Tuesday, 19 March 2013

Nvidia to Sony: "PS4? Thanks but No Thanks"

A lot of things are powered by Nvidia, the PS4 won't be one of them.

This probably wasn't the development that Sony was hoping for coming off the heels of their announcement of the Playstation 4. The first dev kits are going out with AMD chipsets, but if Sony had their way, they likely wouldn't be. The company was apparently looking to court Nvidia, who had also provided the chipset for the Playstation 3. Talks were conducted, but in the end it seems that Nvidia simply wasn't interested in what Sony was putting down.

"I'm sure there was a negotiation that went on," Tony Tamasi, Senior VP of content and technology at Nvidia told GameSpot, "and we came to the conclusion that we didn't want to do the business at the price those guys were willing to pay."

Part of the problem probably stems from the fact that Sony is unwilling to let another meme like $599 US Dollars spawn again, and is probably prepared to sell the system at a loss initially to make sure that doesn't happen. While this is likely good news for consumers, it also means that those Sony approaches would more than likely be putting up with offers that aren't exactly steller in terms of initial payoffs.

Part of Nvidia's reluctance may also come from their own pet project, the Shield. If they're looking to start setting foot in the console part of the market themselves, then odds are the last thing they want to do is develop a new chipset for one. Granted the Shield and next generation consoles may not exactly have much in common, but the potential overlap is there.

It may have simply come down to the fact that Nvidia is in a position where it can easily be choosy about what it's going to invest its time and resources in, as another quote from the article goes:

 "In the end, you only have so many engineers and so much capability, and if you're going to go off and do chips for Sony or Microsoft, then that's probably a chip that you're not doing for some other portion of your business. And at least in the case of Sony and Nvidia, in terms of PS4, AMD has the business and Nvidia doesn't. We'll see how that plays out from a business perspective I guess. It's clearly not a technology thing."

Certainly a very damning statement in terms of the control that AMD had over whether or not they got the chipset. It comes across looking like they were a dog that Nvidia was kind enough to leave table scraps for, table scraps that they didn't particularly care about at that.

If you think that those are fighting words though, then you haven't read anything yet.

Tamasi slammed the PS4 and console gaming in general, stating that, "If the PS4 ships in December as Sony indicated, it will only offer about half the performance of a GTX680 GPU (based on GFLOPS and texture), which launched in March 2012, more than a year and a half ago." and continuing to say, "If history predicts the future, then these next-generation consoles, while being more powerful than the current ones, will very quickly end up more than an order of magnitude behind the PC."

Harsh words indeed. However, he may have a point. Unfortunately for consoles, it seems that most of what they are trying to do is emulate PCs and ending up being not as good at anything for it. These aren't like the old days where PCs had first person shooters, adventure games, and then not much else, there's a giant amount of overlap in what you can get on a console and a PC, including games that people wouldn't have pegged as PC ports years ago, like the Assassin's Creed series, the latest Devil May Cry game, and Arkham City. These are games that would have traditionally been console only, but aren't anymore.

Admittedly, Tamasi is biased. But these are factors that every company is going to have to consider for the future, not just Sony. Whether or not the console market will struggle to maintain viability, or what Tamasi said turns out to be a hot load of shit, only time will tell.

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