It’s time developers finally left ‘last-gen’ behind

Last week we learned that the upcoming Mad Max game has had its last-gen platform versions cancelled for the PS3 and Xbox 360. This makes enormous sense to us and we think it’s time developers of full-sized games started to make this their norm. It’s time for them to say goodbye to last-gen and the PS3 and Xbox 360.

We’ve seen too many games suffer during development due to resources being stretched during cross-generational development. To be honest, we’ve seen it since the PS4/XO launch, with titles likes Need for Speed Rivals. There was barely any difference between the two visuals-wise and the next-gen version of the game felt like it was held back by having to maintain values with its chugging twin. But one of them was £10-£20 more expensive. At least you can get it cheaper nowadays.

Mad Max has been behind schedule for a while now and is likely to suffer sales wise as it was originally supposed to release alongside the upcoming movie, which would have made it much cheaper to market. Let’s be honest, we don’t have massive hopes for most movie tie-ins as it is.

It's time developers finally left 'last-gen' behind

Last year, anyone yet to pick up a new-gen machine may have been tempted to pick up Shadow of Mordor on their old console. What could go wrong? Slightly toned down graphics? If only. The frame-rate was a disaster, crawling to 10-20 fps over nothing and the Nemesis system (the best thing about the new IP) was toned down to almost non-existent levels.

It doesn’t always end badly. I reviewed Far Cry 4 on PS3 at another site and found it held up well next to the PS4 version. But as good as Far Cry 4 was, there was no denying it felt a bit… safe. Awesome gyrocopters aside, it was very similar to Far Cry 3 thanks to it using the same mechanics and task lists. Perhaps if development resources hadn’t been spread so thin we would of had a little more innovation. Maybe the last-gen porting staff could have been used better in the Ubisoft network too, such as doing some actual QA work on the disaster that was Assassin’s Creed Unity.

So, should everyone drop development for PS3 and 360? Not just yet. We still think smaller titles have their place on these consoles. There’s no denying the huge install base these consoles still have and the generous discounts for older games means that there’s always an excuse to avoid boxing them up yet.

It's time developers finally left 'last-gen' behind

Think of how many game’s you’ve downloaded for your PS4 and Xbox One that look like they’d have no issues running on last-gen machines at all. But publishers can charge an extra few quid for a new-gen game, so that’ll be why that happens.

Cross-buy for some of these smaller games is a handy way of pleasing everyone and many of the freebies on PS+ lately have straddled all the active Sony consoles. Why else should smaller games continue to release on last-gen? Well, it seems like these smaller dev teams  have a better handle on how to keep all versions running at optimal levels, which the giants of the industry either can’t do, or simply can’t be bothered doing. In fairness, some of these smaller titles are much simpler on a technical basis.

More and more full-sized games are committing to new-gen exclusivity, and we can’t wait for the likes of Batman: Arkham Knight and The Witcher III, but there are some big names hanging in there. Seriously though, given past launch issues, who’s going to risk buying Battlefield: Hardline on PS3/360 over their shinier counterparts? If there are any issues found at launch you know the last-gen versions are going to be patched last, or not at all.

It's time developers finally left 'last-gen' behind

Let’s face it, ‘next-gen’ has had a slow start so far. The Order: 1886 looks great, but forgot to be an actual game. Titanfall struggled to get its online infrastructure working properly for way too long. Evolve was an overpriced DLC trap. It’s time this generation of consoles got into gear. The install base for both the PS4 and Xbox One is experiencing incredible growth that is outpacing the first 18 months’ sale of the last-gen machines. So we say to developers and publishers alike: enough hanging on, the future of the ‘next big thing’ is within your grasp. We’ll meet you there.

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