Gaming Algebra: EA(2K)+PS3=1/2 X360Shawn Drotar

Posted on July 2nd, 2007 in Gaming, Xbox 360, Playstation 3, News, Opinion by Shawn Drotar

In the wake of Bryan Intihar’s jaw-dropping revelation on 1up.com, it’s clear that the Xbox 360/PS3 battle is still raging, and at the moment, the (football) field has tipped 90 degrees towards Microsoft’s sculpted white box.

In the article, Intihar revealed that the three major football games to be released this fall from EA Sports and 2K Sports will run at 60 frames per second on the Xbox 360, but only half that on the purportedly-superior PlayStation 3.

While this news might be met with a shrug by non-sports gamers, it shouldn’t be - the fact that the world’s largest third-party game manufacturer can’t coax the PS3 to perform at the 360’s pace bodes poorly for other releases, regardless of genre.

How could this happen?

Well, some of it is obviously due to the relative newness of the PS3 platform. But the biggest difference is clearly middleware. Microsoft provides not only its ballyhooed XNA software, but a complete and robust set of tools to make coding for the 360 a breeze. On top of that, the clearly-defined parameters and rules of Xbox Live mean that developers can basically plug-and-play in regard to their online functionality.

In contrast, Sony essentially hands out dev-boxes and wishes them luck.

“Now, you’d think Sony would be doing everything in its power to make sure these system-sellers are par with - or better - than Microsoft’s version. That’s not the case, as Sony seems to have a ‘hey, we can do it — why can’t you?’ attitude.” — Bryan Intihar, 1up.com

As a result of releasing first and being relatively simple to code for, the Xbox 360 has become the “code base” for almost every next-gen multi-platform title, and while games aren’t total ports, we’re looking at a reverse of the situation with the PS2/Xbox, where games were developed for the PS2, and prettied up a bit for the Xbox version.

But since the difference between the 360 and PS3 is much smaller than it was in the last generation of hardware, the difference between any given game on each platform is expected to be small - if it’s even noticeable at all.

That’s why it’s so surprising to see this happening - the PS3 has more than enough raw power to match what the 360’s doing. To see games run on Sony’s box at literally half-speed is shocking. But I wouldn’t say that Sony has a real problem on their hands unless it happens again next year… and it might.

“If your game starts on Xbox 360, you will have to re-engineer aspects of the game to run properly on PS3. This means additional effort. Some developers have been complaining about this, but I don’t believe we can solve that.” — Dave Karraker, senior director of corporate communications, Sony Computer Entertainment America.

That’s all well and good, but here’s the catch: as development costs continue to rise, it becomes increasingly unlikely that development houses will be capable of dedicating two separate teams to build a game from the ground up for each “next-gen” console. Instead, they’ll build to the lowest common denominator, which is probably the Xbox 360, and focus on the platform that’s moving more units - which at this point, is unquestionably the Xbox 360. If these noticeable performance differences keep manifesting themselves, the Xbox 360 will have a distinct advantage, and the PS3 may end up running on a treadmill, exhausting itself by having to go faster and faster without really moving forward.

I’ve been on record as saying that I’m a big believer in the PlayStation 3 as an entertainment platform. However, given the current situation, if you don’t have a PS3 already and can live without Blu-ray DVD capabilities, Motorstorm, Resistance: Fall of Man or MLB 07: The Show, it’s getting harder and harder to find a compelling reason to buy one at this point, isn’t it?

10 Responses to 'Gaming Algebra: EA(2K)+PS3=1/2 X360'

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  1. Crazy.Stanley said,

    on July 2nd, 2007 at 5:12 pm

    Great write-up Shawn. It’s going to be very interesting to say the least.

  2. SLAYER said,

    on July 2nd, 2007 at 8:02 pm

    “In contrast, Sony essentially hands out dev-boxes and wishes them luck.”

    Where’s the mention of Playstation Edge?

  3. Shawn Drotar said,

    on July 2nd, 2007 at 9:05 pm

    Slayer,
    First - this particular issue seems to demonstrate quite clearly that Edge isn’t nearly enough. We’re not looking at penny-ante developers here, this is EA - and Madden, the 800-pound gorilla of gaming, having these troubles.

    Second, Karraker himself understands that Sony doesn’t compete with Microsoft in the middleware world yet, noting that Microsoft “provides more and better standard libraries for online gaming to developers. For the same features on PS3, developers have to do some extra work. We’re catching up, but there is a difference.” - QJ.net, June 14, 2007

    Right now, there’s simply no comparison, and the proof is right in front of us.


  4. on July 3rd, 2007 at 9:51 am

    Nicely said, Shawn…

    I am very intrigued in watching this battle play out, and seeing how the Wii also impacts this generation of systems. One has to think that the 360 will win this gen, and time will tell if MS makes the same mistakes Sony did going from PS2 to PS3.

  5. Brad said,

    on July 3rd, 2007 at 12:42 pm

    “The Show, it’s getting harder and harder to find a compelling reason to buy one at this point, isn’t it?”

    Not really. I have a nice working PS3 at home while my 360 is sitting on a UPS truck on its way to Texas.

  6. Ted (DXZeke) said,

    on July 4th, 2007 at 4:04 am

    It’s all and well if you have a working PS3 at the house and a 360 on the way to Texas and I’d be mad too since the pool of games to pick from to play just shrunk down too almost nothing.

    I really want the PS3 to succeed.
    That’s why I’m really disappointed as a consumer and now becoming mad at 3rd party companies that are going to short change the PS3’s power and just give us sloppy ports of the 360 version.

    Sony has shot themselves in the leg thus far. Some people will disagree. If you compare the games that were released in the spring on the 360 it gave that system a shot in the arm that Microsoft needed. Spring has come for the PS3 and now the Summer is here. Where’s Sony’s shot in the arm? That’s great if they can move a bunch of hardware units that satisfy Sony, but the consumers are stuck with very few games…. it’s almost as pathetic as what the Wii has available for it.

    Sony has back themselves up to a wall and I’m not really sure they’ll ever get away from it… I’m glad that I’ve got a working PS3, but half the time it’s a $600 paper weight. That’s not how I want to view my gaming systems.


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