Though Sony and Microsoft initially publicised their home consoles as devices for the 'HD era', both the PS3 and Xbox 360 were built with network-based gaming in mind.
That’s the opinion of Square Enix president Yoichi Wada, who told Develop that his company – much like a number of other publishers – can no longer ignore the importance of social gaming.
“Somewhere around 2005 the console manufacturers' strategy shifted,” said Wada. “In the past the platform was hardware, but that switched to the network. So a time will come when the hardware isn't even needed any more.”
Wada claims that this seismic shift to network-based play will have a “big negative impact” on sales, but believes the format holders “knew that this shift was coming.”
The Square Enix president went on to praise both Microsoft and Sony’s consoles for their network-ready technology and services.
“The true strength of the Xbox 360 is Xbox Live,” he said. “For Microsoft they have always had a consistent strategy – they recently strengthened Xbox Live and Games For Windows to be more consistent and consolidated. Live is also provided in a service in Windows, so they are aligning closely in that strategy - the two are very similar.”
Said Wada: “Instead of relying on the hardware layer, the network becomes the operating system. That move away from clients to the network is something Microsoft has done – moving from clients to the server is something Sony has done.
“If we take a look at the PS3 we can see that it is like a home server in a sense - the Cell chip is well matched to the parallel processing we use on server-based games.”
With Wada offering Microsoft so much praise for pioneering its own online strategy, Develop asked if he though Square Enix had taken enough advantage of the service.
“There are a lot of things we still need to do,” he replied, “- a lot.”
Click here to rad the first part of our in-depth interview with Wada