What challenges face those developing for multiple SKUs?
Kenny Linder, a former employee of shuttered Sony UK studio Bigbig, has spoken a bit about the challenges of developing for multiple Xbox One SKUs. This comes off of Microsoft’s rumoured plans for multiple Xbox One SKUs, with the 4K output touting Scorpio apparently out in 2017.
Speaking about developing for the new Xbox One and PS4 despite their similar architectures, Linder said that it was a bigger issue on the QA side. “Yep, that will be where the main issues will lie. Additional TCRs and testing requirements.” More testing is something that is expected for multiple SKUs but TCR (Technical Certification Requirement) may be a big issue for game developers. Given Sony’s possible stance on games that need to be shipped both on the base PS4 and NEO at the same time, getting games certified will take much longer than the usual process of getting certified for only a single SKU.
However Linder believes that upgradeable consoles isn’t necessarily bad. When some one pointed out that working on multiple SKUs of one console could be a terrible idea, Linder noted that, “It’s no different to working on PC or mobile.”
Linder also stated that mobile development is probably a better example for comparison, especially given the number of different “fixed” platforms for iPhone. “Android sucks because there are so many versions. iPhone is a better example as its multiple FIXED platforms. Developers will have to have scalable games, where I imagine (if they’re smart and sensible) they will build for base, then to extra little bits and pieces for the more powerful version,” Linder said.
It will be interesting to see how developers will adapt themselves to what is possibly a new era for console gaming. Iterative hardware is certainly an interesting initiative, unless and until developers push out unoptimized code for the base SKU.