Oddworld Creator: PS2/3 "Put Half The Dev Community Out of Business"

Steven Bogos

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Jan 17, 2013
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Oddworld Creator: PS2/3 "Put Half The Dev Community Out of Business"


Oddworld creator Lorne Lanning says Ken Kutaragi's developer unfriendly PS2 and 3 put half the community out of business.

Former Sony Worldwide Studios President Ken Kutaragi is often considered a legend of the industry. The "Father of the PlayStation", when Kutaragi was nominated for a lifetime achievement award by the Academy of Interactive Arts and Sciences [http://www.escapistmagazine.com/news/view/79375-AIAS-Lifetime-Achievement-Award-For-Ken-Kutaragi], only one "bold" voice strongly opposed his nomination - Oddworld creator Lorne Lanning. Lanning claims that rather than revolutionize the industry, Kutaragi's infamously developer-unfriendly PS2 and PS3 instead put half of the developer community out of business.

"I was totally opposed to [the lifetime achievement award]!" Lanning said at a DICE summit keynote [http://www.escapistmagazine.com/news/view/139731-DICE-2015-Awards-Show] featuring himself and current Sony Worldwide Studios President, Shohei Yoshida. "He changed half of the industry, is what [Yoshida] said. I said he put half of the development community out of business!"

Lanning lamented the financial challenges of making games for the PS2 and 3, particularly in convincing publishers and other funding sources that a game could be completed on time and on budget. "Now you find out, whoa, we have zero ability to predict [time and money costs]," Lanning said. "We have to discover, and we [couldn't get] financing to discover."

In fact, according to Lanning, this extreme developer unfriendliness is what led a lot of the community to "jump ship" to the Xbox. "You opened doors for Microsoft!" Lanning said. "Their hook was, 'we'll build a machine for developers.' They have a brand challenge coming into the business [as a new games company], but they promised to make costs more predictable. We were trying to survive. Microsoft was a way of landing."

Lanning boasted that Oddworld: Munch's Odyssee launched day-and-date with the original Xbox "on time and on budget" - a nigh-impossible feat for a PS2 title.

To be fair, Yoshida himself agreed with Lanning, stating that the developer-unfriendliness of the consoles was a mistake. He tried to explain that Kutaragi's confidence lay in his assumption that top dev teams would simply overcome the challenge presented by the hardware, and discover how to make great games regardless.

All I can say is, while he didn't get support from Lanning, I'm sure Microsoft's Xbox team would most definitely be behind Kutaragi's lifetime achievement award...

Source: Ars Technica [http://arstechnica.com/gaming/2015/02/oddworld-creator-ex-sony-exec-put-half-the-dev-community-out-of-business/]

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Rad Party God

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Feb 23, 2010
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The PS2 "hard to develop"?... Uh... Really?, I mean, there's literally hundreds upon hundreds of games for it, I thought it was the easiest to develop.
 

FalloutJack

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Nov 20, 2008
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What the hell do you care? You went Microsoft before then. Oh wait. That must be why. Such butthurt...
 

Mister K

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Apr 25, 2011
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Hmm... And yet, somehow, PS2 is the the best selling console in history with biggest library of HIGH-quality games. Even if what this person is saying is actually true, then maybe the industry really needed to lay-off half of the employees to become better?
Although I doubt that Mister Lanning is right. He is probably, as FalloutJack said
FalloutJack said:
 

RicoADF

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Jun 2, 2009
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So you bet on the wrong horse and now have excuses for the mistake, if it was really that bad then PS2 would not have had so many games and sold so well.
 

Sniper Team 4

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I still think he deserves the Lifetime Achievement Award. The PS2 is one of the greatest selling systems of all time. It has a huge library and is remembered fondly by probably nearly everyone who ever owned one. It is spoken of in revered tones and is often cited as the highlight of the gaming console era. That is no easy feat. Maybe he did make it difficult for developers, but the systems that he 'fathered' are masterpieces and he deserves recognition for it. Just because Mr. Lanning didn't like the way things were handled doesn't mean that the PS2 and PS3 are not worthy of the praise they, and Kutaragi, get.
 

Casual Shinji

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In fact, according to Lanning, this extreme developer unfriendliness is what led a lot of the community to "jump ship" to the Xbox. "You opened doors for Microsoft!" Lanning said. "Their hook was, 'we'll build a machine for developers.' They have a brand challenge coming into the business [as a new games company], but they promised to make costs more predictable. We were trying to survive. Microsoft was a way of landing."
Yeah, how did that work out for you, Lanning?

OT: Seeing as Yoshida backs up some of his claims, I'm sure he's right, but considering how most other developers also switching over from PS1 to PS2 did just fine, it sounds more like it was a case of sink or swim, and he sunk.

Now, I like Lanning, and Ken Kutaragi was kind of a crazy man, but this just sounds like sour grapes. He never got the same succes he did during the PS1 days, and completely missed out on the popularity of the PS2, and now he's like 'The PS2 was a big meanie head'.
 

Bob_McMillan

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It would have been nice if you had added exactly why the PS2 was so developer unfriendly. The PS3 I can understand, but I thought that the PS2 was a gaming smorgasbord (prettu sure I both misspelled and misused that)
 

The Bucket

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SupahGamuh said:
The PS2 "hard to develop"?... Uh... Really?, I mean, there's literally hundreds upon hundreds of games for it, I thought it was the easiest to develop.
It wasn't, not by a long shot. It had the same problem the PS3 did early on, in that it was very difficult to develop for. The difference was that the PS2 sold an insane amount, so it was either dev for it or lose a pile of sales.

The PS2 is probably my favorite console, but I have no problem saying that Sony might have still made some missteps.
 

NPC009

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Yep, despite the PS2 having fairly impressive specifications, parts like the 'Emotion Engine' chip made it hard to put the hardware to good use. The difference between early PS2 games and the ones released in the final years is huge. Developers such as Square Enix spend years figuring out the hardware in order to make the games they wanted to make. That's something they could do, because their big projects were going to sell millions of copies anyway. Plus, they had revenue from projects on other systems. Those were luxuries many smaller developers did not have.

(Some Japanese publishers jus started publishing slightly prettier sprite-based games, but since SCEA had been so against 2D during the original PlayStation games, I don't it something like that was much of an option for American developers.)
 

FalloutJack

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Alleged_Alec said:
Holy shit, this antagonism towards the guy for speaking his mind.
Well, that's just it. He isn't. He's bitter and shouting petty grievances because of what might have been.
 

Meinos Kaen

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... What? Okay, I can get the PS3, but the PS2 remains to this day the record holder for the largest library of games ever! What is this guy on about?!
 

gigastar

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Now i would have understood if he said the PS3 did that.

But the PS2? It was basically a PS1 with beefed up specs featuring close to no architecture changes. I doubt any veteran PS1 dev studio would have had issues developing for PS2 unless they overreached what they were capable of.
 

kyoodle

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FalloutJack said:
Alleged_Alec said:
Holy shit, this antagonism towards the guy for speaking his mind.
Well, that's just it. He isn't. He's bitter and shouting petty grievances because of what might have been.
So you're ignoring the part where Yoshida agreed with him?
 

fix-the-spade

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SupahGamuh said:
The PS2 "hard to develop"?... Uh... Really?, I mean, there's literally hundreds upon hundreds of games for it, I thought it was the easiest to develop.
It was also the market leader, when your other options for a release are the Dreamcast, Xbox and Gamecube (combined lifetime sales, about 54 million units) sucking up the budget needed for PS2 (60 million units sold by 2003) doesn't seem such a hardship anymore.

Of course a lot of people simply didn't get that budget in the first place. As for the PS3 situation, Sony had more or less control of the wider market with the PS2, so they over charged on release for the PS3. With fewer people buying the PS3 because of it's piss taking price tag (Five Hundred and Ninety Nine Dorrars!) suddenly the expense of developing for it become a much more pressing issue.
 

zumbledum

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Bob_McMillan said:
It would have been nice if you had added exactly why the PS2 was so developer unfriendly. The PS3 I can understand, but I thought that the PS2 was a gaming smorgasbord (prettu sure I both misspelled and misused that)

well i thought it was common knowledge of how weird and obscure the emotion and cell architectures were to develop on , at the time of their releases everyone seemed to be scratching their heads asking wtf is this and how does it work but hes also talking about the way sony just didnt communicate and wouldnt tell devs how much cost they were running into and messed everyone around with release dates, caused no end of cash flow problems especially for smaller teams.

i mean they made MS the better option and when a thieving lying bunch of dick smokers are the better option you know they fucked it hard.
 

josemlopes

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A lot of people here dont seem to know that they are talking about, I sure as hell dont know either but when even the other guy agrees with him you know that he has a point.

I dont know if it was easy to develop on the PS2 or not, most of us here probably dont know either, and the fact that it had the biggest library of games doesnt prove anything since the PS2 sold so much meaning that a game for the PS2 had a much bigger audience then in the other consoles. That alone is a big reason for devs and publishers to try to make a game for the PS2.
 

NPC009

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gigastar said:
Now i would have understood if he said the PS3 did that.

But the PS2? It was basically a PS1 with beefed up specs featuring close to no architecture changes. I doubt any veteran PS1 dev studio would have had issues developing for PS2 unless they overreached what they were capable of.
No, some things were quite different. The CPU, while powerful, was very different from what you'd find in most other gaming systems and PCs at the time. It was designed specifically for the PlayStation 2 and because it was divided into eight seperate 'units' many developers had a hard time figuring out how to use all that power. Due to a lack of tools it often came down to reinventing the wheel themselves.

This CPU, the Emotion Engine, was so unusual, the PlayStation 3's backwards compatibility relied on it. It's the reason why newer models aren't backwards compatible like the older ones: they left the Emotion Engine (which was fairly expensive component, even in 2012 when they were last produced) out as a costs saving measure.

While this developer does appear to be overreacting because of bitterness, the PlayStation 2 being hard to developer for is a completely valid complaint.

(Most Japanese gaming consoles have their own oddities, by the way. The Saturn was also notoriously difficult to develop for. The N64, on the other hand, was more flexible and quite powerful at the time, but the use of cartridges instead of discs had its own disadvantages. For instance, if a developer wanted to add a bunch of FMVs to a game and double or even triple the size of it - no problem, a few extra discs only raise the production costs slightly. Using a bigger cartridge was much more expensive, expensive to the point were some games cost 2/3 the price of the system itself.)