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Devs hope for more freedom, openness on next-gen consoles
Devs hope for more freedom, openness on next-gen consoles Exclusive
March 30, 2012 | By Staff

March 30, 2012 | By Staff
More: Console/PC, Exclusive, Business/Marketing

One advantage that games on PCs, social networks such as Facebook, and even mobile phones have over those on traditional video game consoles is the ability for their creators to change and manipulate their worlds on the fly. Thanks to the relative freedom these platforms provide, games can be constantly updated to improve performance, fix bugs, balance mechanics, and keep players playing longer.

On traditional consoles, not so much. Game developers have been traditionally hampered by the bureaucracy, endless forms, and prohibitive cost that come with updating a console game once it's available to purchase, often at the expense of the game's quality.

"It's sometimes expensive, there's an awful lot of bureaucracy, even when you want to do quite small things," David Polfeldt of Ubisoft Massive, the studio behind the upcoming Far Cry 3, tells us.

"If I agree with [a suggested fix], I start to think 'Oh yeah, to change that I would have to -- oh shit, it's just too much work.' And I won't change it even if I think [the feedback] is right."

Polfeldt is not alone. With the next generation of video game consoles seemingly just around the corner, Gamasutra polled game developers and publishers on what they'd like the console makers to offer, to help them do their jobs better. Unsurprisingly, eliminating a lot of the red tape and allowing a more open development platform was a common theme among those we spoke to.

"I think that'd be really helpful [if the consoles were more open], because certainly we're seeing a change in models in games toward more freemium content, and a quicker response to your community," says Crytek's global business development director Carl Jones.

"You can be very successful with a game by giving a game away for free, and then giving players the content they want. And if they really want it, and are really enjoying it, that's when they'll pay for it. That's appropriate. Why shouldn't we do it like that?"

Jones argues that current generation consoles make it more difficult for developers to update games than mobile and online platforms, as they have to go through a prolonged period of submission. He believes that taking this less flexible approach with freemium titles is "more than likely to kill games off."

Christian Svensson, SVP at Capcom Entertainment, wants to see more open consoles, too. "I'm hoping for a much more fluid means of providing updates to consumers, being able to have a much more rapid turnaround in between when content is submitted and when content goes live to consumers, to provide a higher level of service to them," he says.

"I'm hoping that the networking and the processes in the future are built with that in mind. I'd like to see more server-based backends that are more under publisher-developer control, rather than being forced through systems that are bit more pre-defined by the first-party. That would enable experiences online that are not currently available in today's console marketplace."

Jones, however, is careful to make clear that he's not suggesting next generation consoles should be as open and Wild West as the PC. "We're always going to need quality control," he admits. "We're going to need a decent submission process, to get the first version of a game out, and make sure it's solid and everyone gets a good experience."

"But during that period, if developers can be generating content that they know they can shoot out really quickly, on demand, well, I think the tail of that game becomes longer, the overall revenue from that game becomes higher, and everybody wins," Jones says.

The full feature on what developers want from next generation consoles, which includes comments from other big companies like Epic Games and EA DICE, is live now on Gamasutra.

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Nate Steger
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Sadly, due to the business/development models Microsoft, Sony, et all have in-place this will most likely not be the case. Developers are asking for something that rings true for more of a PC development style/control/feel, etc.

Joe Zachery
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I agree with this if we are going to have to pay for Hard drives. How about letting the developers use them for something other than game installs. Still if they would just make games correctly from the jump you wouldn't need patches. It seems this generation a lot of games have been rushed to the market.

Jonathan Murphy
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It's time to set the foundation for improved business relations with new companies. But that means taking less of a royalty cut for smaller devs. There are too many indie games that don't get reviewed by the main stream press, let alone advertised. Great games like Gemini Rue fall off the radar. It would be smart if they followed Valve's business model more.

Day one DLC, online passes, monthly fees, fixed prices hinder the consumer's ability to buy other games with spare cash.

k s
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Given big corporations love control and openness leads to less control I don't see any of the next generation consoles being any more open then they are now.

[User Banned]
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This user violated Gamasutra’s Comment Guidelines and has been banned.

wes bogdan
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If the rumors are true about ps4 and xbox next not supporting used games,no last gen support,and everything tied to your tag so word of mouth is also dead because i can't play my games on your system- that alone could damage events like major league gaming where many gamestations are set up for play.

If wii u can play wii games i expect @ least ps3/360 to be supported on their successors.

All the news i've been hearing makes me feel like the next gen sans wii u will be in lockdown mode,remember the current gen is the longest running gen and selling someone on ps3 or 360 than saying ,"oh i'm sorry we no longer support those systems-buy our new stuff which we then won't care about either?!!"

System loyality,fans etc will riot ,feel burned and send many hateful letters to both ms and sony.

I can't imagine it'd be hard to put the gpu/cpu on a dye and then on the next system to ensure bc. Wii might come off the big winner again as the only system with bc which doesn't burn it's briges as it goes.

The next gen is upon us but even with ps2 HD remakes on ps3 as well as ps3 games they're all used games in sony's eyes uncontroled and likely unplayable on ps4 which is too bad as they'd be a boon to ps4's launch-look at how many games we can play and while 360 lacks the quantity of last gen updates the same holds true increased number of launch games.

I really hope sony / ms don't drop support for the longest runing gen to date as in the current econimy the next gen will sell slower,stock will be high and sell throughs low as many will be fine on ps3/360 and many more outraged they need 2 boxes hooked up where 1 should do the job of 2. Good luck to us all but next gen sounds terrible so far.....more like thanks for your support now buy our new stuff or go home.

Remember by killing used games the industry may be killing consoles-if ps4/720 don't play used games then gamestop could simply decide not to carry them or @ least no midnight launches so watch for their response.

Myself i believe gamestop should give $5-10 per used game to the industry for the first 12-36 months depending on how long it's hot/sellable then everyone would win because that $5-10 is barely more than tax on the sale but the original developers would still see more money.

I really hope the next gen isn't in lockdown out of the gate as that's bad for everyone.

wes bogdan
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Btw uncharted:ga,unit 13 are in a default only club with no southpaw mode @ all.

This is a problem as i can't play without southpaw and even more so because sony bend developed the advance mode which vita southpaw should be based on.

In resistance,dark mirror and logan's shadow your face buttons were mapped to the d-pad,freelook was the (left)nub stick and move was on the face buttons which on vita would be move on right stick and face buttons as d-pad.

I assume the reason vita to date regarding 1st/3rd person shooters is a default only club is because of the 5" gap and trying to cross it n back or stop moving and die neither works.

In default freelook and the face buttons are side by side so why is it southpaw should be any different especially with screens being added southpaw will only work in a mirror default mode so in southpaw both the sticks and d-pad/face buttons must do a full face swap.

Otherwise it doesn't matter how the next gen turns out as i simply wouldn't be able to play it.

Mark Ludlow
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It's kind of funny that developers are asking for more openness on their end while the current trend is for the console to lock it down even tighter on the user's end.

Joe McGinn
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Good article. Gaming has evolved to the point where these things aren't even optional. It's not nice to have. You are killing many viable games with the submission process, especially for updates. Modern online developers like Riot deliver major content updates every two weeks, minor tweeks more often, and emergency fixes in 24 hours or less. This is the reality of 21st century software customer service. Get used to it. Microsoft, Sony, and Nintendo can either get on board with this reality - or be buried by it.