Tuesday, July 23, 2024

Sony is convinced the PS4 somehow made PC gaming better

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A mini PC sitting in front of the PS5.Jacob Roach / Digital Trends

It’s hard to dispute that PC gaming leads gaming as a whole from a technology standpoint, but Sony disagrees. Mark Cerny, lead architect for the PlayStation 4, PlayStation Vita, and PS5, says that Sony’s consoles occasionally show “the way for the larger industry” in a recent interview with Gamesindustry.biz.

“I like to think that occasionally we’re even showing the way for the larger industry, and that our efforts end up benefiting those gaming on PC as well,” Cerny said. “It’s a tech-heavy example, but on PS4, we had very efficient GPU interfaces, and that may well have spurred DirectX to become more efficient in response.”

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That’s an astounding example considering the PS4 was considered underpowered even when it released in 2013, never mind the fact that the low-level DirectX 12 API (that’s the efficiency Cerny is referring to) was announced mere months after the PS4 released. It’s not hard to see where Cerny is coming from, but assuming DirectX 12’s low-level access to hardware was designed “in response” to the PS4 is a bit of a stretch.

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Somewhere Cerny has a little more ground to stand on is the SSD inside the PS5. “I believe that releasing PS5 in 2020 with a very high-performance integrated SSD put pressure on the PC world to get their corresponding DirectStorage API into the hands of their gamers.” Cerny is conflating the speed of the SSD inside the PS5 to the dedicated decompression hardware the console has, which is something that the DirectStorage API on PC answers with GPU-based decompression. Once again, though, acting as if features like DirectStorage were designed in response to the PS5 is taking the narrative too far.

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Today, consoles and PCs aren’t all that different. Both the PS5 and Xbox Series consoles use custom AMD chips, meaning they leverage an x86 instruction set architecture that’s on PCs. There’s a bit of extra hardware on a console — such as the aforementioned dedicated decompression hardware — as well as a custom operating system, but that’s it. That doesn’t make for a very convincing argument that consoles are somehow showing the way forward for gaming PCs.

Sony has recently ramped up porting its games to PC as well, even going as far as to support the DualSense controller, PlayStation VR 2, and the PlayStation overlay in Ghost of Tsushima‘s recent port. Cerny says that the “conversion has been simpler than many thought” for PlayStation games on PC, which I’m not sure most PC gamers would agree with.

Some early stumbles in Uncharted: Legacy of Thieves Collection and Horizon Zero Dawn disagree with Cerny’s point, and stuttering in Returnal is still present. Perhaps the most notorious example is The Last of Us Part One, however, which quickly gained infamy as one of the worst PC ports of all time.

Consoles have the advantage of bespoke software, which can, indeed, offer more efficient solutions than what’s available on PC. A closed box means you’re always working with the same hardware, so you can throw the battle of broad support out the window. It’s just tough to say that the inherent design of a console is somehow making PC gaming better as a whole.

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