PS5 architect Mark Cerny discusses the increasing development time for AAA games, suggesting that designing a new console may now take less time in comparison.

Building a Console May Now Be Quicker Than Developing Games

In the evolving landscape of video game development, the time required to create a major AAA title has significantly increased. Mark Cerny, the hardware architect behind PlayStation 5, has become a prominent figure in this conversation, addressing the shifting dynamics within the industry. Cerny, who has a long-standing reputation in game and console design, recently shared his perspectives on the current state and future of gaming hardware and software development.

During discussions, Cerny highlighted a concept he refers to as the "time to triangle," which measures how quickly developers can present graphical outputs after beginning a new project. Historically, reducing this time has been a focus, aiming to streamline the development process. However, despite technological advancements that hasten these early technical steps, the overall timeline for developing AAA games has lengthened considerably.

In recent times, the creation of a top-tier game demands at least four years, with more ambitious projects stretching to six years or more. This extension is driven by developers' desires to build expansive, intricate worlds and experiences, which require extensive time for development. CernS told game industry media that while tools and processes have evolved to allow faster initial development phases, game creators choose to invest more time to achieve their artistic and technical visions.

The implication of these extended development cycles is profound, especially in terms of consumer expectations and industry timelines. Gamers are increasingly experiencing longer waits between major releases, leading to periods of dissatisfaction where anticipated titles remain in development. This frustration was evident in events like State of Play and Summer Game Fest, where the gaps in major new game announcements were felt among the community.

Moreover, the lengthening game development timelines have an interesting ripple effect on console development cycles. Cerny speculated that designing the next generation of consoles, potentially the PlayStation 6, might actually require less time than the development of games meant to launch alongside it. This shift raises questions about the alignment and planning strategies between hardware innovations and software readiness.

As the industry looks forward, developers starting new projects must keep an eye on future hardware that might only become standard several years down the line. Cerny’s insights suggest a coming age where software development cycles could increasingly influence the planning and rollout of new hardware. Typically, new consoles enjoy a "cross-gen" period where games are released both for the existing and new systems, easing the transition for consumers. Looking ahead, similar patterns are expected around 2027 when the next big console transition may occur.

This evolving scenario presents both challenges and opportunities. Developers have the chance to push the boundaries of game design and storytelling, utilizing the extra time to polish and refine their work. On the other hand, they must manage community expectations and maintain engagement over the lengthy periods between game releases. For console designers like Cerny, these trends offer a chance to rethink the pace and timing of hardware development to better sync with software cycles.

The ongoing dialogue between advancing technology and game development methodologies continues to shape the future of gaming. As tools improve and ambitions grow, the industry must balance innovation with the realities of production timelines, ultimately defining what the next era of gaming looks like. Whether designing next-gen consoles or creating blockbuster games, the goal remains to deliver exceptional experiences to players worldwide, even if the path to get there is longer than ever before.

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Aaron Chisea

Hey there, I'm Aaron Chisea! When I'm not pouring my heart into writing, you can catch me smashing baseballs at the batting cages or diving deep into the realms of World of Warcraft. From hitting home runs to questing in Azeroth, life's all about striking the perfect balance between the real and virtual worlds for me. Join me on this adventure, both on and off the page!

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