The original PlayStation was born out of Sony listening to developers and creating a platform that was as much for the creators as it was for the players. When doing research and development for the PS5, Sony did the same thing, building the optimal console for developers to work with. And system architect Mark Cerny says that the PS5 has seen “miraculously little pushback” from developers as a result.
Speaking with Wired looking back on the first six months of the PS5, Cerny talked about how he intentionally seeks out those with strong opinions when he makes his rounds to developers working with the console. This allows the team at PlayStation to focus on best addressing the problems and bottlenecks in the development pipeline at the console level.
“The conversations can be very contentious,” Cerny said. “I actively seek out the people who will have strong opinions, who clearly lay out all the issues they’re having with the hardware, so that we can get busy thinking about how we can address those in the future.”
Wired notes that the PS3 had a notoriously difficult graphics pipeline, and that complaints around the PS4 stemmed from a less powerful CPU than developers hoped for. But according to Cerny, the PS5 is seeing “miraculously little pushback” from developers in terms of major contention points that bottleneck development.
Why PS5 Developers Love the Console
Part of this is due to the intense work that went into developing the PS5 as a developer-friendly console, and opening up its power and capabilities to those creating games. Cerny talks about a story where he told one developer years ago that they might use a bit of Flash memory to help cache data on the PS4. He was quite literally booed, and they quickly abandoned that architecture choice. Similar hard conversations went into creating the PS5, and many of the major design decisions we’ve seen (such as the inclusion of the SSD, onboard audio processing, custom controller, etc.) all came as a result of mining those developer needs early on.
Cerny, even as the architect of the machine, is also amazed at how quickly developers are adapting to and utilizing the architecture in the PS5. He hadn’t expected ray tracing to be implemented into games by developers so quickly after launch, but was overjoyed to see six titles featured in the first public demonstration of the PS5 that all had ray tracing.
“I thought ray tracing was something that would be used in second- and third-generation titles,” Cerny said. “I thought that maybe an early title might show a little bit about the potential, and it would be one of those things where you’d be wondering, as somebody involved with the creation of the hardware, ‘was this worthwhile to be put in, given the associated cost in silicon?’ And to have that question answered the very first time titles were shown in public was amazing.”
Even with how satisfied developers seem to be with the PS5 overall, it’s clear that Sony is taking feedback seriously and looking for the pain points that developers face. How these conversations will manifest into a potential mid-generation refresh or even system software updates to the current PS5 are yet unknown, but rest assured that Cerny is actively seeking out the places where developers may not be satisfied. For now though, it looks like the PS5 is a huge win for those creating the games, which means it’s a huge win for the players as well.