The hardware inside the PlayStation 4 is quite obviously more powerful than that of its eight-year-old predecessor. But Sony’s newest console owes more to its success than just specs. As Wired found in an in-depth look at how the PS4 was designed, it has the creator of Marble Madness to thank.
Mark Cerny, as Wired points out, was an unusual choice for Sony to lead its PS4 team. He’s a software guy, the person who helped usher Crash Bandicoot, Ratchet and Clank, and dozens of other top-tier games into existence during his tenure at Sony. But it’s what he noticed in helping developers work through the overly complex PS3 architecture that made him the perfect man for the job. As Cerny explained to Wired:
“When PlayStation 3 wrapped, we all started to do post-mortems. It was pretty brutal, frankly,” Cerny remembers, saying it was “very, very difficult” for software designers to build games for the console.
The result? A PS4 design process that focused less on pure power than on functionality. An industry-standard x86 processor instead of the PS3’s labyrinthine Cell chip. A dedication to massive RAM — 8GB of GDDR5, to be precise — and an eagerness to involve developers from day one.
The real question — how the PS4 stacks up to the Xbox One — won’t be answered until the consoles are actually in the hands of reviewers and gamers, and probably not even then. It takes time for developers to take full advantage of a new console, especially ones with as much horsepower as these two are flexing. But the PS4’s origin story certainly gives the impression that if nothing else, it’ll be a platform people will want to make games for.