Carl Jones, Crytek director of global business development
Frankfurt, Germany-headquartered Crytek, like Epic, is known for its strong emphasis on high-definition visuals and sound. The 600-person Crysis developer went from a studio that focused on PC titles to the multiplatform company it is today, working on PC, consoles and most recently, mobile platforms. As creator of CryEngine 3 -- which the company licenses to external developers -- Crytek also has a sharp vision of the capabilities of next-gen hardware.
"I'm not going to comment on any next-generation consoles, but let's say you're making a console [and you need our input]," theorizes Carl Jones, who heads up Crytek's engine licensing business.
"We'd obviously be saying, 'Get a really powerful GPU in there, let us be able to do GPGPU effects.' I mean, man, what we're going to see over the next couple of years on PC, with GPGPU, is just going to blow your mind. It really is an exciting, exciting time. [Crytek CEO] Cevat Yerli has come out before and said that this is the next renaissance of graphics programming.
"The guys are going to have the freedom to create bespoke rendering systems for whatever they want," he says. "You can have one rendering system for hair, one for skin, one for the bead of sweat on your brow, you'll be able to come up with complete solutions for each of those, and they'll be super efficient, running on high-end GPUs."
"So, I'd be saying [to console makers] definitely 'give us a lot of GPU to play with, and 10 times as much of everything we've had before, please. [laughs]"
More processing power isn't the only thing that Crytek is concerned with. The company is working with emerging business models such as free-to-play, microtransaction-based titles, most notably its online shooter Warface. But frequent, timely updates and new online business models are difficult within the "walled garden" of today's proprietary game consoles.
"I think that'd be really helpful [if the consoles were more open], because certainly we're seeing a change in models in games toward more freemium content, and a quicker response to your community," says Jones. "You can be very successful with a game by giving a game away for free, and then giving players the content they want. And if they really want it, and are really enjoying it, that's when they'll pay for it. That's appropriate. Why shouldn't we do it like that?
"... Certainly at Crytek, we think this is a very positive future for the industry, but it is certainly made significantly more difficult if to update your content you have to go through a prolonged period of submission [on consoles]," Jones says. "In fact, it's more than likely to kill games off."
But Jones is careful to make clear that he's not suggesting next generation consoles should be as open and Wild West as the PC. "We're always going to need quality control," he admits. "We're going to need a decent submission process, to get the first version of a game out, and make sure it's solid and everyone gets a good experience."
"But during that period, if developers can be generating content that they know they can shoot out really quickly, on demand, well, I think the tail of that game becomes longer, the overall revenue from that game becomes higher, and everybody wins," Jones says.
"So certainly, [allowing more openness] would be a move that would help everybody, but you can't let it happen at the expense of quality. ... It's always a balancing act, and we can certainly get faster [with delivering online content and updates]. I'm sure they're already thinking about ways where this could be possible."
Christian Svensson, SVP at Capcom Entertainment
It's not just the tech-focused game industry professionals who've had the new consoles on the brain. More business-focused people in the industry like Christian Svensson, SVP at San Mateo-based Capcom Entertainment, have their own set of next-gen expectations and wishes.
"The networks in general are going to become increasingly important to the future of our content offerings, and the services we offer around them," predicts Svensson. "I think you'll see continued migration to games as a service, and increasingly less discrete products."
"I'll tell you something I'm hoping for," he adds. "I'm hoping for a much more fluid means of providing updates to consumers, being able to have a much more rapid turnaround in between when content is submitted and when content goes live to consumers, to provide a higher level of service to them. I'm hoping that the networking and the processes in the future are built with that in mind.
"I'd like to see more server-based backends that are more under publisher-developer control, rather than being forced through systems that are bit more pre-defined by the first-party," he says. "That would enable experiences online that are not currently available in today's console marketplace."
Like Epic's Sweeney, Svensson points out that gamers and game developers today have expectations of how they will receive and distribute their games. He hopes that advancements in the mobile games sector will impact how console makers operate.
"In many ways, I hope that first-parties react to what's happening in the PC and smartphone space, in that the barriers between developer and consumer are much lower there," says Svensson. "And console makers need to be aware that that's what they're competing against, and that's increasingly what the customer expectation is, in terms of responsiveness and engagement."