In a month’s time, some of the largest markets in the world will vote with their wallets about which console is better. I will still be waiting and saving. But which console gets the developer’s vote? Is one console easier or better to work with than the other?
The reality is that most developers find the actual development on both consoles to be pretty much the same. In fact, they’re so similar that it seems silly to even have two consoles! Resident Evil’s Shinji Mikami says:
There’s no real difference between them. We only need one console. Why do I have to make two versions of a game?
And Comcept’s Keiji Inafune concurres:
I don’t think there’s a major difference between them […] It’s not like PS4 or Xbox One are particularly hard to develop for. Quite the opposite: you can make whatever you want on either one, and that should be enough for anyone.
Okay, so if the development itself is the same, are there any differences between the consoles as far as developers are concerned? Well, yes, of course. That differences is in policy and support, something that Sony is far better at. When it comes to indies, the IndieStation PlayStation 4 has been giving technical and financial support for years – this is still a relatively new thing for Microsoft. This means that some rules and policies are not 100% clear.
Developers simply do not know if they will be allowed to manage their own patching schedule, or if they will be subject to Microsoft’s certification checks. This could be an issue for cross-platform games. Even big titles like Titanfall could face trouble if PC patches become available weeks or months before Xbox One updates. This could cause even more of a headache for smaller studios.
I can’t help feeling like the Xbox One launch was rushed – they hadn’t planned on announcing or releasing when they did, but were forced to because the PS4 was announced. Policies feel rushed or vague – I just hope that Microsoft can think on their feet and offer developers the clarity and support they need.