Bethesda VP of PR and marketing Pete Hines has been in the news a lot lately. With the current unrest over the lack Dawnguard on PS3, Hines has been tasked with fending off angry gamers on Twitter, and most of what we know about Bethesda's current struggle has come from him. Today he's in the news again, but this time its completely unrelated to Dawnguard's development woes. Instead, Hines tells MCV that he's in no rush for the next generation to arrive, as there's still plenty left to do with current generation machines.
When asked if the industry needs a new round of consoles, Hines started by outlining what's good with the current generation hardware we've been using for years. "I don’t think the current generation of consoles are holding us back," he said. "There is still plenty that we are able to do visually, technically and from a story-telling standpoint. And there’s this huge built-in audience now." Hines then went on to outline a couple of problems developers face when manufacturers introduce new consoles.
According to him, the problems are "two-fold." The first is that it can be hard for developers to make games for new consoles when the dev kits they receive typically aren't a snapshot of the final product. The internal hardware almost always changes from the time developers receive their first dev kits to the time the consoles actually launch, which results in the developers trying to "hit a moving technical target." This, obviously, can cause some problems for developers who are trying to have a game out the door at the same time new consoles launch.
The second problem Hines has with new console generations is that "your install base always starts at zero." It's true that a lot of people buy new consoles immediately after launch, but many consumers also stick to their old consoles for a while, leaving developers to decide between making games for the new consoles exclusively or for both new and old hardware. That seems like it would complicate things a bit, at least until more people start upgrading to next generation consoles.
To be fair, however, these are problems that every developer faces at the beginning of every generation. To hold off on the next generation because developing for constantly-changing hardware can be a headache or because the split in audience forces a developer to choose who to cater to doesn't make much sense, as those problems are inevitable regardless of when the next generation arrives. In any case, if the rumors are true, the folks at Bethesda could be facing these issues as soon as next year, so the next generation may be launching sooner than Hines would like. Stay tuned.