Epic: Next hardware generation must have “dramatic leap” in quality

By Brenna Hillier
2 February 2012 00:53 GMT

A little bit of extra grunt under the hood of the next PlayStation and Xbox isn’t going to be enough to satisfy Epic Games boss Tim Sweeney.

“You should only replace the hardware when you can make a dramatic leap in quality, not just two times or three times. It has to be huge and fundamentally new,” Sweeney told VentureBeat.

That’s not to say Epic isn’t ready for new tech.

“The longevity of this console generation has been a mixed blessing. On the game side, it’s been really great for our business. With each new title, there is a bigger and bigger Xbox 360 installed base of users, so the games can sell more. On the other hand, it gets harder to generate the same excitement from the same hardware. That is when the new hardware is justified,” Sweeney said.

Epic’s Unreal Engine is an industry mainstay, and as such, Sweeney said the developer is proactive about ensuring upcoming tech meets its needs.

“The really important thing that we do long term is work with the hardware manufacturers like AMD, Nvidia and Intel and really talk deeply about their long-term roadmap,” the CEO noted.

“Not just what’s coming next year but what’s coming out in two years, five years from now. Where is the industry going to max out? We give each other a lot of feedback and can have considerable impact on their direction.”

One such piece of “considerable impact” was Epic’s exhortation to Microsoft to double the Xbox 360’s RAM from 256MB to 512MB.

“And they came through. They put in extra memory and that is one of the reasons we were able to make Gears of War look so compelling,” Sweeney said.

“Without that extra memory, we would have far less space for details. That decision cost Microsoft about $1 billion, but you can say that it paid off big time. They would not have succeeded to the extent they have today if they had not done that.”

At GDC 2011, Epic wowed with the Samaritan tech demo, which it positioned as a target for console manufacturers to aim for with next-gen hardware.

Thanks, IndustryGamers.

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