Craig Alexander, Turbine's VP of product development, spoke today at a panel during GDC Austin called "MMOs to Consoles", saying that the fifth generation of MMOs will be on consoles and even called it a "superior" platform.
"It's the 360 and the PS3 where we really finally have the hardware and the storage capacity to develop what we consider more traditional MMOs with lots of content," he said. "The hardware in the Wii more closely resembles the previous generation than the current one. It's just not there yet."
To point out the development steps, he provided slides showing the process - and told attendees that from a developer's standpoint, working on PS3 was harder than 360, so start with PS3 and go from there.
- The Blu-ray drive on the PS3 is actually slower in seek and access time than the DVD drive on the Xbox 360. Once the Blu-ray gets up to speed, it can handle large amount of data. Just not in seeking and accessing, which is a pain for streaming when you're playing something like an MMO.
- The memory architecture is different. When you're dealing with main memory, you work with "256ish MB" on the PS3 vs "512ish MB" on the 360.
- The tools aren't as friendly on the PS3. That includes the performance monitor tools, the debugger tools ... everything.
- Migrating a project from the Xbox 360 to the PS3 is much harder than moving from the PS3 to the 360.
Alexander feels that since it took MMOs ten years to mature on PC, MMOs will "revolutionize the console in the same way they helped grow the PC."
Full thing through Joystiq.