NEWS - Wednesday, January 26, 2005

(RUMOR) - PS3 To Have More Power Than Xbox2?

An Electronic Arts executive has indicated that Sony's PS3 will have more processing horsepower than Microsoft's Xbox 2.
Speaking to BBC News Rory Armes, European studio general manager for EA, said, "The rumours are that PlayStation 3 will have a little more under the hood than Xbox 2."
Armes revealed that EA development teams were already in possession of Xbox 2 dev kits but not Sony PS3 or Nintendo Revolution kits, lending credence to reports that Xbox 2 will hit shelves possibly before the end of 2005, and certainly before PS3 and Revolution.
He added that final technical specs for all three consoles have not yet been confirmed, making early development "a horrendous effort in the first year."
Nonetheless, Armes seems confident that PS3 is set to outperform Xbox 2. "We know maybe what PS3 will do, but we can only guess. Microsoft is obviously a software company first and foremost, while Sony has more experience in hardware. I think Sony will be able to push a little more into a box at cost."
The PS3 will use Sony's newly developed Cell chip technology, which has been developed in partnership with Toshiba and IBM. Early estimates put the chip's speed at 4.6 Ghz but the confirmed technical specs of the chip are expected to be unveiled at the International Solid State Circuits Conference in San Francisco next month.
Other than talk of using Xbox 2 as a home entertainment hub, some vague suggestions of dual processing and something called 'procedural synthesis', and the possibility of Xbox 2 coming in three versions (get the full, in-depth and scarily detailed rundown (here), Microsoft have stayed mum about the console's processing power. It's expected to be unveiled at E3 in May.
Similarly, Nintendo's Revolution has been the subject of rampant rumours (catch up here) but no official announcements have been made. It is also expected to be unveiled at E3.
Meanwhile, other developers have discussed what the next-gen consoles could hold for gaming with the BBC. Gary Dunn, development director at Codemasters, said, "We are working on new libraries of effects. We want to increase that level of immersion and realism in gaming to people can lose themselves in a game."
Simon Gardner, president of Climax's Action Studio, agrees: "It's definitely an exciting time. We want to give more freedom to the player. We want to give players an emotional connection to the characters they play. The environments will be much more believable and dramatic, growing and changing as you play.
Gardner expects game visuals to become far more akin to movies, a view which Gerhard Florin, head of EA Europe, echoes: "The PS3 will provide graphics indistinguishable from movies."
While this is a claim we've heard since the birth of videogames, it certainly appears that we're closer to the holy grail of the truly cinematic videogame than ever before.
Florin also has interesting plans for the way in which the next-gen consoles will be broadband ready, citing online game distribution as an important feature in the future of the industry. "A gamer could buy a starter disc for 10 Euros. When he goes home he goes online and he could buy AI and levels as you go. It's much smarter if you can get levels as you go."
It's an interesting idea and one that may win many fans amongst gamers annoyed at having to splash out big bucks on games. We'd be surprised if it happened, though - this kind of content on demand system would only work if the game was good enough to keep players interested, thus keeping them buying new levels and so on. We all know that an awful lot of games really aren't that good, and therefore it's unlikely publishers would want to damage their profit margins with unreliable content uptake.
Armes thinks the important thing is not to worry about the technology so much, but to concentrate on the game itself. "In some ways we are trying to forget about the hardware and go in the opposite direction," he said. "What we have to do as a company is start ignoring the technology and learning our craft in telling stories."

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