Crytek Say The PC Is A Generation Ahead

By John Walker on November 25th, 2010 at 3:22 pm.

The PC version will surely outshine the competition.

There’s never been any doubt that the PC has always been at the forefront of gaming technology. But it comes in waves. There’s a reason why many companies didn’t touch the consoles until the most recent generation, the PC always too far ahead in terms of graphics and tech for their ambitions to be realised elsewhere. Although for quite a few years now it’s become an equal race. Not realistically – the PC has been artificially held back as a consequence of cross-platform development, its current capabilities barely realised by this generation of developers. As has been the case previously, there comes a point where developers start to see the possibilities away from the plastic boxes, and the PC once more has its day. It’s my opinion that that time is coming, and it feels rather validated by Crytek recently telling EDGE that the PC is a generation ahead of the consoles.

CVG reports the story, stating that Crytek’s boss, Cervat Yerli, believes that the focus on 360 and PS3 is “holding back game quality on PC.”

There’s a reason to listen to Yerli and Crytek. Their November 2007 game, Crysis, is still used as a benchmark for PC graphics. (That it’s three years old is perhaps strong evidence for Yerli’s statement, PC games not seeing any significant steps forward in a long time.) And Crysis 2 shall inevitably replace it, perhaps in competition with id’s idTech 5 engine.

Of course, Crytek are just as much a part of the cross-platform bonanza. While they’ve been exclusively PC in the past, Crysis 2 is being developed across all three platforms. But Yerli says to EDGE that the creative expression of the developer is “limited” by Sony and Microsoft. He said,

“PC is easily a generation ahead right now. With 360 and PS3, we believe the quality of the games beyond Crysis 2 and other CryEngine developments will be pretty much limited to what their creative expressions is, what the content is. You won’t be able to squeeze more juice from these rocks.”

However, he also identifies the issue that developers aren’t taking the PC seriously at the moment. He explains that sales expectations are set so low that they don’t consider the PC a “big issue”. Which of course is a self-fulfilling prophecy. He adds, “Until the PC market creates comparable revenues, companies are not going to spend enough on the PC SKU of a game.”

Which means it’s perhaps time that the digital distribution services stopped being such massive idiots, and started publicising their sales figures. The secrecy around the subject is possibly causing the PC immeasurable harm. And we know some of those numbers are very large. Otherwise Valve wouldn’t be working in that floating platinum castle, paying their employees in diamonds.

Crysis alone sold over one million copies on PC in four months. The myth that the PC sku doesn’t sell needs to be overcome.

Like Yerli says, one more year and the consoles will be looking especially primitive. PC versions of games are already outshining the console equivalents when the developers make the effort. When a Crytek or an id or an Epic is looking at building their next major engine, they’re going to have to rely on the PC to go anywhere new. Clearly Microsoft and Sony are already working very hard on their next-next generation console, and that gap will likely be smaller than ever. But I really think a time is coming for the PC to get its nose out ahead once more.

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220 Comments »

  1. Dominic White says:

    The upper echelons of PCs may be a generation ahead, but I’m personally glad that I’ve been able to go a few years without upgrading, safe in the knowledge that I can run pretty much everything that comes along smoothly.

    Having a long console generation is quite refreshing. And as I’m a multiplatform gamer, it’s been really nice seeing the quality of graphics steadily improve over the past few years, despite there being no improvement in the hardware being used. When developers are forced to really squeeze every last bit of power out of a piece of hardware, creativity happens.

    • strange headache says:

      Thats simply bullshit. Hardware limitations have always been a major factor or have you ever tried to program a game on 64k of ram? Modern games aren’t as optimized anymore, because there are many more resources to waste. Especially console ports suffer from this, where the vastly superior PC power is used as an excuse to release sub par console ports.

      Graphics have always improved, no matter what console platform, be it the 8 or 16 bit era. So really, there is nothing out of the extraordinary with this generation of consoles.

  2. Navagon says:

    With any luck id tech 5 will stay on the iPhone where it belongs. I don’t like the idea of it having any presence on the PC at all. Especially when publishers are already trying to limit user’s ability to create custom content all in the name of pushing horribly overpriced map packs.

    With id tech 5 all they’ll need to do is release the game with that engine and that will be enough to ensure that they’re the only ones producing content for it. The engine is just more bad news for an genre so besieged by crap I sometimes wonder what little future it has left.

    • Hmm says:

      Didn’t id say the PC version of Rage will ship with an editor?

    • Navagon says:

      They said that it would be nigh on impossible to create user generated content for Rage. If they’re providing an editor then that would certainly solve that problem. At least insofar as what the editor will cover in terms of content creation.

      But how many others that use that engine would provide the tools necessary to develop content with it?

      But it doesn’t matter much anyway. Zenimax have already limited the engine to Zenimax published titles. I don’t see the uptake being that vast and it certainly rules out the possibility of people like Kotick getting their mitts on it.

  3. Gabbo says:

    When Crytek is willing to put their money where their mouth is and create a PC only/centric title, and learn to budget it so that not needing 10 million sales will provide a profit, I will take their words more seriously. Until then they’re just one among a number of developers looking at our platform in awe, but little else.

  4. Jimbo says:

    “As has been the case previously, there comes a point where developers start to see the possibilities away from the plastic boxes, and the PC once more has its day. It’s my opinion that that time is coming…”

    You dream, General – those days are long gone. Achievable sales for a PC game are less than half of what they were at this point in the last cycle, and that’s a generous estimate. In the same period, the development costs for the type of game we’re talking about will have gone up a lot. The price you can sell the game for has gone down a bit if anything, and way down in real terms.

    The figures just don’t stack up for the vast majority of developers to even consider big budget PC exclusives anymore, regardless of how far behind the consoles become.

    • crozon says:

      What the fuck. Starcraft 2. Apparently done better than the original starcraft

      Empire total war was their most successful total war game.

      And with DD you only have to sell a faction of your games to make a profit as you get a bigger piece of the sale.

    • Jimbo says:

      StarCraft 2 (or even Blizzard in general) just can’t be used as an indicator of how the rest of the industry can reasonably be expected to act. If the prerequisites for success are a) be the sequel to a game which is practically the national pastime of Korea, and/or b) have so much cashflow that risk doesn’t mean anything to you at all, then that is not an appealing example for other companies to follow.

      SC2 is apparently up to 3 million sales worldwide at last count, so it still doesn’t seem likely to me that it will ever get close to the reported 10-12 million that SC1 sold. It’s still very impressive but even at 3 million it’s clearly an aberration – I can’t think of anything else this year which even sold 1 million. It’s also worth noting that there’s really nothing about SC2 sales which makes a case for games which are too demanding for consoles to handle – which is presumably why John used the (3 yr old) Crysis as his example and not The Sims or Starcraft 2.

      I think Crysis is quite an interesting example, because I have always considered Crysis the point where the industry decided they were pretty much done with making ‘better-than-console’ PC exclusives. If Crysis had sold 5 million copies everything would have been different, but it didn’t, it sold 1 million. That’s scraps compared to what they’re playing for on the consoles nowadays. The lack of a more recent or more successful example than Crysis does indeed speak volumes.

      It’s true to some extent that PS3 and 360 focus is holding back game quality on PC (though on the other hand we wouldn’t get a lot of the games we do get without them), but even with them out of the equation I’m not sure that PC games would sell enough to justify developing games which are a generation ahead of the current console gen. Doing so would still require a huge budget after all, and that requires a fairly safe >1 million sales to justify. Ultimately it’s the lack of a substantial enough, paying, high-end PC gaming market which is holding back PC game quality.

    • subedii says:

      I’ve said this before, but Crysis was never going to get anywhere near 5 million copies sold, regardless of its platform.

      And them currently saying that they’re going to go challenge the big boys of Halo 3 and CoD is frankly, stupid.

    • Nethlem says:

      @Jimbo
      But at the same time we have to automaticly assume that games like Balck Ops selling like they do on consoles are “the average”?

      It’s not like a majority of console games sell in the multimillion range, only a minority actually do. So it’s pretty valid to compare the “few PC examples” with “the few console” examples. The majority of games don’t sell in multi million numbers regardless of platform, for every Call of Duty black ops that sells in the millions there are half a dozen other FPS games on consoles that don’t even break half a million or get anywhere near that, just like there are half a dozen RTS games that don’t come even close to SC2′s numbers.

      The major point behind all those SC2/WoW/Minecraft examples is that there is an market for PC games and if you cather to that market the market will buy your games in huge quantities. But nowadays hardly anybody tries to cather to that market and ends up suprised if the market doesn’t buy their stuff.

  5. Daniel Carvalho says:

    John Walker, a man after my own heart.

  6. lethu says:

    January 28th, 2011 at 3:22 pm.

    CVG reports the story, stating that Crytek’s boss, Cervat Yerli, believes that Crysis 2, nearing it’s end development cycle, would ultimately be better played in the “comfort of a couch”.

  7. Spliter says:

    While I do think it’s true that consoles are holding games back, I think it’s safe to assume we don’t need another crysis, by which I mean a game made so graphic-heave that nothing but the latest, most expensive computers can run.
    I’d like a true PC game with mid-range graphics (something reasonable, maybe on the level of a PS3), but that stays true to PC gaming by which I mean:
    -focusing on Community and MODDING(remember games like Quake, Warcraft, Half Life ? of course you do! we still need a range of our games from this year to satisfy our community and modding needs), community and modding have always been one of the strongest points of PC gaming.
    -Game Tweaking and command line to change those pesky little details in game you find so annoying (DoF-go-away, I can see bad enough without my glasses if I want a DoF experience, I don’t need that in my games)
    -Twitch/Fast response based gameplay: No more FPSs where the enemy gives you enough time to make a sandwtch and eat it before he attacks you after noticing you.
    -Skills. rocketjumping, plasma-wallclimb, nade jumping, we loved that, we don’t see much of it anymore, they don’t break the gameplay, but are a good addition to any game.

  8. noilly says:

    sigh.
    why does prettier graphics (mostly prettier manshoots) == progress?
    Games like Minecraft have proven time and time again that gameplay innovation == progress and potentially success (and potentially fun)

    • Dude says:

      Because graphics are the only thing PCs do better than consoles. Right?

      Right?

      I’m with the “I don’t want to upgrade every nine months” crowd here. Developers can find other ways to push PC boundaries. I don’t want more eye-popping textures. Assassin’s Creed and Mass Effect 2 level graphics are really the pinnacle for me. Anything else will be a bit like DX10 over DX9. Resource hogs without enough difference to justify it.

      Although, they could’ve used the PC CPU spin cycles to improve the lip sync in ME2 somewhat. It was rather stupefying to watch after the Source engine games and even rudimentary ones like GTA IV got it right.

    • Daniel Carvalho says:

      I’m all for graphics improvement. However, I would ideally prefer it in reasonable increments, which is not hard to pull off. No one mentions the fact that a keyboard and mouse is still king for FPS.

    • Nethlem says:

      Because processing power can be spent on more things then just graphics…
      Enemy AI, size of maps, physics, weather effects, simulations of all kinds of things, number of enemies fighting at once and probably a few other things i forgot.

    • Jim Reaper says:

      ^ spot on. This isn’t necessarily about teh shiney graphics, it’s about gameplay. It’s about how I went from sneaking over a city’s skyline in thief 2, to ambling across tiny hubs in Thief 3.

      “I’m with the “I don’t want to upgrade every nine months” crowd here. Developers can find other ways to push PC boundaries.”

      But that’s just the point, they don’t find other ways to push the PC’s boundaries. It’s one size fits all. A direct port of the console game with increased resolution. Job done.

  9. willonton says:

    I don’t want more eye-popping textures. Assassin’s Creed and Mass Effect 2 level graphics are really the pinnacle for me. Anything else will be a bit like DX10 over DX9. Resource hogs without enough difference to justify it.too

    • thinsoldier says:

      I actually prefer Mass Effect 2 on a console & non-HD-TV. On my pc the vast number of graphical/artistic imperfections are just as crystal clear as the good stuff. They could have done a little bit extra for the PC. Actually most of it would not have been additional work, just keep a copy of the original high res textures for the PC versions and allow users to crank up the quality of the lights and shadows. Oh and cast shadows on the inside of mouths. Simple stuff.

      Not so simple would be having pc-only higher poly-count assets, mo-cap animation data with less frames removed. More attractive and mouse-friendly user interface. etc.

      Honestly, if Bioware had taken the Valve approach to community interaction via satisfying free/paid updates they could still be making a tonne more money from the PC sales of ME2.

      Hardcore fans of ME2 on the consoles could potentially be compelled to get the PC version just for the 5 major updates they can’t get on the consoles.

      Hell, I’d pay $5 just for a non-damaged alternate outfit for Garrus to wear
      (honestly how can the new/unlocked outfit be damaged in exactly the same way as his first outfit? I’ll tell you how: LACK OF SUFFICIENT HARD DRIVE SPACE AND MEMORY ON THE FRIGGIN CONSOLES!)

    • thinsoldier says:

      “the pinnacle”

      Seriously? That’s the pinnacle for you? You don’t see the jagged edges? Super-Super-Blurry textures on non-hero assets? JPEG ARTIFACTS in textures? Plastic Skin? Oddly strong ambient occlusion shadows even in direct sunlight sometimes? The fact that every teammate has the exact same body animations and often play the same idle animation SIMULTANEOUSLY?

      There’s scores of big and small compromises they made for the console that could easily be removed if the planned for the pc version.

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  11. Babs says:

    @subedii
    I could concievably see a console being released with a keyboard device, something like the Boxee remote, since it may be seem as a necessary part of the convergence box that they (MS particularly) want to become. Nothing you could game with though.

    Mouse: Never, ever, ever.

  12. w says:

    90% of the people who get into debate about console and PC performance know nothing about the topic.

    “Modern” consoles are 10 year old designs which were mass produced over 6 years ago. Today’s cell phones have half of the processing power of the PS3. Please give me a break and cease this horseshit about consoles being powerful yadda yadda.

    Just because a game looks the same on all platforms doesn’t mean they have equal capabilities. If anybody has even the shadow of a doubt that console gaming is lowering the quality of PC ports, he should start his reeducation by opening wikipedia on the term “FLOPS” (useless metric, but it’s a good introduction to the topic).

    Then again, I don’t give a cat’s whistle about PC ports of console crap. Just sayin.

    Rant over, sorry.

    • Cognitect says:

      This is what I wanted to say. Most people do not seem to realise how massive the performance gap between the current generation of consoles and modern hardware has become. I believe statements like “Assassin’s Creed and Mass Effect 2 level graphics are really the pinnacle for me” are born mostly out of ignorance and/or failure to engage one’s imagination.

      We’ll have to go all the way to the limits of semiconductor manufacturing technology (perhaps 11 nanometers), before we’ll have anything resembling true creative freedom in games, and that’s gonna take another 10-15 years.

    • Dude says:

      Replying to Cognitect: dude, seriously? Ignorance? It’s born out of a need for game developers to start putting gameplay over graphics again. But you graphics whores won’t understand. Have fun with that.

    • Sardaukar says:

      Except, in several genres, graphics are integral to gameplay. Blinding light, detailed shadows, thick foliage; All modern elements that help one player stalk or evade another in a stately paced deathmatch. Bigger levels, smarter enemies, more units, better flight atmosphere models, more complete immersion, smoother transitions. Not all games need these things, but don’t act like they are completely useless. That line of reasoning is tired and flawed.

    • Dude says:

      Agreed. But current tech is enough as far as graphics go in doing a decent job of everything you mention. I’d rather see five years of games where gameplay is king over more interesting ways to render foliage and facial hair.

      Minecraft’s success is not a coincidence. Most gamers with brains got tired of the graphics brouhaha five years ago.

  13. Helder Pinto says:

    Hey guys… his name is Cevat! Stop calling him Cervat, lol.

  14. Nethlem says:

    How about this guy finnaly makes up his mind?
    After crysis release he declared PC gaming dead due to piracy because his overhyped benchmark didn’t sell 5 million units in the first month but still ended up selling well…

    Not a month ago he said this regarding PC gaming:
    http://kotaku.com/5674608/the-future-of-pc-gaming-according-to-the-creator-of-crysis

    Basicly claiming that there is no market for full priced games PC gaming it’s all social gaming and F2P blaming the customers for this.

    And now he says this? At this point i couldn’t care less what that guys opinion is because it looks like his opinions just change based around who is asking him…

  15. Malibu Stacey says:

    Wow I wish I was born in the 60′s when everyone could buy mainframes from supermarkets & plug them into their TV’s just like they do with modern consoles…………..

  16. tribal whore says:

    I remember a few years back working in a pc repair shop. Occasionally we’d try to have a little lan party after work and would try to use customers machines so more people could play. Anything with Intel Integrated graphics was a waste of time installing a game on.

    I blame Intel for the state of pc sales over most of the last decade. Those things could barely run quake 3.

    My current Macbook and mac mini are both useless for gaming and I have a HUGE library of games on steam, many with mac ports!

  17. yams says:

    Crysis sold well despite Crytek’s whining, but expanding to other markets makes sense nevertheless. They want to license out the engine, what better way to get sales than to get it on every platform? Hopefully their new engine and ~* optimization *~ carries over well to the PC. It’s kind of a scary thought that I even have to worry about this. I can’t say I remember buying Quake 3 or UT and wondering if it was going to be a neutered port that mysteriously runs shitty for no inexplicable reason. I had decent hardware and expected them to work decently, and they did. Simpler times? Maybe… but imagine that, things that were developed solely with a computer in mind worked well on a computer. Ok, cool your dev team had to spending crazy amounts of effort rewriting chunks of 360 / PS3 code in assembly before hoping that the PC version can simply powerhouse through the C++ implementation. PC is a platform all the same, it has lots of hardware but that is not to say that writing fast code is impossible or not worthwhile because their processing power is monstrous by comparison. Effort shows.

    Valve sells an insane amount of copies of their games, their numbers are ridiculous in comparison to most. I think more should take a good look at them to see what magic they work. Gabe has given talks about piracy and stuff, Steam is a godsend, and they have no issue with actually keeping in touch with their market. Anyone can shoot someone there an email and get a response. Gabe himself asks for feedback in his commentary.

    Yet despite complaints like the Source engine being out of date, etc etc, it’s fast, scales incredibly well to hardware, and most everything in their games just works. Valve games are pretty much the only PC games where I actually hear people using in-game voice, for better or worse. You can go into one of their games expecting your nice servers, dev console, familiar-ish menus at the core. I don’t think I’ve ever bought one of their games biting my lip and thinking “Oh shit I hope they didn’t fuck this up.” They support the mod community, they actually meet with people in it (and hire people, no less)…

    TLDR; Things that feel like ports just get people upset. I don’t think PC people want auto aiming 10 foot long knife lunges on the PC, it’s dumb and annoying. Accessibility makes sense, but don’t become retarded and ignore the platforms strengths. I can go on forever…

  18. phenom_x8 says:

    Yeah, PC have been always one,two, or even three generation ahead of console!
    But, it is not always because of better graphic, higher resource or higher processing power.
    Why there is still a lot of us keep whining and debating about something as crystal clear as that.
    I’ll tell you the reason, we always few generation ahead because we can drive our car in the game using JUST ONE RIGHT HAND with the keyboard arrow button.
    Betcha,there’s no console gamer will be able to do that (except for the left handed one) :).
    Just told them to do that and their hand will totally suffer (like my first experience playing NFS Underground on my beloved PC)

  19. Rane2k says:

    Man, I´m usually not one to complain, but this spambot ist on almost every RPS article, yet MY replies get eaten by the system or marked as spam…

    FUCKING SHIT.

  20. R. says:

    Your list of titles betrays a shocking lack of imagination there, Gibson:

    WAR WAR WAR WAR WAR WAR!

    Seriously, my first impression was you were fakeposting because that’s just a horrible and narrow range of titles and sums up a lot of what’s really wrong with PC gaming today.

  21. FLGibsonJr says:

    Well everyone has their interest area, and combat simulations of one sort or another are definitely my interest area. I guess what is great about it, it is an area that is dominated by PC Only games. I definitely do not understand your complaint about this being the problem, these are mostly very committed PC Only developers. In fact this is an area that should be further built and expanded on.

    Regards,

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