Sony and Microsoft revealed the technical specs for the PS5 and Xbox Series X earlier this week, and game developers are already starting to weigh in on which system seems more enticing to create games for. Based on the interest of developers in the hardware and technology, a surprising winner begins to emerge that you wouldn't expect based on stats like teraflops alone.
In terms of specs like teraflops and both the CPU and GPU, the Xbox Series X seems more robust. Even though it's slightly weaker, the capabilities of the PS5's extremely fast SSD is still impressing game developers. Some of the highest praise comes from Andrea Pessino, a Founder and Chief Technology Officer at Ready at Dawn, creators of The Order 1886, one of the PS4's most technically impressive games.
"Dollar bet: within a year from its launch gamers will fully appreciate that the PlayStation 5 is one of the most revolutionary, inspired home consoles ever designed, and will feel silly for having spent energy arguing about "teraflops" and other similarly misunderstood specs," he wrote in a Thursday tweet. Ready at Dawn develops mostly Sony exclusive games, so there's an element of bias here, and he's not the only case: developers from Naughty Dog and Sony Santa Monica (other Sony developers) also publicly proclaimed excitement.
More broadly, a January GDC survey of 4,000 developers, there was greater interest in the development of PS5 games than Xbox Series X games across the board. While Sony lost the teraflops battle, that may not matter in the long run. Developer Matt Phillips who's worked on various consoles even called the unit of measurement "utterly meaningless."
Some of the PS5's best features allegedly also haven't been shown off in great detail yet. This is backed up by recent comments on the Kotaku Splitscreen podcast, where journalist Jason Schreier said developers he's talked to have said, "The PS5 is so superior in all these other ways that they're not actually able to message right now, or can't talk about right now" ... "The PS5 is actually the superior piece of hardware in a lot of different ways despite what we're seeing in these spec sheets." The revolutionary Tempest Engine, for example, will be able to produce 3D audio that far surpasses even Dolby Atmos.
Not all developers are as wowed by the technology, however. Quantic Dream's David Cage has stated that "there may only be room for big franchises" on next-gen consoles "because they will be the most able to recoup their massive dev budgets" caused by more powerful specs.
Indie developer Bertil Horberg, known best for Gunman Clive, also wasn't impressed: "All that talk about streaming bandwidth, data duplication, and its effect on level design seems like a massive pain," they stated on Wednesday. "Admittedly Mechstermination Force has a bit longer load times than Gunman Clive but still just fits everything into memory and never unloads anything once loaded."
The Inverse Analysis
The general sentiment from most gamers this week following both specs reveals seems pro-Xbox Series X with the PS5 slightly behind, but Sony's console actually may be more beneficial to developers in the long run.
Sony's messaging has been a bit incoherent this early on. Developers are seemingly the only people truly impressed by the PS5's power That being said, if Sony can court developers and get some truly groundbreaking games on PS5, people may start to notice that a spec sheet isn't everything in a console war.