Next Gen Will Scale Between Mobile Devices Says Epic’s Mark Rein
Xbox 720 and next gen rumours are rife, but what do games industry leaders think of the potential directions of next gen consoles. Epic’s VP, Mark Rein, weighs in…
No one really knows what the future holds for gaming, but some people are better placed to make educated guesses than others.
Epic Games’ Vice President and industry veteran, Mark Rein, has seen the introduction and establishment of a lot of technology over the years, but just what does he think is in-store for the next generation of consoles…
X360: Besides better graphics, what type of new gaming experiences will be opened up to players as a result of the next-gen power increase?
Mark Rein: I think you’ll see games that are more interactive and have lots of little details layered on that weren’t practical given prior performance and memory limitations. I also think you’ll see games able to scale more effectively from mobile devices up to consoles although, in the short term you’re likely to see limited versions of that. For example, the new iPad has 1GB of RAM – that’s more RAM than what’s individually available in Xbox 360 and PS3.
If that trend, along with better GPUs and CPUs continues, then it will be possible to scale the same game between tablets and consoles. Obviously, the console is going to have a much larger power footprint, so you’ll be able to do the most amazing things there, but tablets and phones will also become pretty incredible within the life cycle of the next-gen consoles.
X360: How potentially important are improved visuals to new and emerging gameplay mechanics?
Rein: Pushing the visuals will always be important. Humans physically evolve very slowly but their tastes evolve at exponentially faster rates. This is true for pretty much all forms of entertainment and media. During my own brief lifetime thus far I’ve gone from watching the Adam West Batman shows of the Sixties to watching Christian Bale’s Dark Knight today. It’s hard to go back to watch the older series, and people generally don’t. Their expectations evolve as new technologies become commonplace.
Think of what mobile games looked like before the iPhone came out, and that was only five years ago! Just look at the various Doctor Who series and you’ll know what I mean – it’s like watching the Thirties black-and-white Flash Gordon movies compared to watching Avatar.
X360: The 32-bit generation of consoles popularised 3D gaming and analogue controls, while this generation will be remembered for connected-console gaming and motion controls. What significant evolutions do you think the next generation of consoles will bring to gaming?
Rein: With Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3, Microsoft and Sony really upped their game in terms of the services around the consoles for games, media and social uses. I expect this trend to be even more improved for next-gen. They’ll add phones, tablets and PCs to the mix to ensure that your media, games and friends can follow you everywhere. It’s going to be very exciting. I think SmartGlass gives a just brief glimpse into the kind of integration we can expect to see over the next few years.
X360: With Wii U, Xbox SmartGlass, and PlayStation 3 / PS Vita, dual-screen gaming looks here to stay. How big an impact will systems like SmartGlass have on the way we experience games and gaming content on next-gen systems?
Rein: In terms of their effect on gaming, it remains to be seen how consumers take to the idea of dual screens. But I’ve really enjoyed some of interesting demos on Wii U and for certain there are emerging non-gaming applications, just as Microsoft showed on stage at E3 with SmartGlass, that will be here to stay and will help make the next-gen console the connected hub for your gaming and media life.
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