THE BUZZ: It was Gears of War that many credit with helping convince Microsoft that their Xbox 360 needed to include 512MB of RAM instead of 256MB, but that isn’t the only time developer Epic has helped to shape the future of gaming hardware.
In a new interview with Develop, Epic’s Mike Capps talked briefly about his company’s efforts to try to make sure the upcoming generation of gaming hardware would be the type of platforms developers want to create games for. He said that a year ago they had the intention of trying to influence hardware specifications for what would be coming out next, but at this point he can’t say if they’ve done that or not—a sneaky way of avoiding having to reveal which of the future platforms his company has directly seen or dealt with.
As for what the folks at Epic are hoping for from a next Xbox or PlayStation, Capps says he see great importance in making sure the consoles clearly show technology that cannot be done on the current crop of systems. They also, Capps continues, need to have a much better ecosystem for providing developers, publishers, and consumers with robust, east to use digital download options.
“Right now we’re not even allowed to change the prices of virtual content,” Capps told Develop. “We’re not even allowed to set the prices. I just don’t think this protectionist approach is going to be successful in a world where the price of virtual items changes on a day-today basis.”
“Double-A games will never come back unless we get rid of this notion of a game being $60 or not released. The console manufacturers need to let this happen.”
Hardware isn’t the only important factor of game development, however, and Capps admitted that Unreal Engine 3 came out later than the company should have planned for.
“I want Unreal Engine 4 to be ready far earlier than UE3 was; not a year after the consoles are released,” Capps says. “I think a year from a console’s launch is perfectly fine for releasing a game, but not for releasing new tech. We need to be there day one or very early. That’s my primary focus.”
EGM’s TAKE: There’s a delicate balance console manufacturers must find between bending over backward for game developers, and making a piece of hardware that is good enough for a realistic price point. Once we know actual details on how the next generation of gaming hardware is going to shape up, it’ll be interesting to see which companies had what influence on which pieces of hardware.