Dave Karraker has used the recently launched
PlayStation.Blog website to give his company's take on ease of development for the PS3, admitting that Xbox Live has more robust online infrastructure, but noting: "It’s not that PS3 is harder to write for, it’s just that you can do more with it."
The new entry
is entitled 'Is the PS3 Really Harder to Develop for?', and uses a GamePro article as the jumping-off point for Sony's product development group to comment on the thorny issue.
The group initially claims: "If the game starts life on PS3, then man-hours per feature or costs related to asset production are comparable with industry norms", going on to suggest: "Since PS3’s Cell processor allows MORE features - better physics, more complex graphical processing, lighting or sound, etc. — there is inevitably going to be more cost in supporting those extra features. It’s not that PS3 is harder to write for, it’s just that you can do more with it."
Correctly harnessing the parallel SPU processors in the Cell chip is one of the most difficult parts of PlayStation 3 development, according to multiple sources, and the PD group at Sony weighs in on this: "SPUs are not ‘normal’ processors like the PPU. There is a trade-off between performance and versatility. A Ferrari is not the best car for a visit to Home Depot."
They also claim, pointing to the PlayStation Edge toolset
as an additional help for reducing graphics pipeline complexities between SPUs and the RSX graphics chip: "Compared to PS2, the SPUs are much easier to code for. In PS2 we had some custom chips called VU0 and VU1 which were powerful, but tricky to write for."
Finally, ease of conversion between the Xbox 360 and the PlayStation 3 is addressed, a key part of many cross-platform games in today's market. The Sony developers note: "If your game starts on Xbox 360 you will have to re-engineer aspects of the game to run properly on PS3. This means additional effort. Some developers have been complaining about this but I don’t believe we can solve that. Xbox 360 is a different machine with good, but lower powered hardware in a different architecture. Developers have to view them as two different machines not as a common platform."
Finally, Sony does concede that online infrastructure is currently done best on the Xbox 360, commenting: "XBL provides more and better standard libraries for online gaming to developers. For the same features on PS3, developers have to do some extra work. We’re catching up, but there is a difference."
: Gamasutra contacted Xbox's Director of Games Platform Strategy, Andre 'Ozymandias' Vrignaud for reaction, and, while declining detailed comment, he noted:
"Sony is facing the fact the Xbox 360 (thanks to being available a year earlier) is the default development platform for almost every game studio and publisher in the industry. It’s been built into the tool chain and processes, and primary development is happening on the Xbox 360 for almost every game you can find.
There’s a reason why the Xbox 360 version is almost always the version shown to press and analysts for new titles – often, the PS3 version isn’t even started yet, or is well behind in development."]