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Stolen Pixels #71: PS3 Exclusive Interview

By Shamus
on Tuesday Mar 10, 2009
Filed under:


Did you ever have one of those days where you wake up in an alley behind the liquor store, your money is gone, and all you have are some notes from interviewing a piece of consumer electronics?


Uh. Me neither.

Comments (29)

  1. Factoid says:

    This strip might succeed in finally generating Yahtzee-like numbers of commenters. Fanboys love a good rabble-rousing.

  2. Cat Skyfire says:

    Nice one. I think the PS3’s biggest mistake was not being backward compatible with the PS2. (Like the PS2 had been with the PS.) “Lessee, I have to hook up this system to play this game, then unhook it and hook up this other system to play my other 100 games….”

  3. Moridin says:

    Actually it originally was, but the DVD-player was removed to save money.

  4. JKjoker says:

    The hardware devs definitely drunk too much (and probably smoked and sniffed as well), just when developing a game reached impossible costs you make a console that increases dev time & costs in purpose …. further accelerating a trend that would inevitably lead to new games dumbing themselves down and turning into pathetic clones of the 2 or 3 only successful ones, squashing any attempt at making something new and interesting for sequels and raped franchises …. and you admit to it…. face palm ?!?!

    best of all some ppl keep talking about the “next gen” of consoles while i just can believe how doooooomed the current one is, only Nintendo made money out of this, wake up ppl

    oh yeah, prepare yourself for the future : IMAX-like consoles.
    whoooooo, it looks almost the same but the hardware costs 5 times more, its not a stupid justification to pump some oil into the stagnated graphic grinding machine!! how dare you make that assumption!?!?

  5. Factoid says:

    Huh? It still plays PS2 games and DVDs….

    What they took out to save money was the hardware PS2 emulator. PS2 emulation is now all done in software, which is imperfect but it works to a large degree, just like the 360 backwards compatibility emulator.

  6. Primogenitor says:

    I particularly found the T-shirt comment amusing, especially as I didn’t notice it till the last frame.

    Out of interest, where do you stand on using emulators for old hardware for games you legitimately own? E.g. PS2 emulator for PC. A sensible precaution against DRM-madness, or just an excuse for pirates to avoid paying for hardware as well as software? I’d be interested in a rant/article/commentary on that.

  7. Groboclown says:

    But wait! You forgot about how you can use it to run At Home networking tools to help cure lacynthropy! And how scientists can cluster them together to solve any Rubik’s Cube in 22 moves! Who cares if you can’t play games on it or find anything useful to do with it other than keep the door open to air out your room.

  8. Strangeite says:

    Great comic; however, I must take umbrage that you called Wild Turkey a whiskey. It is a Bourbon. While unenlightened fools would say that Bourbon is a type of whiskey, truely knowledgeable individuals recognize that Bourbon is the true elixir of the Gods.

  9. LazerFX says:

    Actually, that’s not all completely true…


    Basically, it’s as follows:

    NTSC (American) 20 and 60GB PS3’s – full hardware. These versions include full hardware ’emotion engine’ PS2 circuitry.

    NTSC (Americal) and PAL (European) 40GB models – no emulator. These versions do not include an emulator at all.

    80GB PAL and NTSC and 2nd revision 60GB PAL (European) models – software emulation. No hardware, but a software mode that is mostly capable of emulating PS2 games.

    Confusing, isn’t it?

  10. Nathon says:

    I think what the Sony guy in the linked article was trying to get across was that Sony’s initial investment in hardware will eventually pay off as the software catches up. I read some of the comments from the various fanboys (disclaimer: I neither own nor intend to buy a PS3) and after sorting through some doublethink it made a kind of sense. Idiotic, yes. But there could be a plan behind the idiocy. As the development tools for the PS3 mature, it will become easier to take advantage of their supposedly superior hardware. There’s a parallel with the PS2 that you’ve pointed out in your rants on PC gaming system requirements. Sony, in my mind, says: “If we drop a stake in the ground 50 feet in front of everyone else, we’ll be better positioned to take advantage of our experience by the time everyone else catches up.” That’s assuming they can foster an active enough of a development community to build the better tools. Frankly, I don’t understand why they didn’t build a good compiler to begin with. Or at least a good library around their special hardware functions. Maybe an OpenGL extension…I guess I’m unqualified to speculate, since I haven’t done the research to know just what it is about the platform that makes development harder. Oh well, welcome to the Internet.

    Anyway, the only person I know who has a PS3 got it as a blu-ray player. But now it sits in his basement because it’s too noisy and it consumes too much power.

    This makes me think that open sourcing the dev toolkit would be a good idea. Definitely not one that seems likely to fly at Sony though.

  11. Mari says:

    Factiod – I direct you to a bevvy of articles from mid-to-late February like this one indicating that the PS3s which use software emulation are now going the way of the ones that used hardware emulation (namely into a technological black hole) and the only new PS3s available retail are not in any way, shape, fashion, or form backwards compatible. You are, however, correct about them still having the DVD player.

    Thus, when it was time to buy a console for the kids’ room we went right out and bought…a new in box PS2. Yep, we have two of every single last gen console and no current-gen ones. Because, really, why would we spend all that money for a half-empty library? When the weight of games we want for current gen consoles exceeds the weight of last-gen games we still enjoy playing or haven’t finished playing yet we’ll figure out which of the sad, buggy overpriced consoles to pick up next.

    And it looks like LazerFX beat me to it. Yay redundancy!

  12. lebkin says:

    The initial price point really hurt the PS3. My belief is that Sony intended to crush the Xbox 360 and its early lead with sheer weight of brand. This method worked out well with the Dreamcast and the Playsation 2. But I think the price turned off a lot of people. I know it helped me make my decision between the two systems.

  13. JB says:

    There are more good games on PS3 than I have time to play. Streaming movies doesn’t give you a disc you can replay later, and the quality is not as good as blu ray. And if you take any other console and buy extra hadware for wifi, blu ray, blue tooth, hard drive etc. you will end up paying more for a system with less features.

    In my home system consisting of a PS3, PC, speakers, home cinema receiver and TV, the PS3 is the cheapest component.

  14. wererogue says:

    Don’t get me wrong, I’m not fond of the PS3 as a gaming platform – but it’s *freaking lovely* to develop on. Almost as nice as the XBox360.

    That’s mostly because Sony have put out some really, really good software, available for free to registered developers.

  15. Greg says:

    I guess the theory is that if games keep getting more and more ludicrous in their hardware requirements other consoles in this generation won’t be able to do the job that the ps/3 can. Then microsoft and nintendo (?) will need to release more powerfull consoles to match the next generation of games. At that point the devs have the choice between an established platform and new ones and will go with the established one.

    Not sure if that’d have any chance of working though. Guess we shall see.

  16. locusts says:

    Sony understands your concerns and will implement any requests in a future model. As a friend that used to work for them used to tell me, Sony stands for “Soon, Only Not Yet.”

    I do not know what the above statement has to do with the topic at hand, but it is what I always think of when someone mentions Sony.

  17. DaveMc says:

    Someone (I think on the late Game Theory podcast) once pointed out an amusing fact about the PS3 vs. the iPhone in terms of marketing and media-wrangling: they were both introduced at a price point of US$600, but the press headlines after their announcements couldn’t have been more different:



    HOLY F**K, $600 FOR A CONSOLE?!

  18. Cybron says:

    I must have his shirt.

  19. Jimmy says:

    @Nathon I think I understand what you’re saying. If that’s true then it’s a gamble on Sony’s part that they guessed correctly where hardware/software development trends are going. If they guessed wrong, nobody’s ever going to learn to take full advantage of the hardware.

    As I understand it, the main advantage of the PS3 (besides the blu-ray player) is the Cell architecture. The Cell architecture uses several microprocessors in parallel. So you know my credentials, I have a computer science degree, but no industry experience, so take what I’m about to say with a grain of salt.

    Parallel programming is a huge pain in the ass. For certain applications it can be extremely efficient, but a lot of the time it’s really hard to make efficient use of the hardware. far as I know, there’s no straightforward way to make it easier on developers either.

    That’s just my two cents though. Wererogue is probably the person to ask since he has experience developing for the platform.

  20. Face says:

    I’m kind of tired of the PS3 getting such a bad rap. I have two PS3’s, a Wii, and just got an Xbox 360. I find the PS3 to be much more affordable than the other two systems, which is why I bought the second one for my bedroom.

    Yes, the Xbox 360 is cheaper….BUT when I price it out to get what I have with the PS3 it is more expensive. My PS3 came with wireless and bluetooth connectivity…..the Xbox didn’t, so there’s another $100 if I want a wireless headset. The PS3 has a gigibit port (and I do have a gigabit network)…can’t even get that for the Xbox. The Xbox model I have does have a 60GB hard drive, but I had to pay extra for that model.

    And the PS3 plays Blu-Rays disks. I know that one gets bantied around a bit, but I do prefer to use the PS3 as an upconverting DVD player AND to watch Blu-Rays. The PS3 was cheaper than the mid-range Blu-Ray players. I’m almost ready to set up my NAS as a media streamer so now my PS3s can play music in the bedroom and living room.

    I have to add that I have found the PS3 to be a bit more intuitive to use than the Xbox. I know I’m biased since I’ve had a PS3 for a couple years now and I have a PSP, but I still find it easier to use on a very basic level.

    I find the controller for the XBox to be a bit clunky, but my friends who have both systems say I’ll eventually learn to prefer it to the PS3 controller. I’m a bit too cheap (believe it or not) to buy a second copy of a game I already own just so I can compare versions between consoles.

    Just because I’m big on the PS3 doesn’t mean I’m not a fan of the Xbox. I’m sure there will be many things I prefer about the Xbox….it’s just too new for me right now.

  21. Nathon says:

    I’m going to show my ignorance some more, but oh well. I do actually have some experience developing for multi-processor systems (way more than 8 cores) so I can see where that would be harder for developers. On the other hand, the industry is going to have to move to multi-core systems (kind of) like the PC industry. If the big thing that makes it harder to develop on the PS3 is the fact that you’re doing multiprocessing, then I’d say Sony’s doing something right. This assumes that Microsoft and Nintendo don’t use multiprocessing, but if that’s true then when they do move to it, it will be easier for developers to stick with Sony’s architecture and mature tools than to learn to use the new ones from the competition. Now I’m curious. I think I’m going to go read some specs.

    On the other hand, maybe some PhD student will come out with a good optimizing multicore compiler by the time the other console makers leap to multicore and the whole thing will be moot.

    I do know that most GPUs are actually very pipelined many-core chips with specialized instruction sets. Draw whatever conclusions you want from that.

  22. Marmot says:

    I would have preferred the expression: “Playstation 3 sneers at your limited definition of success!” but it’s great!

  23. Lalaland says:

    I got a Euro launch unit and felt ripped off for at least 6 months until I realised it was a great media unit. Now I know there are a lot cheaper ways of achieving the thing but it plays Blu-Ray discs which are simply better than streaming or upscaled DVD. Whether you care that they are higher quality is an argument I won’t get into but for me as a film enthusiast the extra detail is just worth it. I stopped feeling ripped off once the software finally arrived and now that cross platform is more of a six-of-one-half-a-dozen-of-the-other situation I’m mostly satisfied. I’ve always been intrigued by Sony’s design decisions and their love of parallelism with all the pain that brings. There is an argument that the rise of multi-core systems in the server space is spreading the knowledge and experience of software level parallelism but will it result in ‘better’ looking games long run who knows. As a hardware geek I love it’s obtuse purity and as a movie geek I love the high quality AV experience it offers. The 360 is a great machine with some titles I’d love to try but I just can’t justify two ‘hardcore’ consoles to myself.

  24. Ferrous Buller says:

    I just want to say that Trav’s t-shirt succinctly encapsulates everything I loathe about self-professed “hardcore” gamers. Were I the sort of person to punch people in the face solely for wearing a t-shirt, I would punch anyone wearing that shirt.

    [Cybron, you are on notice.]

  25. Peter H. Coffin says:

    In addition to the whole “But some of them DO play PS2 games” comes the “But it does play streaming media” discussion, both audio and video. So for the hassle of one expensive, heavy console (how often does one move it anyway?), one ends up with a functional library of both new and old game titles, a blu-ray player, a media console that just wants a uPnP server to feed it. Which can live elsewhere in the house.

    And honestly, I don’t notice the noise of the thing. The heat, yes. I used to joke about Pentium-II Spaceheaters, but this thing is better at keeping the living room nice and toasty in the winter.

  26. Sheer_FALACY says:

    Sony phrased that incredibly poorly.

    C is a more difficult language than many. But it’s ridiculously powerful and fast. So people use it. They could have tried to say that about the PS3 – that it was hard to program for because you could do so much with it. But no, they said that it was hard to use because if you couldn’t figure out how to use it you didn’t deserve to. Which is incredibly stupid.

    And mine is backwards compatible. I can’t believe they’re removing that, considering the massive library of PS2 titles available.

  27. Mari says:

    Eh. For the people that care the lack of backwards compatibility going forward (heh) won’t be much of a hurdle. They’ll do the same thing we do at our house: spend hours researching on the intrawebs to find the single model that has the least hardware and software crashes and the most compatibility then buy it for an inflated price off of eBay after weeks of shopping. For the rest of the world, they’ll buy what’s on the shelf at the store and be fine with it, probably blissfully unaware that it could be any other way.

  28. Avilan the Grey says:

    AFAIK, there is another major problem now, DRM style:
    A lot of new Blueray movies do not play on PS3, apparently. The disc does not accept the PS3 as a valid player…

  29. Christian Groff says:

    I’m saving up for a PS3, but only because my favorite series has a game that is exclusive to it, which is Disgaea 3. I guess I could pick up Little Big Planet too, but that’s going to probably be the brunt of my PS3 library. Honestly, Sony, $400 for a game console that heavy? Well, I need the exercise anyways. LOL.

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