updated 11:20 am EST, Thu March 8, 2012
Epic Games pushes for faster PS4 and next Xbox
Epic Games is concerned that Microsoft, Nintendo and Sony might let Apple take over in gaming by being too conservative with their hardware, the developer's VP Mark Rein said in a discussion this week at the Game Developer Conference. The Bulletstorm and Gears of War creator told CVG his company was "constantly pushing" hardware designers to make high-end systems to give a clear incentive to pick their systems over what Apple makes. Rein liked Apple, but he didn't want TV gaming to disappear by eroding the gap in experiences.
"We really like the big screen, home console experience and we really like iPad gaming," he said. "We like all these gaming experiences and we don't think consumers want them to go away. The only way they're going to go away is if they don't stay true to what they are. The console gaming experience is about delivering something that's way out past the bleeding edge and subsidising it through the software royalty model -- just like Apple does with the phones. It's not that much different."
Rein wasn't immediately worried that console designers would slip, but he added that Epic had tried to set an example. Unreal Engine technology demos like Samaritan (below), which push the limits of existing hardware, show the potential from pushing hardware. The particular demo needs at least a modern Intel Core chip and three GeForce GTX 580 boards to show not just extremely detailed character models but advanced lighting, focus, and particle effects that would previously have been limited to pre-rendered movies.
Console makers aren't necessarily following suit. Nintendo's Wii U is in flux but is expected to sit somewhere between the current generation and the next Microsoft and Sony systems. Worries persist that the next Xbox may have just mid-level graphics, although AMD has been alluding to cinematic quality visuals. Sony's next PlayStation has had few leaks, but a desire to avoid the the PS3's infamous $499 and $599 starting prices might see it cut costs.
Apple has carved out a space in gaming partly because of its much more aggressive hardware schedule. Microsoft, Nintendo, and Sony are content to go several years between revisions, but Apple updates most iOS hardware annually and has rapidly caught up. Rage developer id Software's co-founder, John Carmack, has said that the iPad can rival some Xbox 360 games. Epic, during the new iPad's introduction, said the tablet had more power in some areas than both the Xbox 360 and PS3.