Marvin Donald, the game director for Darksiders II claims that the studio that works on the game is forced to do “wacky stuff” to get things running on Sony’s bestselling console. He said “It’s a pain in the ass to work on. Five years later, getting used to it? That means it’s a pain in the ass. I’m not an engineer but I hear about it all the time. We have to do wacky stuff with the way we manage memory.”
Early in the PS3’s release, developers were complaining far and wide about the hardware’s complexity and it would take a long time to figure it out properly so that it could be used to its fullest potential. In an odd statement, SCE chairman Kaz Hirai said that the PS3 was intentionally difficult to program for in order to ensure that it would meet its ten year life cycle.
This is akin to claiming a game has 200 hours of gameplay because you need to grind for items and levels. Hirai was also quoted as saying “We don’t provide the ‘easy to program for’ console that they want, because ‘easy to program for’ means that anybody will be able to take advantage of pretty much what the hardware can do, so then the question is ‘what do you do for the rest of the nine-and-a-half-years?”
Donald went into the technical reasons it was difficult: Memory management. Consoles have limited amounts of RAM, and they run into serious problems when that RAM is exceeded. If you’ll remember the Genesis and Sonic and Knuckles, there were many games that would simply not work with the lock-on technology. This was because the game + the lock on would cause the Sega’s palty 4MB of RAM to be exceeded, and fail to load.
“Even as an artist, it’s like, OK, my textures are too big, I’m in trouble because I checked in something that’s making the 360 crash because it’s a 2048 when it really should just be a 1024, or even smaller. But on the PlayStation 3, the assets go into different categories, and if one of those categories becomes too bloated it’ll crash the system. It’s a little bit more sensitive on the PS3 in that regard. There are some things you just can’t do, or you have to do differently. Yeah, it’s a pain.”
The problem here is that Sony intentionally made a console difficult to program for so it would be hard to make things at first, but developers would improve with time. Well here lies an answer to the ridiculous question involving nine and a half years. You make sequels, you make spinoffs, you make completely new games. The PS2 had games being made for it through its entire lifespan. Three Devil May Cry games were released on the PS2, as were three Kingdom Hearts games, and I think four or five Shin Megami Tensei games as well. For a chairman of a videogame company, Hirai is very good at proving he knows jack about the industry.