“There’s not the extreme surprise or the unexpected quality that I felt from the leap to previous consoles,” says studio head Atsushi Inaba.
There’s been no shortage of developers in the industry that have spoken highly of the technological advancements Sony and Microsoft are making with the PS5 and Xbox Series X respectively, and what those advancements could mean for games and their development as we move forward into the next generation- but it seems like not everyone is as high on the upcoming hardware.
PlatinumGames’ studio head Atsushi Inaba – who has previously gone on record saying that he thinks the upcoming next-gen consoles are essentially “more of the same” – says that while he’s excited from a developer’s perspective about having better technology to work with, he thinks the improvements being made with the PS5 and Xbox Series X are unsurprising, and don’t bring about the kind of major leaps that past generations have brought about.
“If you think back to the generation between Super Nintendo and PlayStation, and how we went from pixel art to 3D polygons… nobody could have ever imagined that a few years prior,” Inaba said in an interview with VGC. “When that stuff started coming out people were just blown away: they weren’t ready for it, they weren’t anticipating it… it was just so new.
“Whereas I feel that the announcements that we’ve had for recent consoles generations, while all good and interesting, and of course I’m happy for us as developers to have better technology to work on… it’s a ‘perceivable’ future. There’s not the extreme surprise or the unexpected quality that I felt from the leap to previous consoles. Now I see the announcements and I think, ‘oh, that’s cool’ and then the next minute I think, ‘hmmm… what should I watch on Netflix tonight?’”
After clarifying that this is just his opinion, Inaba went on to elaborate on that statement, citing the innovations Nintendo made with the Switch – or the DS and Game Boy before it – as an example of the kind of exciting new features he thinks the PS5 and Xbox Series X are lacking.
“But that’s just my personal opinion,” he said. “As an industry, it’s all very promising and I don’t want to be perceived as too negative. But to give another example of my point, the Nintendo Switch was very ground-breaking in how it was able to just to take a home console and make it portable. It’s something that you hadn’t seen a lot of people doing before: it took this wall, that perhaps a lot of people didn’t know even existed, and broke it down.
“Switch opened up all these new possibilities. I think the Game Boy and the DS also did that: there were so many surprises in those. If you compare that to when you’re simply seeing graphical improvements or just ‘faster, bigger’… obviously it’s nice, but it doesn’t have that same inventive quality that really surprised me with past consoles.”
“We haven’t seen everything from next-gen at this point, I think, and it’s still very likely that there could be a quality like that in these consoles that’s going to kind of be a game-changer, that’s going to change how games could be played,” he continued. ” And if that is the case, then maybe they’ll blow me away. So I don’t want to sound like, ‘hey, I know everything about the new consoles and they’re boring’. But with the information that I have now, I haven’t seen any extremely big surprises.”
While the hardware of the PS5 and Xbox Series X is, of course iterative – which is the approach that Sony and Microsoft usually take, after all – it’s worth noting that advancements being made with SSDs and improved CPUs could have a tangible impact on actual game design, which could prove to be an exciting shakeup for all concerned. Whether or not that ends up happening probably isn’t something that we’re going to find out too soon, but it’s something that’s going to be worth keeping an eye on nonetheless.
PlatinumGames are also gearing up for next-gen, having started working on a new in-house engine that will allow them to leverage newer and more powerful hardware properly for their games in the future. Read more on that through here.