Thomas Mahler, a developer on Ori and the Blind Forest, has created quite a stir recently in the last few days, thanks to his comments alleging that the Xbox Scorpio will be a full fledged generational upgrade, and calling the PS4 Pro is ‘half assed.’ Now, in what seem to be the final bunch of posts he has made on this topic, Mahler has tried to clarify what he meant when he called the Scorpio next gen once and for all, stating that the traditional understanding of discrete generations no longer applies- on either the Xbox or PlayStation side.
“It’s pretty clear where things are heading – here’s my prediction: When Sony announces their PS5 (which will probably happen after Scorpio releases), you’ll hear that it’ll also be compatible to your entire PS4 library (since it’s – like the PS4Pro – going to be another hardware upgrade based on the same architecture),” Mahler said. “You’ll also see games that are going to be announced that will not be exclusive only to the PS5, since it just hurts developers. A new console comes out and we go from a hardware platform that has 50 or so million installed units to, say, 5. So automatically, I would reach a MUCH smaller audience. So a lot of games will still be ‘forward-compatible’ – whether Sony forces that or not will be up to them.”
Speaking about how this change will no longer make any functional difference to game development – until now, a new generation has been a full reset for developers, and provided them a new baseline spec to work for – Mahler pointed out that no games now exist that couldn’t have been scaled back to work on existing systems- and given the scalability of game development pipelines, having rolling hardware upgrades won’t result in any changes.
“Are there any next-gen games out there that purely in terms of gameplay couldn’t have been done on a last-gen console? I have a hard time coming up with any,” he said. “Devs will just have to treat consoles like PCs, having multiple hardware configurations that they’ll adjust their games to. Having to make this distinction between ‘cross-gen games’ or ‘well, those were DIFFERENT games cause they were shipped for different boxes is just really bogus. Wouldn’t you have preferred to buy Titanfall ONCE and then being able to play it on your 360, PC, Xbox One – Instead of having to buy a separate version? That’s EXACTLY what Microsoft is doing here. You buy a game for the Xbox Platform, which means you’ll be able to play it on any of the Microsoft platforms.”
Mahler also apologized for his remarks about the PS4 Pro and clarified that it wasn’t his intention to offend anyone. “This is the second time already that I took part in some discussion on GAF only to then see something I thought was a somewhat innocent comment (again, calling a platform half-assed definitely wasn’t the nicest way of putting things, I know. I’m not a native English speaker and sometimes my wording can come off as a bit rude) to blow up in my face after the press picked up on it. I’m just a dev who loves games and take part in these passionate discussions 🙂 Sorry if I offended anybody, wasn’t my intention!”
Generally speaking, I can see what Mahler is saying, and I even agree with it- in fact, I made this point last year, when I pointed out how traditional gaming console generations may be coming to an end.