In these past six months, we got a barrage of news related to next-gen consoles. We learned about what kind of hardware Sony’s PlayStation 5 and Microsoft’s Project Scarlett will pack. But it seems PlatinumGames’ head, Atsushi Inaba remains unenthusiastic and somewhat skeptical about the choice of hardware in next-gen consoles.
2019 and 2020 will no doubt be very important for the video games industry. These two years will mark the transition into a totally new era of gaming thanks to modern hardware. There is a lot of excitement built up with next-gen consoles such as Sony’s PlayStation 5 and Microsoft’s Project Scarlett utilizing the latest tech. But Platinum Games’ head, Atsushi Inaba is not impressed with the choice of hardware in next-gen consoles.
In a recent E3 2019 interview with Video Games Chronicle, Atsushi Inaba, Executive director, and producer at PlatinumGames expressed his lack of enthusiasm about the choice of hardware in next-gen consoles.
According to Inaba, the reason for his lack of enthusiasm about the next generation of gaming consoles is this move towards ‘off-the-shelf’ architecture.
In May, Sony revealed specs for their next-gen PlayStation 5. The PS5 will have a CPU and GPU powered by AMD. They also revealed that they will have a custom SSD for faster loading times. Then just a few weeks ago at E3 2019, Microsoft officially unveiled Project Scarlett’s specs. Project Scarlett will also have the same GPU and CPU designed by AMD. It will also have an SSD to cut down on loading times.
With both of these consoles having similar hardware, it makes industrialists like Inaba wonder where the innovation is.
Previous generations of gaming consoles used to heavily customize their chipsets or even develop them on their own. But now, as these consoles are utilizing chips from manufacturers like AMD, there is a lack of innovation according to Atsushi Inaba.
New consoles are made up of “stuff that… already exists”, he said.
He later elaborated on this by saying:
It’s OK. And by that I mean, I’m sure that things will move faster, graphics will be better and maybe it will be easier with less wait times… that’s good for the consumer.
But it’s more of the same, quite frankly, compared to previous generations. It’s nothing that’s disruptive or super innovative if you ask me.
He added: “Game hardware used to be about custom chips that you couldn’t do on PCs. Now you look at it and they’re just grabbing stuff that already exists.”
Atsushi Inaba also uses Nintendo’s portable gaming console, the Switch, as an example.
The Switch, for example, is a Tegra which already existed and the other consoles are using very similar chips and graphics cards to what you see on PCs, but maybe slightly updated. None of it seems unique to that hardware anymore.
As companies are essentially using off-the-rack hardware in their gaming consoles, Inaba is more excited about the “innovation” in cloud gaming platforms such as Google’s Stadia.
“It’s hard to get excited about stuff that kind of already exists, but has been repurposed to a certain degree,” he said.
That’s why for me, things like cloud platforms represent innovation and something very, very different – they’re platforms that excite me and where I feel there is a lot more innovation happening.
And Atsushi Inaba’s thoughts on this are very interesting because according to its specs sheet, Stadia is using a custom 2.7GHz hyper-threaded x86 CPU with AVX2 SIMD and 9.5MB L2+L3 cache for its CPU. Its GPU is a custom AMD GPU with HBM2 memory and 56 compute units, capable of 10.7 teraflops. It can be argued that Stadia is more like PC than console due to its cloud computing nature.
In any case, there is still a chance Atsushi Inaba is underestimating the power and potential of next-gen consoles. It is likely Sony’s PlayStation 5 and Microsoft’s Project Scarlett can still achieve a lot even with their similar specs. There is also an ongoing rumor that Sony’s PlayStation 5 is more powerful than Project Scarlett.
It will be interesting to see if PlatinumGames can achieve some innovation with Bayonetta 3 when it releases for Nintendo Switch in 2020.